New tiered COVID strategy to be published on Friday
The new strategic plan setting out a tiered approach to public health restrictions going forward will be published on Friday, the First Minister has confirmed.
The framework will set out different levels of restrictions which could be applied regionally or nationally over the coming months.
It will be debated and voted on by MSPs next week, with a view to coming into force on 2 November.
Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed existing restrictions on the hospitality sector will continue for another week to coincide with the new framework coming into force.
She said: “We can’t rule out that this new approach will entail further extension of existing restrictions or perhaps even tougher restrictions for all or parts of the country, if we think that is necessary to safeguard health and life.
“But that will depend on up to date assessments of the impact of the current restrictions – and it’s also important to be very clear that all of our decisions will also be balanced by an assessment of the wider harms that COVID and the measures we’re taking to have it are having.”
The tier which will apply to each part of the country will be decided “in the coming days”, she added.
Scottish Labour has said the strategy must include support mechanisms for those under tighter restrictions, as well as calling for the test and tracing system to be stepped up.
Leader Richard Leonard said: "For any new strategy to work we need to see the establishment of a much better relationship between central and local government, the full involvement and scrutiny of Parliament and the consent of the people.
“The plan delivered by the Scottish Government must include details on how jobs and incomes will be protected, clarity on how another tragedy in Scotland’s care homes will be prevented, detail how health services will be maintained over the winter and a plan to expand and strengthen our testing system.
“Both governments need to work together to deliver on testing and mitigate against losses that people may face.”
The First Minister also reported 28 people had died following a positive COVID test, the highest number of deaths in the daily figures since May.
However, she added that while the numbers were “concerning”, it did not mean “current restrictions are having no effect” as the people could have been infected a number of weeks ago.
The restrictions on operation hours for pubs, bars and restaurants and which prevent the serving of alcohol indoors are to remain in place across Scotland, as are the tighter rules requiring all licensed premises in the Central Belt except cafes to close.
Sturgeon said: “Although we have grounds for cautious optimism that the restrictions are having an effect, the clinical advice to Cabinet is that it would not be safe to lift them as early as Monday."
It is also not permitted to visit other households indoors across Scotland.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: "Everyone has known for months that there would be a second wave, but the government was still not ready for it.
"The routemap was replaced by the 16-day restriction which has now been replaced by a 23-day restriction and that is to be replaced by a new strategy next week. That’s four plans in three weeks. Now even schools may close, yet the government has not built the capacity to hunt down and drive out the virus. There’s not enough testing and results are taking too long."