A DECISION to tighten lockdown restrictions will be “a bitter pill to swallow” for older East Renfrewshire residents who live alone, a charity has warned.

The Scottish Government introduced a legally-enforceable ‘stay-at-home’ order on Tuesday, which means people can only venture outside for an “essential purpose,” such as food shopping or caring for someone.

It is hoped the new national lockdown, which will be in place until at least the end of January, can help to combat a new, faster spreading strain of Covid-19.

However, experts at Age Scotland have stressed it will be difficult for older people to cope with and are hoping East Renfrewshire residents will again show community spirit by offering support where they can.

Adam Stachura, the charity’s head of policy and communications, said: “The thought of enduring another lockdown without face-to-face contact with family or friends will be extremely difficult but this is clearly not a decision that has been taken lightly.

“The past year has proven that periods of prolonged isolation can have a profound impact on mental and physical health but, by reaching out and offering support where possible, we can all play our part in alleviating the impact of lockdown loneliness.”

The new restrictions mean it is now only possible for two people from two households to meet outdoors, instead of the previous limit of six from two households.

Churches and other places of worship across East Renfrewshire will also be closed, apart from for funerals, weddings and civil partnerships.

While up to 20 people will still be able to attend funeral services, wakes are not allowed during January and the number of guests at weddings and civil partnerships is limited to just five.

East Renfrewshire residents who had previously been advised to shield are now being told not to go into work at all.