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Cafes and shops to reopen in Scotland as coronavirus restrictions eased
11 December 2020, 07:10
Cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers are reopening in many areas of Scotland for the first time in three weeks as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday that no area of Scotland will remain in Level 4 when changes come into force on Friday.
The toughest tier of restrictions was imposed on 11 Scottish council areas -including Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Stirling - on November 20. They will now all move down to Level 3.
More than two million people had been subject to the level four restrictions since 20 November.
Non-essential shops in these areas will be able to reopen from 6am on Friday. The rest of the changes will come into effect from 6pm that day.
Hospitality businesses in Level 3 areas must close their doors by 6pm, meaning they will have to wait until Saturday to welcome back customers for food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Five other council areas in Scotland will have restrictions eased, the First Minister said.
Inverclyde, Falkirk and Angus will move from Level 3 to Level 2, while Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders will move to Level 1.
People in areas moving into Level 2 will be able to enjoy alcoholic drinks with a main meal in licensed premises, which must shut by 8pm.
Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can also reopen while public transport is no longer deemed something which should be avoided.
Those in Level 1 will be able to enjoy small seated indoor events as well as limited numbers inside stadiums.
Pubs can also serve alcohol until 9.30pm without customers having to buy food.
All other council areas will remain in their current levels.
50 people who had tested positive for the virus died on Thursday across Scotland, bringing the total to 4,039.
But data released by the National Records of Scotland on Wednesday stated that 5,868 people have died with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.
And a total of 103,305 people have now tested positive for the virus, 984 of whom are currently in hospital.
The latest data shows the R number has fallen below one, which experts say shows that the restrictions are having the desired effect.
The country has also started to vaccinate people with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after an initial batch of 65,000 doses arrived at the weekend with more due next week.
It comes amid the news that areas in England could be forced to move up the Tier system as cases surge in some places.
London now has the highest coronavirus rate in England, new Public Health England figures show, with the capital edging closer to Tier 3 restrictions.
Infection rates in the city are now at 191.8 per 100,000 people for the week of 30 November to 6 December, according to the weekly surveillance survey by Public Health England (PHE).
However, infections have plateaued across the rest of the country and fallen in some parts, such as the West Midlands where the rate is down to 158.4 per 100,000 from 196.8 the previous week.
Londoners have been urged to follow coronavirus guidance to prevent the city from being plunged into Tier 3 measures.
It comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned residents a surge in cases means it risks moving up from Tier 2.