Nicola Sturgeon suggests potential for stricter restrictions in urban areas

Stricter or amended restrictions could be introduced by the Scottish Government in an attempt to tackle the stubbornly high prevalence of Covid-19 in urban areas.

Nicola Sturgeon, in response to a question from the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie, said the Scottish Government was analysing the efficacy of the levels system.

She said there was some evidence that some of the restrictions in place were working better in more rural areas than urban areas, and that this was being reviewed by public health experts within the Scottish Government.

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Stricter measures are potentially being considered for urban areas to drive down Covid-19 prevalence.

The First Minister said the “fine details” could change, along with a shift on hospitality rules to provide more freedom for businesses to operate and improve their trading position.

She said: “We think that overall the levels system are reasonably effective, but we will reviewing the fine details of these over the next couple of weeks.

"We think, for example, that there might be a differential effect in the impact of the levels between urban and rural areas and the same level of restrictions may not have the same impact in a urban area as they will in a rural area.

"We are also looking at whether the restrictions on hospitality could be modified in any way to get the same effect while making things easier for hospitality; changing the hours of restriction, allowing alcohol at other times of day.

"We continue to try to suppress this virus in as proportional way as possible because I think everybody accepts that we cannot live indefinitely under the kind of lockdown restrictions we were under earlier this year.”

The concern over the efficacy of the restrictions in cities can be illustrated by the lack of larger urban areas in lower levels.

Other than Aberdeen, no major population centre above 100,000 people is below level three.

The tightening of restrictions in urban areas would likely be done in an attempt to force stable prevalence down, such as in cities like Edinburgh.

The Scottish capital remained in level three following the First Minister’s announcement of changes to the levels affecting each council area.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament, she confirmed all level four areas would drop to level three, with Inverclyde, Angus and Falkirk moving to level two, and the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway moving to level one.

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