Three Scots council areas face tougher restrictions but none move up to Level 4
Tougher restrictions are being introduced in three parts of Scotland to combat rising levels of coronavirus – but no council areas will yet be subject to a Level 4 lockdown.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross are to move into Level 3 restrictions from Friday.
That means 21 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities are now in this level – the second highest under the country’s five-tier system of measures.
Announcing the results of the first review of levels under the new system on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon warned there are “still tough times ahead” after the country recorded 832 confirmed new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.
The latest daily figures also showed 39 more deaths were registered as a result of the virus.
While Ms Sturgeon said there are “some signs of a fall in hospital admissions”, she also warned Glasgow, Lanarkshire, West Lothian and West Dunbartonshire cases have stabilised at a “stubbornly high level”.
Ministers are also concerned about a “sharp rise” in infections in Inverclyde and Stirling and, to a lesser extent, South Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, she said.
While Ms Sturgeon said the expert advice is “an immediate move to Level 4 would not be merited”, she added these areas will be monitored closely “on a daily basis”.
Other areas in the central belt – including the City of Edinburgh – may be able to move down a tier “relatively soon”, she added.
Speaking about the decision to move Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross into Level 3, the First Minister told MSPs at Holyrood: “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.
Ms Sturgeon made clear she will not “shy away” from imposing the toughest Level 4 restrictions if they are deemed necessary.
This level requires non-essential shops to close, along with businesses such as bars, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers.
Ms Sturgeon stressed: “We will not take a decision to move any part of the country to that level lightly.
“But nor will we shy away from it if we think it necessary to limit the damage the virus can do.”
While no areas are in Level 0 with the lowest restrictions, five local authorities – Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles – will remain at Level 1.
From Friday, residents in the three island authorities will be able to meet one other household inside their homes “up to a strict maximum of six people”, the First Minister said.
Travel restrictions continue to be an “essential” part of the multi-tiered approach being taken in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said, with people living in Level 3 areas advised not to travel outside their own local authority.
While ministers have been considering putting this guidance into law, Ms Sturgeon said this will not happen yet.
She told people: “We will not hesitate to do that if we think it necessary.”