ALL shops should be closed to the public unless they are supplying food or medicine – the First Minister has stressed.

Nicola Sturgeon also indicated that Scotland is essentially already in “lockdown”, but without it being enforced.

She warned that people should remain at home “unless it’s absolutely essential to go out” – while Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, said that people can go out and exercise once a day but “only in small family groups”.

Ms Sturgeon said that the advice issued is “rules that we are expecting people to comply with” and that businesses that cannot operate remotely should “consider closing or hibernating”.

She added: “For everyone, you must stay at home unless it is absolutely essential to go out. That includes working from home wherever possible.

“Stay away from crowded places, even out of doors. When there are other people around, stay two metres distance from them.

“That advice is for everyone but it is especially vital if you are over 70, eligible for the flu vaccine or pregnant. At all times, follow the advice on washing your hands, using tissues and touching your face.”

Ms Sturgeon pleaded with businesses that have not yet closed their doors to the public.

She said: “If you are not providing essential items like food and medicines, then please also close now.

“There are still too many people across our country who are being expected to or are expecting to go to work as normal. That presents a serious and unnecessary risk of spreading the virus.”

Ms Sturgeon added that building sites and hair salons should also close to help in the efforts to suppress the coronavirus pandemic.

She added: “I know this is a difficult situation for businesses and I know difficult judgements are having to be made.

“I have therefore asked for additional guidance to be drawn up urgently by government for businesses that will make clear exactly what we are expecting  of them and how they can make the right judgements on what is essential and what is not essential.

“We are pushing for and are very hopeful of seeing very seen, further measures to support freelancers, the self-employed and contract workers.

“It should enable businesses to do the right thing for themselves and for their workers.”

Dr Calderwood said that it was important that people could leeave their homes to exercise once a day for mental and physical wellbeing, but urged people to do it in small family groups to stop the spread of coronavirus.

She said: “People should go out once a day to exercise but don’t do it except in small family groups.

“We are going to have to adapt to life in this new world. We are really in this for the marathon, not a sprint.”

The First Minister also indicated that Scotland and wider UK is essentially already in “lockdown” as has been described in Italy and other countries – albeit without the enforcement.

She said: “It is very possible that in the days to come, we will see more stringent measures be applied.

“If we take a step back from the word ‘lockdown’, and think about what all the components of that would be  - asking people to stay at home and not go to work unless it is vitally essential, asking people not to go shopping unless it’s for food and medicine, asking people to keep their distance, not gather in crowds of people.

“That’s essentially the elements of what you are seeing in other countries where it has been described as lockdown.

"I guess the missing bit that we may have to move to if the advice tells us it’s necessary, is whether that is being issued in a way of advice, although I’m being very clear we want people to treat it as rules, or whether there is more enforcement on that. I can’t rule that out.”

She added: “As First Minister, I will not hesitate to do what is necessary here. I’m not ruling anything out.

“What I’m being crystal clear on is that the public don’t have to wait for lockdowns or enforcement to do the right things.

“It’s within the ability of each and every one of us as citizens to do the right things now. Don’t wait for somebody to tell you - please do it.”