The First Minister has confirmed the latest changes to Scotland’s local protection levels.
Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 8 December that all 11 council areas which have been under Level 4 restrictions will move into Level 3.
She also confirmed that Edinburgh will not move from Level 3, despite health officials recommending that the city be moved into Level 2 earlier this week.
Five other areas in the country will move into a lower local protection level.
It comes as Ms Sturgeon reported a further 692 positive cases in Scotland in the last 24 hours and 33 deaths from Covid-19.
There are 983 people in hospital with Covid-19, with 57 people in ICU.
Here is everything you need to know from Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement.
What did the First Minister announce?
Nicola Sturgeon set out the latest restrictions for each council area.
The changes will come into force on Friday 11 December, and will be in place for a week while they are reviewed again.
The review looked at each of Scotland’s 32 council areas and local protection levels were decided depending on the prevalence of the virus within each individual area.
Why isn’t Edinburgh moving to level 2?
The First Minister confirmed that ministers had made the “difficult decision” not to move the City of Edinburgh into Level 2 restrictions.
Directors of Public Health Scotland were said to have advised the Scottish Government that the city had met all of the necessary criteria to move down from its current Level 3 restrictions.
However, Nicola Sturgeon said ministers had looked at the situation in the capital “very carefully”, and while the cases per 100,000 people there were below the average rate in Scotland, cases have risen in recent days.
She added that the “imminence of the Christmas period” had an impact on the decision making, as a move to Level 2 would open up more services in Edinburgh which risks increased transmission.
Ms Sturgeon said she wants the situation in the city to “be as stable as possible” before moving to Level 2.
A move to Level 2 will still be considered next week for Edinburgh and Midlothian.
Full list of levels
Some areas in Scotland will move into a more lenient local lockdown level, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed during the announcement.
She said the prevalence of the virus in many areas had fallen “significantly”.
Areas that were in Level 4 will move to Level 3 from Friday 11 December at 6pm, with retail premises permitted to open from 6am on that day to help stores manage the flow of customers when reopening.
The areas moving from Level 4 to Level 3 are:
The areas remaining in Level 3 are:
|Perth and Kinross|
The areas moving to Level 2 due to reduced rates of transmission are:
Other Level 2 areas are:
|Argyll and Bute|
It was also confirmed that some regions in Scotland will be moving into Level 1 due to a drop in cases.
|Dumfries and Galloway|
Other Level 1 areas are:
Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles were the only places in Scotland where six people from two households can meet inside, but this rule will be extended to all other islands which aren’t connected to the mainland by road, like Skye.
When will the restrictions end?
There is currently no confirmed end date for the five-tier system in Scotland.
It is likely that these local lockdown restrictions will continue into the spring and even summer months, until a significant proportion of the population has been vaccinated.
The first people were immunised in Scotland on 8 December, but it could take months before enough people are given the jab.
Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said it is hoped that under 50s will begin to be vaccinated against coronavirus by the summer.
He said the aim was to vaccinate all over 50s in the country during the first half of 2021, targeting those most at risk from the virus.
This means we are likely to face varying degrees of local lockdown during the first half of 2021, at least.