Tayside and Fife will not be moved from Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions this week, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said no changes would be made to the current tiered system being used to combat the spread of coronavirus across Scotland.
She also said plans are in place to vaccinate some Scots before Christmas.
The whole of Tayside and Fife has been under Level 3 restrictions for several weeks now, with limits on travel into and out of the areas and strict rules in place on hospitality.
Confirming that Angus, Dundee, Fife, and Perth and Kinross would remain under the third tier of restrictions, Ms Sturgeon said: “Last week I expressed some concern about rising cases numbers in Clackmannanshire and Perth and Kinross but I’m pleased to note that numbers in both of these areas have stabilised and at this stage are improving.”
Moray, the Highlands, the Western Isles and the Northern Isles will remain at Level 1.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will stay under Level 2 rules despite concerns about the rising infection rate and case numbers being higher there than in neighbouring Angus.
Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, the Borders, and East Lothian will also remain in level two.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We have been looking and will continue to look carefully in the days to come at both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
“Cases in both these local authority areas have increased quite sharply in the past week by 68% in Aberdeen and 42% in Aberdeenshire.
“That means their cases numbers – although it is important to stress that in both areas their case numbers are below the national average – are nevertheless higher than in some Level 3 areas – for example Angus. Case positivity has also increased in both areas.”
Ms Sturgeon added that subject to regulatory decisions they remain very hopeful that they may be in a position to start vaccinating people in Scotland even before Christmas.
She said: “I can confirm that we are ready to begin that process just as soon as we receive the supplies of vaccine.”
She said they are hopeful that by the spring a significant proportion of the people most vulnerable to Covid will be vaccinated.
Ms Sturgeon has asked for senior health officials to consider the situation in the north-east “in more depth” in the coming days, and did not rule placing both areas up a Level before next week “if the situation merited that”.
They are: Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.
It comes after Scotland recorded another 754 new Covid-19 cases and 34 deaths in the past day.
The country’s R-number is now believed to be slightly below one.
What’s the difference between Levels 3 and 4?
Under Level 4, measures are closer to those experienced under the full lockdown earlier in the year.
Pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, hairdressers, beauty salons, galleries, museums and libraries are among the places which are forced to close.
Many shops also have to shut with only “essential retail” remaining open.
Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation can only operate for “essential customers”.
Unnecessary travel into and out of Level 4 areas is not advised except for certain exceptions.
The tier three rules currently in place across Tayside and Fife mean non-essential travel is not be permitted, with alcohol unable to be served from licensed premises.
Up to six people from two different households can meet at pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes – which are able to sell food and non-alcoholic drinks inside or outside.
Leisure and entertainment businesses such as cinemas are closed; however shops, gyms, hotels and visitor attractions remain open.
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