The First Minister said while the new measures would not be in place “any longer than necessary”, it would be “negligent” of the Scottish Government to ease guidance around care home visits.
Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Monica Lennon asked in Holyrood about what was required to allow visits to take place – and said Ms Sturgeon's statement on a new lockdown had not addressed families needs.
Ms Lennon said: “Thousands of care home residents have had little or no meaningful contact with their loved ones since last March. What hope can the First Minister give people living in our care homes that they will see their relatives again?
"And what needs to happen for indoor designated care-giver visits to take place. Is it one vaccine dose, is it two? And if it is contingent on vaccination roll-out, when will that be complete in care homes?”
Ms Sturgeon said she understood people’s desire to visit loved ones.
She said: “We will not have restrictions on care home visiting any longer than necessary, though I know in saying that it will not take away the pain and the anxiety and suffering of care home residents and their families who have been through such a traumatic and torrid time in the last few months.
"But we have a virus which is spreading perhaps 70 per cent faster than the previous virus, which took such a toll on care homes, and so we would be negligent if we did not give very stringent advice about the need to restrict care home visiting in particular.”
Level four restrictions had already been in place, with guidance reduced to essential indoor visits only or garden or window visits if agreed with the care home.
Ms Sturgeon said further testing in care homes had been rolled out and “residents and staff are in the top priority group for vaccination, so we hope that not too far into this year we will be in a better position and get people more back to normal”.
"We’ve all got a part to play here to drive this virus down we all help to create the conditions in which this becomes more possible more quickly,” she said.