Publication - Strategy/plan

Coronavirus (COVID-19): allocation of levels to local authorities - 8 December 2020

Published: 8 Dec 2020

Outcome of the 5th review of the allocation of levels to local authorities, alongside evidence and analysis informing these decisions.

Published:
8 Dec 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): allocation of levels to local authorities - 8 December 2020

Purpose

This document sets out:

  • the outcome of the 5th review of the allocation of levels to local authorities 
  • a summary of the reasons for changes in allocation

An evidence paper setting out the data and analysis supporting these decisions has also been published.

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): protection level reviews and evidence to ensure you are viewing the most up-to-date review information.

Decision-making process

On 29 October 2020, as part of Scotland’s Strategic Framework, we published the initial allocation of levels to local authorities. These allocations came into effect on 2 November 2020.

The allocation document makes clear that decisions have to be based firmly on the best available evidence, assessed through a process that is open, transparent and collaborative and frequently reviewed so that restrictions are not kept in place longer than is strictly necessary to achieve the aim of suppressing the virus.

The allocations are reviewed weekly and this document sets out the outcome of the fifth review. 

In line with the process set out in the allocations document, the National Incident Management Team (NIMT), chaired by Public Health Scotland and including representatives from local government as observers, met to discuss the latest analysis of data, which had been agreed with local partners including Directors of Public Health. The NIMT then provided advice to a group made up of the Scottish Government’s chief advisers and lead officials representing the “four harms” and observers from local government. This group helped form recommendations for Ministers on allocation of levels, which were discussed with the relevant local authorities, and then agreed by the Scottish Cabinet on 8 December 2020.

The critical indicators which inform the allocation of levels are:

a) The number of cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

b) The percentage of tests that are positive over the past seven days.

c) Forecasts of the number of cases per 100,000 consisting of the weekly number of cases in two weeks’ time.

d) Current and projected future use of local hospital beds, compared with capacity.

e) Current and projected future use of intensive care beds, compared with capacity.

The status of these indicators, including relevant trends for each local authority, is  set out in the separate evidence paper.  The data itself does not determine the relevant level of any local authority, and it is considered alongside local intelligence and other local, regional and national factors.  As Scotland’s Strategic Framework  (p.23) says: 'These decisions require judgement to be applied to all the facts and considerations relevant at the time they are made, and in relation to the area directly affected and for Scotland as a whole.'

Summary of review

In announcing the initial allocation of levels to local authorities to Parliament on 29 October, the First Minister made it clear that the Scottish Government was taking a deliberately cautious approach.  This was not only to reflect the fact that we were introducing a new framework for the first time, but also the fragility of the situation we were facing. 

Since the levels approach was introduced we have seen a decrease in the number of positive cases being reported each day.  This suggests that the protective measures currently in place are having a positive effect.  Prevalence of the virus is still too high, but we hope to see further improvements over the coming weeks as the data reflects the impact of the level 4 measures.

A cautious and limited relaxation of rules over the festive period was announced on 24 November 2020.  Over the period 23-27 December, up to 8 people from a maximum of 3 households can form a “bubble”.  This measure is being introduced to address issues of loneliness and isolation over the festive period, but the safest way to spend Christmas is to stay within your own household, in your own home and your own local area.

There is a significant risk that if family and friends gather for the festive period this could lead to a rise in the R number and increased cases of COVID-19 as a result.  It is therefore important to manage this risk carefully to ensure that the hard work and sacrifices of people and businesses across Scotland are not undermined. 

In order to safely allow limited gathering over Christmas, to mitigate issues of isolation and loneliness during this time a deliberately cautious approach has been taken to this review.  Lowering prevalence of the virus prior to the festive period is key to avoiding the need for more restrictive protective measures in the new year and ensuing that the NHS does not become overwhelmed by a COVID-19 in January, which is traditionally the most challenging time for it. 

The risks around increased social activity over the festive period are particularly acute in large urban areas.  The frequent transport links and high concentrations of hospitality and retail venues mean that these areas can attract large numbers of people over the festive period creating increased opportunities for transmission. This additional risk was also a factor for consideration in this week’s review. 

The outcome of this week’s  review is that a number of changes will be made,  moving areas down to lower levels. This reflects the overall progress seen in the data, with new cases, hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths now all trending down from late-October peaks.  The next scheduled review will be on 15 December. 

The next review after the 15 December will happen early in the New Year. However, we reserve the right to bring that forward for any one or more local authority as the situation requires.

Currently 11 Local Authorities are in level 4.  When announcing this move the First Minister advised that areas would likely remain in level 4 until 11 December.  These areas continue to be closely monitored but the review concluded that it would be appropriate for these areas to all move to level 3 on 11 December.

In order to better manage return of customers to non-essential retail and hospitality settings opening times will be staggered with retail permitted to open from 6am on 11 December and all other settings able to open from 6pm.

The trends in case numbers and test positivity in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire  continue to be a source of concern.  The situation will continue to be monitored closely, and further urgent work will be done with the two local authorities to analyse in detail the underlying causes: but both areas will remain at level 2 for the time being.

Falkirk, Angus, Inverclyde, Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders Local Authorities have shown consistent progress and the data indicates that a move down a level can be sustained. 

  • Falkirk will move from level 3 to level 2
  • Angus will move from level 3 to level 2
  • Inverclyde will move from level 3 to level 2
  • Dumfries and Galloway will move from level 2 to level 1
  • Scottish Borders will move from level 2 to level 1

We remain confident that with local authorities allocated to the appropriate level, the measures in place within the levels will impact positively on the course of the pandemic. That, however may take some time. So while the decisions set out in this document are justified, necessary and proportionate for each local authority, the overall national impact of the measures has also to be considered as part of that assessment. That means that local authorities will not move down levels until there is sustained evidence of improvement, but may require to move up levels quickly in the event of a worsening position to mitigate the risk of deterioration and associated harms.

Local authority: allocation of level to each area and summary of indicators
 

Local authority*

Cases/100k

Test Positivity

Cases/100k forecast

Hospital forecast

ICU forecast

Present level

New Level

East Ayrshire

M

M

L

L

L

4

3

North Ayrshire

M

H

L

L

L

3

3

South Ayrshire

M

L

L

L

L

4

3

Scottish Borders

L

L

VL

L

L

2

1

Dumfries and Galloway

L

L

VL

L

L

2

1

Fife

M

H

L

L

L

3

3

Clackmannanshire

H

L

M

L

L

3

3

Falkirk

L

M

VL

L

L

3

2

Stirling

M

M

M

L

L

4

3

Moray

VL

VL

VL

L

L

1

1

Aberdeen City

L

M

L

L

L

2

2

Aberdeenshire

M

M

M

L

L

2

2

East Renfrewshire

M

H

L

L

L

4

3

Inverclyde

L

L

L

L

L

3

2

Renfrewshire

H

H

M

L

L

4

3

West Dunbartonshire

M

M

VL

L

L

4

3

East Dunbartonshire

M

H

VL

L

L

4

3

Glasgow City

H

H

L

L

L

4

3

Highland

VL

VL

VL

L

L

1

1

Argyll and Bute

H

M

VL

L

L

2

2

South Lanarkshire

M

H

L

L

L

4

3

North Lanarkshire

M

H

L

L

L

4

3

East Lothian

L

M

VL

L

L

2

2

Midlothian

M

H

VL

L

L

3

3

City of Edinburgh

L

M

VL

L

L

3

3

West Lothian

M

H

L

L

L

4

3

Orkney Islands

VL

VL

VL

L

L

1

1

Shetland Islands

VL

VL

VL

L

L

1

1

Angus

L

M

VL

L

L

3

2

Dundee City

M

H

VL

L

L

3

3

Perth and Kinross

M

M

L

L

L

3

3

Na h-Eileanan Siar

VL

VL

VL

L

L

1

1

*Ordered by health board

VL = very low, L = low, OC = of concern M = moderate, H = high, VH = very high

Summary of reasons for change in allocation of level

The following table sets out summary information only. Further data is contained in the supporting analytical paper. Broader information, including at the local level by the National Incident Management Team, has also been considered in reaching these allocation decisions.

Local authority

level

Summary of reasons for decision

Aberdeen City

2

  • case numbers are not consistently falling
  • recent outbreaks in the area managed locally
  • urgent work to be undertaken with local authority to understand underlying causes better
  • this will continue to be monitored closely
  • allocation unchanged

Aberdeenshire

2

  • no consistent progress over last week
  • recent outbreaks in the area being managed locally
  • urgent work to be undertaken with local authority to understand underlying causes better
  • this will continue to be monitored closely
  • allocation unchanged

Angus

2

  • persistent decline over past 10 days in case numbers, with downward forecast
  • test positivity maintained at moderate
  • consistent with move to level 2 with close monitoring

Argyll and Bute

2

  • sharp rise in case numbers over the past week related to individual outbreaks
  • some increase to test positivity over the past week
  • allocation unchanged although the situation will be monitored closely

City of Edinburgh

3

  • case level low but fluctuating
  • test positivity maintained at moderate without improvement
  • allocation unchanged

Clackmannanshire

3

  • no consistent progress over the last week
  • allocation unchanged

Dumfries and Galloway

1

  • consistently low case numbers and positivity rates over the last week   
  • move to level 1 fully indicated

Dundee City

3

  • increase in case levels over the last week, still at moderate
  • no movement in positivity rates over last week
  • allocation unchanged

East Ayrshire

3

  • case level still moderate with slight decrease
  • test positivity is down over the week to moderate levels
  • consistent with move to Level 3

East Dunbartonshire

3

  • case level still moderate with slight decrease, forecast now very low
  • test positivity fallen slightly over past week
  • consistent with move to Level 3

East Lothian

2

  • some increase in case numbers but these remain low compared to national average
  • test positivity rates slightly down over the week and remain at moderate
  • allocation unchanged

East Renfrewshire

3

  • some improvement in case numbers over the week and forecast now low
  • test positivity unchanged
  • consistent with move to Level 3

Falkirk

2

  • case levels still low, test positivity moderate
  • has maintained consistency despite rates in neighbouring areas
  • consistent with move to level 2

Fife

3

  • case levels still moderate
  • test positivity up slightly
  • allocation unchanged

Glasgow City

3

  • consistent improvements in case numbers and test positivity over the last week
  • consistent with move to Level 3

Highland

1

  • cases and test positivity continue to decline
  • allocation unchanged

Inverclyde

2

  • reductions to both case numbers and test positivity to levels consistent with a lower level
  • to move to level 2

Midlothian

3

  • some increase to both case numbers and test positivity over the last week but low case rates overall
  • allocation unchanged

Moray

1

  • cases remain low
  • allocation unchanged

Na h-Eilean Siar

1

  • some increase to case numbers over the past week but from low levels
  • test positivity stable
  • allocation unchanged

North Ayrshire

3

  • no consistent progress over the last week
  • allocation unchanged

North Lanarkshire

3

  • improvements in case numbers over the last week
  • some reduction to test positivity
  • Consistent with move to level 3

Orkney Islands

1

  • numbers continue to be low and will be monitored to see if recent changes to indoor socialising rules have any impact
  • allocation unchanged

Perth and Kinross

3

  • slight reduction in case numbers, overall stable test positivity
  • allocation unchanged

Renfrewshire

3

  • more consistent reduction in case levels from high incidence
  • case forecast remains moderate
  • consistent with move to level 3

Scottish Borders

1

  • decreases in case numbers and test positivity over the last week  
  • consistent with move to Level 1

Shetland Islands

1

  • numbers continue to be low and will be monitored to see if recent changes to indoor socialising rules have any impact
  • allocation unchanged

South Ayrshire

3

  • notable decreases to case numbers
  • test positivity now low
  • consistent with move to Level 3

South Lanarkshire

3

  • case levels decreased to moderate
  • test positivity stable
  • consistent with move to Level 3

Stirling

3

  • large decrease in case numbers over last week
  • test positivity down to moderate
  • consistent with move to Level 3

West Dunbartonshire

3

  • continued decline in case numbers over last week
  • test positivity stable at moderate
  • consistent with move to level 3

West Lothian

3

  • some improvement in case numbers at moderate levels
  • consistent with move to level 3

Evidence paper