With the arrival of the new Omicron variant, the Scottish Government is asking businesses to strengthen compliance with current protection measures and make an extra effort to do so from now through the festive period and beyond.
The first minister said 45% of the 5,951 Covid cases reported on Thursday were suspected to be the new variant.
She said Omicron would likely overtake Delta as the dominant strain of the virus by Friday, which would “drive an even more rapid increase in cases”.
Ms Sturgeon urged people to reduce contact with other households “as much as you possibly can”.
Scots have been asked to limit socialising to three households at a time in the run-up to Christmas amid fears of a “tsunami” of new infections.
New regulations requiring shops and hospitality venues to reduce the spread of the virus will now come into force on Friday, with detailed guidance for businesses published on Thursday afternoon.
Firms will need to enforce physical distancing, cut down on crowding in shops and at bars, and enable staff to work from home wherever possible.
Commenting, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:
“Scotland’s businesses are continuing to do everything they can to keep their employees and customers safe from the ever-present threat of COVID-19 and the emergence of the new Omicron variant.
“We are now in the busiest time of year for hospitality and retail businesses, many of which are already having to deal with increased staff shortages and a deluge of customer cancelations. Whilst we welcome the publication of the updated guidance today, to expect these hard-pressed businesses to review, digest and enact it before it comes into effect tomorrow, will place immense strain on business owners and our employees.
“Publishing guidance at the 11th hour creates unnecessary pressure on Scottish businesses and their employees at a critical time and it’s vital that the Scottish Government give businesses the lead-in time required ahead of any further changes they may be considering.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Scotland’s business community told the Scottish and UK Governments that they are willing to support public health measures, however, they need time and financial support to both understand and implement them effectively.”