Coronavirus restrictions have been ramped up across Tayside and Fife.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in the Scottish Parliament that the Angus, Fife, and Perth and Kinross local authority areas will all be moved from tier two to three from Friday.
It means the same restrictions which have been in place in Dundee since the start of November will be enforced across the whole of Tayside and Fife.
Dundee will remain under level three restrictions.
Ms Sturgeon told MPs that Angus, Fife, and Perth and Kinross are on a “sharply rising trajectory” in regards to Covid-19 infections.
She said: “I can confirm that we have taken the very difficult decision, but in our view necessary and precautionary decision, to move Fife, Perth and Kinross, and Angus to level three from Friday.
“While on the raw indicators alone, Angus and Perth and Kinross are not yet meeting the level three threshold, and Fife is meeting just one of them, all areas are on a sharply rising trajectory.
“The most recent data shows that in the space of a week the seven-day number of cases per 100,000 of population has increased in Perth and Kinross by 32%, in Fife by 40% and in Angus by 47%.
“The advice of the chief medical officer and national clinical director is that level two restrictions may well not be sufficient to slowdown and reverse increases of this magnitude, and as a result an early move to level three was strongly recommended.”
She added: “I know how disappointing this will be to residents and businesses in these three areas however, and this is an important point, by acting now we can hopefully prevent an even more serious deterioration in the situation in the future.”
The rules mean non-essential travel will not be permitted in the areas, with alcohol unable to be served from licensed premises.
Up to six people from two different households will be able to meet at pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes – which will be able to sell food and non-alcoholic drinks inside or outside.
Leisure and entertainment businesses such as cinemas must close; however shops, gyms, hotels and visitor attractions can remain open.
‘Trend very much positive’ in Dundee
Speaking at Holyrood, the First Minister added: “A factor relevant to both Angus, and Perth and Kinross, is proximity to and interaction with the city of Dundee”.
She asked people in the new level three areas to “take some encouragement” from the fact that restrictions may be working in the City of Discovery.
She said: “The most recent data shows cases and test positivity declining in the city of Dundee.
“While it is too soon to say that this will be sustained, I want to stress that the trend is very much positive at this stage”.
Elsewhere in Scotland: the Highlands, Moray, Orkney and Shetland will remain under level one restrictions.
Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, and Argyll and Bute will stay at level two.
The other 18 Scottish local authorities will remain under level three restrictions.
Ms Sturgeon said there is a “varied picture” across these regions and a switch to level four “cannot be ruled out” in some areas. However she said many places “are, like Dundee, showing encouraging signs”.
She added that news of the potential Pfizer coronavirus vaccine was “extremely encouraging” and “cause for cautious optimism”.
It comes after 832 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in Scotland in the past day along with 39 deaths linked to the disease.
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