Majority of Scottish councils placed in level three as new tier restrictions announced
No councils in Scotland have been placed into the highest level of COVID restrictions in the first stage of the new tier alert system.
Nicola Sturgeon unveiled where each local authority sits within the new five-tier system, where level zero is the closest to normality and level four is the closest to the lockdown imposed in March.
Although it had been expected that North and South Lanarkshire would be placed in level four, the First Minister confirmed they would go into level three for the time being – along with the majority of Scotland’s council areas.
She said: “I want to be very clear that this has been a borderline decision and it is one that we require to keep under review – not just weekly, but on a daily basis.
“I would appeal to people across Lanarkshire to continue to play your part. Please abide strictly with all the rules and guidance, to help ensure that the rise in cases continues to slow and that more severe restrictions can be avoided.”
Highland, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have all been assessed as level one, with the FM stating that the government was taking a “deliberately cautious approach”.
The authorities placed into level two restrictions are Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Fife, the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, Perth and Kinross, and Angus.
Sturgeon said that the decision on whether the Borders and Argyll and Bute should be assessed as level one or level two was “finely balanced”, but their proximity and “interconnection” with neighbouring council areas was a key factor, particularly with health services in Lothian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Joining North and South Lanarkshire in level three are Inverclyde, East and West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, the City of Glasgow, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, the City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian, East Lothian and Dundee.
The restrictions will be reviewed weekly, and the First Minister already indicated that the government may soon be in a position to move some areas into tier two, including East Lothian and possibly Edinburgh.
Sturgeon spoke about the “resurgence” in the virus in Europe and across the world as she made her announcement.
“Just last night, both France and Germany reimposed nationwide lockdowns,” she said. “In Scotland, we acted early with some difficult but necessary measures, and we hope that this will have the effect of slowing the spread and preventing further deterioration in our position."
She told MSPs: “At present, we do not judge it safe or prudent to place any part of the country into the baseline level zero. However, if we see continued progress, I hope that might change. I hope that will change in the weeks ahead.”
The First Minister also advised people not to travel outwith their council areas unless essential.
She stressed that people living in a level three council area – or in future a level four area – should not travel outside the council area they live in and those living in level one or two local authority areas must not travel into level three or four areas.
She said there were some exceptions to this rule, including travel for work, education, local outdoor exercise, healthcare or caring responsibilities, and essential shopping where that is not possible locally.
While the travel restrictions are currently only guidance, they could become enforceable if members of the public do not comply.
Sturgeon said: "If people don’t abide by the travel advice, the virus will spread from high to lower prevalence areas, and a differentiated approach will become unsustainable. In these circumstances, we would have to return to national restrictions."
Gathering inside a house with people from different households is still not permitted anywhere in Scotland at the moment.
The new restrictions come into place from Monday at 6am.