Tougher restrictions begin for three Scottish councils

Tougher restrictions begin for three Scottish councils

Thousands of Scots in three council areas are preparing to move into level three restrictions.

From 18:00 GMT, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will all move from level two to level three of the five-tiered system.

The local authority areas will face tougher Covid measures in a bid to reverse rising numbers of cases.

All of the country’s other 29 council areas will remain in their current levels.

This includes Edinburgh, which had been hoping to be downgraded to level two.

The changes were announced at Tuesday’s weekly review of the tier system.

It means people will no longer be allowed to travel outside of their own council area unless it is essential.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to stop serving alcohol and must shut at 18:00.

And indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades will also have to close.

Indoor exercise, including gyms, is restricted to individual and not group exercise.

Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian join the 18 other councils in level three, meaning 80% of Scotland’s population will now be under level three restrictions.

With festive easing on the way next week, the levels will be reviewed again next Tuesday.

Current Covid rules will be relaxed between 23 and 27 December to allow people to travel within the UK and spend Christmas together.

The government said on Wednesday it would toughen its Christmas guidance with people urged not to stay overnight in another house unless necessary.

Ministers have ruled out a law change around the five-day festivities.

But the deputy first minister warned that tougher restrictions – including a potential lockdown – after the festive period cannot be ruled out.

On Thursday, John Swinney said the Scottish government would review Covid levels next Tuesday as part of an unplanned “decision-making moment”.

He said the move reflected the “deteriorating situation” across Scotland and the UK.

Mr Swinney said next week’s review “reflected the changing position that had developed over the last two or three weeks”.

He added: “We’ll have to look at what the forward prospects look like, we’ll have to take decisions that will be sustainable for a period into January and February to protect the public interest and protect the National Health Service.”

Asked specifically if there could be greater restrictions or a possible lockdown, he said: “That could be a possibility, I can’t rule it out.”

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