Eleven local authorities are to move into the highest protection level as efforts continue to suppress the incidence of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the weeks up to Christmas.
Speaking in parliament this afternoon, First Minister Nicola
The changes to protection levels will come into effect at 6pm this Friday (20 November) and will remain in place for three weeks until Friday 11 December.
The City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian will move from Level 3 – where they have been since the new levels system was announced – to Level 4.
The City of Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Dundee, Fife, Perth & Kinross and Angus will all remain at Level 3.
Restrictions around outdoor socialising for those in Level 1 are to be extended to allow eight people from three households to meet outdoors. Previously only six people from two households were permitted to meet outdoors.
The First Minister said:
“In the seven days up to Friday, Scotland as a whole had just over 140 new cases of COVID per 100,000 people. All of the areas moving to Level 4 were above that level – ranging from West Lothian, with a rate of 158 cases per 100,000, to Glasgow with 277.
“We simply do not have the assurance we need that hospital and ICU services will be able to cope as we go deeper into winter. Pressure on hospitals in these areas – and on those who work in them – is already severe and with the additional pressure that the coming weeks may bring, it could easily become intolerable.
“At these levels we would not have the flexibility we need to ease restrictions over Christmas – which, in common with the other UK nations, we so desperately want to do.
“The clear advice of our public health experts is that we must drive infection rates down further in these areas. They are not confident that Level 3 restrictions will do this to the extent necessary.
“That is why, albeit reluctantly, we have taken the decision to place these areas into Level 4 for three weeks. I know people are frustrated that other restrictions have remained in place longer than planned but Level 4 is intended to be short and sharp. And in this situation, it is specifically intended to have an impact in advance of Christmas and the most winter challenging period.
“Our objective in taking this action now is to protect the NHS, open the possibility of seeing some loved ones at Christmas and complete the journey to next spring with as few restrictions as possible and with the minimum impact on life and health.”
Updated travel guidance will be published ahead of the travel regulations being introduced on Friday 20 November.
From 6pm Friday 20 November, the level allocations will be:
Dumfries and Galloway
The assessment of what level of protection should be applied to each local authority is broadly based on an analysis of five key indicators:
- number of positive COVID-19 cases per hundred thousand people over the last week
- percentage of positive tests
- forecast for new cases in the weeks ahead
- capacity of local hospitals
- capacity of local intensive care facilities
These factors are assessed alongside the advice and recommendations of local public health officials, National Incident Management Team, the Scottish Government’s chief clinical and policy advisors, and consideration of local circumstances, such as: specific COVID-19 outbreaks; travel and work patterns; and the extent to which health services are provided by neighbouring health boards. Final decisions are based on all of these factors.
Alongside a table setting out the levels, a detailed analysis paper has also been published setting out the Scottish Government’s assessment and overall decision for each local authority.
The five-level strategic framework aims to tackle COVID-19 with measures strong enough to reduce virus prevalence while proportionate to the scale of the problem in different parts of the country – and in a way that minimises, as far as possible, the other harms caused by the pandemic.
NON-ESSENTIAL travel into England will become illegal at 6pm tomorrow and the measures will last for three weeks.
The ruling was made by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday.
Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders will both stay in Level 2 but people will be allowed to travel over the border only for essential reasons such as work, medical and food shopping.
Oliver Mundell, Dumfriesshire MSP, said: “These measures were not needed during the height of the first lockdown and it’s hard to see why they are suddenly required now.
“Restricting people in this way causes a lot of anxiety and makes an already difficult situation harder, especially for those in rural and border communities.
“Such measures should be used only as a last resort and I’m unpersuaded by the evidence that we are there yet.”
Colin Smyth, South Scotland MSP, added: “As from tomorrow, people will be breaking the law if they travel across the border for non-essential purposes.
“For the past few weeks people have been asked to avoid travelling to England unless they really needed to but these restrictions up until now have been guidance only. They will now become law.
“With so many people in our border communities travelling between Scotland and England every day for work, health, education and leisure, the Scottish government must ensure they don’t face any barriers to essential travel.
“Scottish Police resources are already stretched to the limit by the extra workload COVID-19 has imposed on them but the specifics of how a travel ban will be properly policed are yet to be seen.
“Police Scotland said officers would use the new powers only as a “last resort” and, presumably, it’s hoped that making restrictions into law will be enough of a deterrent.
“I’ll monitor this situation closely to ensure my constituents are not unfairly penalised by these new rules.”
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: “We’re asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to protect the NHS and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.
“Scotland is, generally, a law-abiding nation and I fully expect public support to continue as these new measures are introduced.
“The policing approach we adopted from the outset of the pandemic will not change.”
Nicol Nicolson, Langholm Alliance community enterprise manager, said: “This is a testing time for everyone and the freedom to cross the border to shop or socialise is something we have long taken for granted.
“However, our priority at present must be keeping our own community safe, particularly as we enter winter and sections of our population become more vulnerable to illness.
“We must follow the rules and not risk even tougher restrictions on our everyday lives.
“The more measures we take to stay safe, the sooner Langholm and Eskdale will be back to enjoying full freedoms and fulfilling our community ambitions.”
Ms Sturgeon also announced that travel restrictions would be put into law to prevent people living in Level 3 or 4 local authority areas from travelling outside that area, except for an essential purpose such as work or caring responsibilities.
Neither would people be able to travel into these areas, except for the same reasons.
Residents in Eskdale and Liddesdale have made a number of comments about the new restrictions from expressing confusion to saying that it would make no difference because the border would not be actively policed.
Others said saving lives was what was most important and the rules would not last forever. They could shop in Annan or Hawick.
It was important that the two regions were not moved into Level 3 because that would damage businesses but try to drop down into Level 1 where people had more freedom.
England has been in lockdown for two weeks and one person said people needed to use their common sense about essential journeys.
Another pointed out that going to Gretna down the A7 via Longtown meant people were travelling to a destination in their own council area.
Many farmers took their livestock to Longtown so that would continue.