Holyrood is set to debate the introduction of a five-tier plan of measures for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland.
The tiered system has been expected since Boris Johnson introduced a similar set of measures to England earlier this month.
The new system will first need to pass a vote at Holyrood, with measures due to come into place on November 2.
Speaking at her press briefing on Friday 23 October, Nicola Sturgeon said the changes are required to help Scotland live with coronavirus, and can apply to specific council areas or nationwide if necessary.
Citizens of Scotland are now waiting in anticipation to see which tier of restrictions their area of the country is placed under.
How do the new measures work?
Nicola Sturgeon broke down the tiers as follows:
Level 0: “Broadly comparable to the position we reached in August when the virus was very suppressed in Scotland but still a threat. At this level we would be able to meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open, albeit with safety measures in place.”Level 1: “Sees slightly more restrictions, household meetings would reduce to six people from two households but there would still be a reasonable degree of normality overall.”Level 2: “Entails restrictions broadly similar to those currently in place just now outside the central belt, so limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people’s homes.”Level 3: “Broadly similar to the tougher restrictions which currently apply across the central belt, with much of hospitality being closed completely. There are however some key differences, for example we envisage restaurants being able to be open at least partially in Level 3.”Level 4: “The highest level, which of course we would not use unless absolutely necessary, would apply when transmission rates are, or are threatening to become, very high with corresponding pressure on the NHS and perhaps the risk of the NHS being overwhelmed.”
Which areas will be placed under which level?
Until a vote is passed at Holyrood next week regions will not be assigned a specific tier.
A leaked report says that ‘Level 4 is being considered for North and South Lanarkshire’ as part of the new tier system which is due to be announced by the Scottish Government today in a parliamentary debate.
Ahead of the announcement, the chief executive of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), has written to council leaders, giving them a strong indication of what tier of restrictions their authorities will be subject to.
The letter states that Ministers will only consider using ‘level 4’ if necessary, given the severity of the impact of the restrictions in place at this tier.
North and South Lanarkshire are currently the only two areas in the country that data suggests may be considered for ‘level 4’ in the new restriction system but there are
signs which indicates that the situations in these council areas may be stabilising according to the COSLA.
The letter continues: "Ministers will not reach a decision for these two areas until the latest possible point to ensure that they can take account of the fullest possible picture of the effect of measures already in place; but at this stage the use of Level 4 cannot be ruled out.
"If it was necessary, it would be used to avoid still greater harm, including many deaths.
"No changes are currently being considered in relation to other central belt areas. If that remains the case and is confirmed later this week, these areas would remain in Level 3 for the time being.”
There are signs of progress being made in Edinburgh and East Lothian but ‘further consolidation of that progress is likely to be required before it would be safe, on public health grounds, to move them to Level 2.’
The rest of the letter reads: “The data for Dundee City also gives cause for concern, with rising numbers of cases.
“Again, a final decision will be made on the basis of data becoming available in the next few days. Meantime, consideration is being given to moving Dundee City to Level 3 in the new framework, broadly equivalent to the measures currently in place in the central belt.
When will areas be assigned a level?
Areas will find out which level they have been assigned sometime between the vote next week on October 27 and November 2 when the measures are scheduled to come into force.