The announcement was made on Twitter, and stated that from Boxing Day, while childminders can still open to all children, working within the tier four guidance, nurseries and other childcare providers can only open for key worker staff and vulnerable children.
The new rules will be in place from December 26 until January 18, and the government is understood to be meeting with childcare sector representatives tomorrow.
The news comes as demands grow for schools, which are still open until Wednesday this week, to be closed in light of the surge in Covid cases.
Teachers’ union, the Educational Institute for Scotland, said that while it welcomed the government's decision to delay a return to school after the Christmas holidays until January 11 – with pupils not physically attending school until January 18 – they should now close immediately.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “With a large number of schools already closed for the break, this late decision will once again create planning challenges for teachers but schools are much better prepared for remote learning than was the case in March. Given that the EIS has been calling for a ‘firebreak’ around the Christmas break, we view this announcement as being the correct one.
"It would make sense for those schools which are still open to move immediately to remote platforms.”
However First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that schools still open this week would remain so, and that instead of reopening on January 7 “for the children of key workers – such as nurses in our hospitals – schools will open and stay open as normal. They will also open as normal for the most vulnerable children. All teachers will also return to work as scheduled and planned.
“After that, assuming we are confident we have the virus under control we will aim to reopen schools more fully but at least until then, schools will go online only other than for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable.”