Travel restrictions introduced to reduce transmission rates and keep people safe.
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 Sturgeon also announced that travel restrictions will be put into law to prevent people who live in a Level 3 or Level 4 local authority area from travelling outside their local authority except for an essential purpose - such as work or caring responsibilities. The regulations also non-essential travel into a Level 3 or 4 local authority area, except for the same reasons.
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:
Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar
Argyll and Bute
Dumfries and Galloway
Perth and Kinross
East Lothian and Midlothian will remain in Level 3 until Tuesday 24 November when they will move to Level 2.
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.