Three parts of Scotland have been moved into a tougher tier of coronavirus restrictions.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross would move into Level 3 restrictions from Friday.
It means 21 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities are now in this grade – the second highest under the country’s five-tier system of measures.
People in the island council areas of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles will be able to meet with one other household inside their homes to a maximum of six people.
This relaxation has been welcomed by Western Isles Council leader Roddie Mackay.
Speaking about the decision to move Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross into Level 3, the First Minister told MSPs at Holyrood on Tuesday: “The most recent data shows that, in the space of a week, the seven-day number of cases per 100,000 of the 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 2 restrictions may not be sufficient to slow down and reverse increases of this magnitude and, as a result, an early move to Level 3 was strongly recommended.”
The move means these areas, like authorities already in Level 3 in the central belt, Dundee and Ayrshire, will face tougher restrictions on hospitality.
People living in these areas are advised against using public transport unless necessary and told not to leave their local authority for non-essential reasons.
Entertainment venues such as cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls must close.
No alcohol is allowed to be served indoors and hospitality premises can only stay open until 6pm, rather than 8pm at Level 2.
It also means adults can no longer take part in group sports outside and only individual exercise is allowed indoors.
Due to the new restrictions in Perth and Kinross, the Gleneagles Hotel has announced it will close for 11 weeks.
Vicki Unite, chief executive of Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, said the ripple effect will have a severe impact on local businesses.
She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It’s a severe impact, it’s very negative and we have a lot of small businesses, micro-businesses in that area, they are all really up against it and a lot of our big supplier businesses, they’re great at using local suppliers, so the ripple effect is huge.
“It’s still a worry because of the uncertainty (of the pandemic) and what we’re seeing is our businesses are working so hard, above and beyond, to stick to the criteria that’s set out.
“They invested a lot of time and energy and money to make sure that their businesses are set up to meet the criteria and working safely, and still this happens so it feels a bit out of control.
“The unfortunate thing is the virus is not emanating from the businesses being penalised, but we do appreciate people need to be kept safe.”
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