Nicola Sturgeon today admitted she cannot rule out imposing nationwide coronavirus restrictions on Scotland ‘in the next few weeks’ as she unveiled her new five-tier plan for local lockdowns.
The First Minister this afternoon revealed which parts of Scotland will be in which tier when her new rules come into force from Monday.
She urged people to ‘dig in and stick with it’ but she conceded rising infection rates could ultimately force her to ditch her regional approach in favour of a blanket national crackdown.
Ms Sturgeon’s tier system goes from a rating of zero which broadly equates to normal life, all the way up to Level Four where people would be subject to the kind of lockdown imposed across the UK at the end of March.
The majority of local authority areas will start in Tier Three which means people who live there will be prohibited from socialising indoors or outdoors with anybody they do not live with.
Nicola Sturgeon today unveiled her new five-tier plan for local lockdowns as she said which parts of Scotland will be subject to which restrictions
Nicola Sturgeon’s five-tier lockdown system: Which areas are in which tier?
Level Zero: No areas.
Level One: Highland, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland.
Level Two: Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Fife, Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Argyll & Bute, Perth & Kinross, Angus.
Level Three: Inverclyde East, Dunbartonshire West, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, City of Glasgow, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian, East Lothian, Dundee, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire.
Level Four: No areas.
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘We are, as of now, making progress in Scotland. But cases are still rising and the situation we face is fragile. And across Europe the pandemic is accelerating.
‘So I cannot rule out a move back to nationwide restrictions in the next few weeks, including at Level Four.
‘That could happen if, for example, cases in parts of the county start to rise faster again, to the extent that controlling spread with travel restrictions will not be effective.’
The new restrictions will come into force from 6am on Monday and Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in Holyrood that decisions to change the levels of each local authority area, depending on increases and decreases in infections, will be put before the Scottish Parliament on Tuesdays.
Any changes would then come into force from the following Friday.
The decisions will be reviewed each week and the next review will take place on November 10, with any changes coming into force on November 13.
Ms Sturgeon said that no local authority areas will be placed in the Zero level to begin with.
More isolated parts of the country like the Highlands, Moray, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland will be placed in the second lowest level of restrictions.
Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Fife, the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, Perth and Kinross and Angus will be in placed into Level Two.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said there was a ‘finely balanced’ decision made to put the Borders and Argyll and Bute in Level Two rather than Level One, which she said was due to their proximity to areas where the level of coronavirus was higher.
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘In both cases one of the key factors in reaching our decision was the interconnection with neighbouring areas – particularly with health services in Lothian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
‘We have also considered the impact of travel from nearby areas with higher prevalence of Covid-19.
‘As a result we have decided to take a cautious approach by applying Level 2 to both areas. We will, however, consider this decision very carefully at the next review point.’
The Scottish central belt which includes Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as Dundee, Inverclyde and Ayrshire, will all start in Level Three.
North and South Lanarkshire were being considered for Level Four earlier this week, according to a letter from the Scottish Government to local authority body Cosla, however the decision was made to put the council areas into Level Three.
The First Minister said: ‘There is evidence in recent days that the situation is stabilising. That is undoubtedly down to the compliance and sacrifices of local people.
‘And the local councils, NHS Lanarkshire and the police believe they have strong partnership plans in place to maintain that progress under current restrictions.
‘For these reasons – and given the severity of Level Four restrictions – we have decided that North and South Lanarkshire should remain in Level Three at present.
‘However, 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.’
Ms Sturgeon urged people to stick to new travel restrictions which will come into force from Monday.
Under the new five-tier system of restrictions, local authority areas in Level Three or Four are asked not to travel outside their local authority area.
Those in lower level areas have also been asked not to travel into council areas which are subject to higher restrictions.
The First Minister said: ‘I know travel restrictions are unwelcome and can be controversial, but they are an absolutely essential part of any regional approach to tackling Covid.
‘They are – unfortunately – a price we must pay for more targeted restrictions.
‘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.’