Coronavirus Scotland: Where is Moray, why is it pronounced Murray, how bad is the covid outbreak, will Nicola Sturgeon lift restrictions?

As Nicola Sturgeon is set to outline plans for the next lockdown easing in Scotland, many questions are being asked about the situation in Moray and whether or not it will follow the country in restriction lifting.

Elgin Cathedral, Moray (Photo: Shutterstock).

Here is everything you need to know about Moray before the First Minister’s announcement just after midday on Tuesday, May 11.

Where is Moray and why is it pronounced ‘Murray’?

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Located in the north-east of the country, with coastline on the Moray Firth, Moray borders the council areas of Aberdeenshire and Highland.

Etymologically, Moray comes from the Celtic words mori 'sea' and treb 'settlement' – not to be confused with the sea eel moray which comes from Latin murēna (sea eel) via the Ancient Greek σμύραινα (smúraina).

With regards to the pronunciation as Murray, we will probably find our answer in Scots dialect. The surname Murray is a common variation with Moray, an anglicisation of the Medieval Gaelic word Muireb (or Moreb).

The founder of the Clan Murray was Freskin, a Pictish or Flemish knight who lived during the twelfth century.

The ancient Pictish kingdom of Moray was given to Freskin.

Freskin's descendants were given the surname de Moravia ("of Moray" in the Norman language) and this became 'Murray' in the Lowland Scottish language.

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How bad is the covid outbreak?

NHS Grampian is battling an “uncontrolled” outbreak in Moray, and the Scottish Government warned on Friday that it would “closely monitor” the situation ahead of any move to level 2.

Latest figures show coronavirus rates of 93 per 100,000 in Moray – significantly higher than the rate in the rest of the country.

Cases are also expected to rise in the council area in the coming days as the impact of the previous easing of restrictions is felt.

By contrast, regions near Moray are significantly lower with coronavirus rates in Aberdeenshire at 8.42 and 7.63 in the Highlands.

The localised Moray outbreak has been attributed partly to low levels of Covid-19 in Moray throughout the past year – leading to low immunity, and people not following rules because of a perception that the virus is no longer a significant risk.

To tackle the outbreak, NHS Grampian has rolled out a new PCR mobile testing unit and has tests analysed by a laboratory. It was opened at Elgin Academy for staff and pupils after more than 50 cases were reported at the school.

The vaccination programme has been increased in the region with appointments being offered to all over 18s with some already receiving their jabs.

Will Nicola Sturgeon lift restrictions in Moray?

NHS Grampian has said that Moray should not move to Level 2 restrictions with the rest of Scotland next week as the health board battles a Covid-19 outbreak which is expected to get worse in the coming days .

Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, said it would be “wrong” to relax restrictions in Moray at this point.

The Scottish Government threshold for regions moving to Level 2 restrictions is fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

It is therefore unlikely that Moray will follow the rest of Scotland if Nicola Sturgeon confirms lockdown easing across the country.

Follow the Scotsman’s Live Blog for the latest updates including the First Minister’s lockdown easing announcement.

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