THE move to impose Level 4 restrictions on Scotland for three weeks from this Saturday has shocked and disappointed both residents and retailers in Eskdale and Liddesdale.
Both areas have only just dropped from Level 2 to Level 1 allowing people more freedom as the number of cases dropped.
The five-day relaxation over Christmas has been removed and people can meet only on Christmas day and can’t travel to any other country in the UK. Travel within Scotland is allowed tomorrow only.
The clampdown has been imposed because of the rapid spread of a new, highly-contagious strain of COVID-19 which spreads more quickly.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Saturday that tomorrow legal household limits would still apply: a maximum of eight people from three households but her advice was to minimise the numbers.
Where possible, people should celebrate at home in their own household and meet with others outdoors.
From Saturday Level 4 restrictions will apply, including the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality.
Next month teachers will return to work as planned, along with children of key workers and the most vulnerable children.
For most pupils the holiday will be extended until January 11 and learning will begin online from then until at least January 18.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We are concerned that this strain may drive what appears to be faster transmission in some hospitals and care homes.
“We intend to maintain a strict travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK during the festive period. We can’t risk more of this strain entering the country if we can possibly avoid it.
“My message is stay at home, stay safe and enjoy Christmas. It’s in your own interest and the interest of everyone you love.”
Jo Elliot, who owns Holmspun in Langholm High Street said: “Unfortunately, I will have to close again. I’m open today until 2pm.
“I’ll be at the shop at least once a week working away in the background, and making new stock and, hopefully, uploading to the Facebook page.”
Sam Park, who owns the Crown Hotel with her husband, Steve, said: “They say it’s for three weeks and as long as it is, we’ll be okay.”
There will be no meals served tomorrow but the bar and café will be open.
Sam added: “We’ll carry on with the take-aways – drinks as well – to shore things up a bit.”
She said being plunged into Level 4 was “a bit of a shock” and they wouldn’t be seeing family as planned.
She said: “We’ll try to make it work and, touch wood, it’s for three weeks only. We’ll just grit our teeth and get on with it.”
Katherine Latimer of Latimers of Langholm said it would be business as usual for the shop and they expected deliveries to continue.
The shop will reopen after Christmas next Monday. She re-emphasised the need for customers to take precautions and, if they were shielding or had the virus, they should not come in.
She said: “The town had made such progress, the shops were full, people were shopping locally and now we’re going from Level 1 to Level 4.”
The COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Dumfries and Galloway is on course to vaccinate care home residents and staff with their second jab by January 16.
The first of the two jabs will have been administered by today.
Immunity begins to develop after the first dose but is fully established seven days after the second.
Julie White, chief officer of the Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Care homes are particularly vulnerable so the protection this vaccine offers will be a huge comfort and relief to residents and their families as well as the staff.
“To date, 1,200 vaccinations have been delivered to medical staff working in patient-facing areas where they may encounter patients with COVID-19.
It is expected the programme will accelerate significantly when the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine is approved.
It is anticipated that the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine will become available next week.
Vaccination of people aged over 80 is scheduled to start on January 18, subject to regulatory approval.
GP practices will schedule appointments for people aged over 80 in early January so there is no need to contact the practices or the NHS.