A DECISION to tighten lockdown restrictions will be “a bitter pill to swallow” for thousands of older 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 drastic action, 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 the new national lockdown will be particularly difficult for older people to cope with and are hoping 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.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw an incredible outpouring of support, with people volunteering to help with food delivery, collecting prescriptions or simply a friendly phone call or doorstep chat.

“We hope to see a continuation of this community support and would urge people to look out for older friends, neighbours and relatives they know will be affected by this guidance.”

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

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

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the lockdown measures would be kept under close review but added: “I cannot at this stage rule out having to keep them in place longer, nor making further changes. Nothing about this is easy.”