Coronavirus restrictions are being scaled up to the highest level in parts of Scotland – while Tayside and Fife continues to make “progress” in tackling the pandemic.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in the Scottish Parliament that 11 local authority areas would be under the most severe ‘tier four’ measures for a “limited period” from Friday.
They include: Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.
Angus, Dundee, Fife, and Perth and Kinross will remain under level three restrictions, as will Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Inverclyde, Falkirk and North Ayrshire.
Speaking on these level three areas, Ms Sturgeon hinted that some could be reduced to level two in the near future.
She said: “These areas to varying degrees are all making some progress though it does remain fragile.
“However if that progress continues we are hopeful that these areas will move to level two soon.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “The cabinet has decided as follows: 19 council areas, the majority, will see no change to their levels this week.
“I am pleased to say that from the start of next week, assuming of course no significant deterioration in the situation before then, two areas will move down from level three to level two.
“However 11 local authorities will, from 6pm on Friday for a strictly limited period, move from level three to level four.”
She added: “I am acutely aware that for many individuals and businesses these decisions will be both disappointing and distressing. They demand more sacrifice from all of us.
“So I want to take a moment to remind people why these decisions are necessary and what they are intended to achieve.”
She said the new measures are necessary to ensure NHS Scotland can cope throughout the winter as it deals with a “range of pressures”, and that they could give Scots a chance of eased restrictions come Christmas time.
“That means we must get case numbers down from current levels before going into a period when winter pressures are very likely to increase,” Ms Sturgeon added.
“Second: these decisions will give us the best possible chance, albeit in a limited and careful way, of being able to ease restrictions in all parts of Scotland for Christmas.
“That is something all of us want to look forward to but we also know it will increase the risks of transmission so we must get infection rates to a lower baseline now.
“And third: these decisions will help us limit the impact of the virus, including in loss of life, as we steer a path in the next few months towards the brighter times that are now in sight as vaccines and better treatments become available.
“Difficult though today’s decisions undoubtedly are please do not forget that an end to all of us this is now within our grasp; but we must get through the next few months as safely as possible, and that means tough decisions cannot be avoided no matter how much you and I fervently wish they could be.”
Widespread business closures under level four
Under level four, measures are closer to those experienced under the full lockdown earlier in the year.
Pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, hairdressers, beauty salons, galleries, museums and libraries are among the places which will be forced to close.
Many shops will also have to shut with only “essential retail” remaining open.
Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation can only operate for “essential customers”.
Unnecessary travel into and out of level four areas is not advised except for certain exceptions.
Schools will remain open at all levels.
The tier three rules currently in place across Tayside and Fife mean non-essential travel is not be permitted, with alcohol unable to be served from licensed premises.
Up to six people from two different households can meet at pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes – which are able to sell food and non-alcoholic drinks inside or outside.
Leisure and entertainment businesses such as cinemas are closed; however shops, gyms, hotels and visitor attractions remain open.
What about the rest of Scotland?
Elsewhere in Scotland: the Highlands, Western Isles, 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.
East Lothian and Midlothian are being reduced from level three to two from Friday.
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