Strict coronavirus restrictions are to remain in place in Glasgow for another week but will then be lifted if measures to tackle the outbreak continue to have an impact, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister told a Covid-19 briefing that while case numbers in the city are “uncomfortably” high, there are signs both positive tests and the rate of people in hospital with the virus are stabilising.
She said a decision would be made by Wednesday at the latest on whether the city can move to Level 2 next Saturday.
Glasgow is currently in Level 3 of the five tiers of restrictions, while the rest of the country is in Level 2.
People in the city are not able to meet others indoors in private residences, hug relatives, travel out of the city or drink alcohol indoors in pubs due to the more severe restrictions.
Ms Sturgeon also said that she will confirm on Tuesday if the country as a whole can move to Level 1 as planned on June 7.
She said: “The view of the national incident management team is two-fold. Firstly, that it would be premature to move Glasgow out of Level 3 immediately this week while the situation remains so fragile.
“However, and secondly, if incidence continues to stabilise and assuming levels of hospitalisation remain reasonably stable, the incident management team has made clear to me that they would support a move to Level 2 from the end of next week.”
She added: “My message to the people of Glasgow is don’t lose heart. On the contrary, take heart from the progress that we are seeing.
“I live in Glasgow so I know how hard this is from my own personal life, but please continue to help with all of the public health efforts that are in place because if we continue to do this then we will make that move down from Level 3 to Level 2, and then after that hopefully get back on track and down the levels further.”
The latest figures for Scotland show two coronavirus deaths and 641 cases in the past 24 hours.
It means the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – stands at 7,668
Of the new cases, 234 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 132 in Lothian and 104 in Lanarkshire.
Case numbers, Ms Sturgeon said, are on the rise in Scotland, with Friday’s increase the highest since March 25 and the R number in Scotland potentially rising as high as 1.3.
She said: “A key factor behind the increases… is that the new April-02 (Indian) variant, which we think is more transmissible than most other types of the virus, probably now accounts for 50% or even more of our daily cases.
“The increase in cases so far does seem to be concentrated in younger age groups and this may indicate that vaccination is having a protective effect for older people, which of course we want to see.”
The First Minister went on to say that the Scottish Government is monitoring the extent to which the vaccine programme is breaking the link between rising cases and “significantly rising cases of serious illness and death”.
Earlier on Friday, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Things do look like they are stabilising in Glasgow.”
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Prof Bauld said: “I think what makes it different from last year is that it does seem most of the infections are in younger adults – that was the case last year – but it’s not translating through yet to high numbers of people in hospital because fewer older people are becoming infected.”
Scottish Conservative coronavirus recovery spokesman Murdo Fraser said a “more targeted” approach is needed in Glasgow.
Speaking on the same programme, he argued that areas with higher concentrations of coronavirus infections should be targeted with testing and vaccinations rather than the whole city being subject to “blanket” restrictions.
Mr Fraser said: “Our view is the current council-wide lockdown in Glasgow has not been the right approach.
“Large parts of Glasgow do not see large numbers of people infected with Covid and yet are affected by these lockdown restrictions.”