Nicola Sturgeon demanded urgent talks about tightening up lockdown rules in all four nations of the UK in a desperate plea to Boris Johnson.
Scotland’s First Minister hit out over England’s refusal to ban household visits between people who don’t live together.
Instead, people from different households in England are only banned from meeting up indoors in certain ‘local lockdown’ areas – including Manchester and Liverpool. People outside local lockdown areas can meet in groups of up to six.
By contrast, Scotland has banned most indoor gatherings between people who don’t live together.
Ms Sturgeon has written to the Prime Minster calling for urgent four-nation talks.
It comes after members of the government’s advisory group SAGE said the new wave of restrictions in England – including 10pm pub closures, higher fines and more wearing of masks – would not be enough to curb the spread of the virus.
Ms Sturgeon wrote: “The collective agreement yesterday of the four nations to drive Covid transmission to the lowest possible level and keep it there was particularly welcome.
“However, I am sure you will agree that we must all now act in a manner that can achieve that objective.
“While all four governments announced new restrictions yesterday, there is clearly a significant strand of scientific opinion to the effect that bringing R back below 1 and the virus back under control will require measures beyond those which any of us have so far announced.
“In my view, there is considerable force in that opinion.
“It is also the case – and we know this from our experience earlier this year – that acting quickly and decisively against the virus is essential.
“In other words, if we believe further action will be required there is nothing to be gained – and potentially much to be lost, including lives – from delay.
“Therefore, I am writing to request further four nations discussions on three inter-related questions.”
She also highlighted that devolved administrations’ ability to take action is curtailed by a lack of financial levers to deliver economic support.
The topics highlighted by the First Minister include what further actions might be necessary, what support is required for affected sectors and what arrangements can be put in place to ensure that devolved administrations are not constrained in making what they judge to be essential public health decisions.
A UK Government spokesman said: “The Prime Minister held a Cobra meeting on Tuesday which was attended by the leaders of the devolved administrations.
“This crisis has shown clearly the value of Scotland being part of a strong United Kingdom, with the UK Government providing the bulk of Covid testing in Scotland, the UK’s armed forces playing a key role in providing support for Scottish communities, and the UK Treasury playing an absolutely critical role in supporting jobs and business across Scotland.
“We will continue to tackle this pandemic as one United Kingdom.”