Scotland's National Clinical Director has warned severe restrictions may have to remain in place until the mutant Covid-19 variant is under control.

Speaking to Radio Clyde, Jason Leitch warned the highly-transmissible variant could push back a return to normality until late next year. 

He said: “In the longer term it’s going to take well into next year before we can think about any form of normality.

“In the shorter term we are going to be living under pretty severe restrictions for a while unless we can find a way of dealing with this new variant, or it dies out or mutates to be an easier version than a more difficult version, then we’re going to be living under severe restrictions for some time to come.”

His warning comes as mainland Scotland is plunged into level four restrictions. 

Hospitality, non-essential retail and gyms were all forced to close for the next three weeks on Boxing Day. 

The wave of tough measures come in order to prevent the spread of a highly transmissible variant of Covid-19. 

Mr Leitch added: “We said we want to vaccinate the particularly at risk group by the summer if we get vaccine supply which depends on manufacturing and regulation.

The other thing I need from people is patience, it's going to take a bit longer yet.

"The vaccine is coming, and the vaccine works with this new variant. So, stay hopeful and stay safe.”

Nicola Stugeon pleaded for people to follow the rules which are now in place. 

She wrote on Twitter: "Level 4 restrictions are now in place across mainland Scotland.

"Please stay home/local as much as possible, to help stop this new, faster spreading strain of the virus running out of control."