NICOLA Sturgeon has urged Scots to stay at home and minimise travel this Christmas despite a relaxation of restrictions. 

The First Minister joined with the UK and Welsh governments in issuing tougher festive guidance.

She stressed the "strong recommendation" is for Scots to celebrate Christmas within their own households and in their own homes.

Up to eight people from three households can meet indoors between December 23 and 27 under a temporary loosening of the rules.

But Ms Sturgeon has urged Scots not to do this if they can avoid it. 

She also said people should avoid travel to or from Scotland and tier three areas in England, which includes London.

The Scottish Government's Christmas guidance is currently being updated.

The First Minister stressed that those choosing to spend time with other households indoors should keep the duration of any interaction as short as possible; keep any bubble as small as possible; avoid travel and overnight stays unless unavoidable; and comply with all distancing and hygiene advice.

She said: “Our strong advice this Christmas is to stay at home with your own household. 

"Any interaction with other households should, as far as possible, be outdoors. 

"That is the best way of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe this Christmas.

"However, we recognize that in some cases, the isolation caused by being alone over Christmas will in itself cause harm to people’s welfare and that is why we have created a window of flexibility with accompanying guidance, to ensure that any household mixing is done as safely as possible,

“If you choose to form a bubble over the Christmas period, then you should take into consideration these key points:

“First, minimise the number of people in the bubble - while three households is the legal maximum, our recommendation is that two households would be better, and you should keep as far within the maximum of eight people over the age of 12 as you can. In short, the smaller the bubble is, the better and safer it will be.

“Second, you should minimise the time spent with your bubble, especially indoors. 

"The five days is a window of opportunity, not a recommended time that it is safe for you to spend together - indeed, the Scottish Government recommends that you do not meet up with people in your bubble on any more than one day over the period and do not stay overnight unless it is unavoidable. And you should minimise the distance you intend to travel.

“You should also avoid all travel between high prevalence areas and low prevalence areas - in particular, that means avoiding travel to or from Scotland and tier three areas in England, and to or from any level four areas in Scotland (of which there are currently none)."

The First Minister added: “Being asked not to see loved ones at Christmas unless absolutely essential is one of the toughest things imaginable. 

"But, this year, it is essential to help keep people safe. 

"With a vaccination programme now underway, a return to more normal life is on the horizon - and I hope that the prospect of brighter days ahead will help all of us get through this difficult Christmas as safely as possible.”