Nicola Sturgeon update: changes to Scotland’s Covid tiers explained after First Minister’s announcement - and latest on Christmas

Scotland’s Central areas will remain in tiers 4 and 3 - while East Lothian moves to tier 2

The First Minister has delivered an update on coronavirus restrictions for each of Scotland’s regions this afternoon.

The weekly briefing was the first since Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that 11 regions would be placed under level 4 restrictions – the strictest of the country’s five tiers of restrictions.

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There were no sweeping changes this week with East Lothian the only region changing tier, moving from level 3 to level 2, with the change in force from today.

Nicola Sturgeon has suggested there will be few if any changes to coronavirus restrictions this Tuesday (Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon has suggested there will be few if any changes to coronavirus restrictions this Tuesday (Getty Images)

On Friday approximately 2.3m people were placed under the rules with the City of Glasgow and much of the Central Belt among the affected areas.

What happened at today’s announcement?

While both Dumfries and Galloway and Argyll and Bute will remain in Level 2 “for now”, Nicola Sturgeon said falling prevalence in these areas could see them moved to Level 1 in the “coming weeks”.

Cases have been rising in both Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City, the First Minister said, but added these were attributed “in a large part” to specific outbreaks which are being managed.

As a result she said there was no need for restrictions there to be increased from the current Level 2 status at the moment.

Meanwhile Clackmannanshire and Perth and Kinross are being monitored carefully “given recent increases in these areas”, Ms Sturgeon said.

And while East Lothian has now moved from Level 3 to Level 2, the First Minister said nearby Midlothian had seen case numbers rise from 61 new cases per 100,000 to just over 97.

Ms Sturgeon said: “A 50% increase in one week is obviously a source of concern.”

As a “precaution” she said Midlothian would remain in Level 3 “for a period”.

When is next Nicola Sturgeon update?

Scotland’s tier restrictions are reviewed on a weekly basis, with Nicola Sturgeon announcing any changes every Tuesday.

The First Minister will next update the Scottish public on December 1.

Previously these announcements have taken place between 2 and 3 pm.

Where can I watch Nicola Sturgeon’s speech?

Ms Sturgeon’s address to MSPs will be broadcast live on BBC Scotland, as well as online on Scottish Parliament TV.

You can also follow along on our dedicated live blog, which will have to the minute information and reaction.

What is the latest on Christmas?

Ms Sturgeon said it was “likely” that extended household bubbles will be allowed over Christmas.

The First Minister said decisions to ease restrictions over the festive period are a “particularly difficult balance to strike” and have split public opinion.

She revealed that discussions between the UK Government and devolved nations had made “progress towards a common position across the UK”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Reducing the prevalence of the virus is also what will allow us to consider a slight and careful – and I want to stress today those words ‘slight’ and ‘careful’ – easing of the rules for a few days over the festive period.”

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon added: “There is an obvious desire to see loved ones at Christmas, I think we all feel that very strongly.

“There’s also a lot of anxiety about the potential risks associated with that, particularly at a time when we’re starting to see, perhaps, the end of this pandemic loom on the horizon.

“So we’re trying as hard as we can to reach a sensible balance, although it is possible – likely, in fact – that some households may be able to form slightly larger bubbles with each other for a short period over Christmas.

“We’re considering this because we recognise that isolation and loneliness can hit people particularly hard over the Christmas period.”

Which areas are under which restrictions?

Level 0 restrictions: No region has been placed under the most lenient level 0 restrictions.

Level 1 restrictions: Highland, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Level 2 restrictions: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, East Lothian, the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, and Argyll & Bute have all been placed under level 2 restrictions.

Level 3 restrictions: Midlothian, The City of Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Dundee, Fife, Perth & Kinross and Angus have all been placed under level 3 restrictions.

Level 4 restrictions: City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian. have all been placed under level 4 restrictions.