Toughest coronavirus restrictions to be eased later this week in Scotland

8 December 2020, 16:23

Glasgow has been under the harshest restrictions since November 20
Glasgow has been under the harshest restrictions since November 20. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Areas of Scotland living under the toughest coronavirus restrictions will see them eased this week, allowing cafes, restaurants, shops and hairdressers to reopen.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said no area of Scotland will remain under Level 4 curbs when changes come into force from Friday.

The toughest tier of restrictions was imposed on 11 Scottish council areas including Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Stirling on November 20.

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Non-essential shops in these areas will be able to reopen from 6am on Friday. The rest of the changes will come into affect from 6pm that day.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday that 33 coronavirus deaths and 692 positive tests have been recorded in the past 24 hours.

She said the first vaccinations against Covid-19 on Tuesday morning mean "we may now be at the beginning of the end of this pandemic".

While she said the prevalence of the virus has "fallen significantly" in all 11 areas in west and central Scotland in Level 4, she warned against complacency.

"In reaching decisions today, we have had to consider the potential overall impact of moving to a lower level of restrictions at the same time as the Christmas period begins in earnest," she said.

"That has led us to a proportionate but still cautious set of conclusions."

Five other council areas in Scotland will have restrictions eased later this week, 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.

The First Minister told MSPs moving Edinburgh to Level 2 was considered but the proximity to Christmas quashed that decision. This position will be reassessed next week.

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will also remain in Level 2, with cases having fallen in the past week.

Current travel restrictions across Scotland will remain in place, with Ms Sturgeon saying these "continue to be a vital part of keeping the country safe with a targeted and proportionate approach to restrictions".

She said: "Nobody in a Level 3 area, or until Friday a Level 4 area, should travel outside their local authority area, except for very specific purposes.

"And no-one should travel into level 3 or 4 areas unless for essential purposes.”

The First Minister also said further business support in Scotland will be announced on Wednesday.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes will lay out support to Parliament as businesses across the country are forced to remain closed.

Consideration will also be given by Scottish ministers to changing the content of the different restriction levels, with particular focus on opening hospitality businesses.