Levels changes for 16 council areas

Further package of business support to be outlined tomorrow

Ministers to consider whether any changes to hospitality restrictions in each level can be made

PREMISES in west central Scotland which have been closed under level four restrictions since November 20 will be able to open from Saturday 12th December – but will not be able to sell alcohol.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today (8th December) that the 11 local authority areas currently under level four restrictions (Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling, and West Lothian) will move to level three from 6pm on Friday 11th December. Under level three restrictions, hospitality premises are allowed to open indoors and outdoors until 6pm but are not permitted to sell alcohol.

The first minister has made a concession for retail premises forced to close under level four restrictions. They will be able to open at 6am on Friday 11th December. Hospitality was not included in the concession.

Seven of the ten local authority areas currently under level three restrictions (Clackmannanshire, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fife, Midlothian, Perth & Kinross and North Ayrshire) will remain in that level from Friday. Sturgeon said Edinburgh and Midlothian are to remain in level three for now but ministers would consider a move to level two next week.

“The imminence of the Christmas period has had an impact on our thinking,” she said.

“A move to level two in Edinburgh would mean opening up significantly more services in our second-biggest city in the two weeks before Christmas. That move would carry significant risk of increased transmission. And for that reason we want as much assurance as possible that the situation is as stable as possible before making that move. For that reason – and this has been a difficult decision – we have decided not to move Edinburgh to level two this week. But we will consider this again next week for both Edinburgh and Midlothian.”

Inverclyde, Falkirk and Angus will move from level three to level two from 6pm on Friday, joining Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, East Lothian and Argyll & Bute, which will remain at level two. Under level two restrictions, hospitality venues can serve alcohol indoors with a ‘main meal’ and must close at 8pm, while outdoor areas can trade until 10.30pm.

Dumfries & Galloway and Borders are to move to level one from Friday, joining Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles, Moray and Highland. Level one restrictions allow hospitality premises to trade indoors and outdoors until 10.30pm.

Sturgeon said the overall result of today’s weekly review is that 16 local authorities will move to a lower level of restrictions from Friday; the rest will remain at the same level.

“That is good news,” she said.

“It reflects the fact that the number of cases in Scotland has been falling in recent weeks.

“However I know it involves real and continued difficulties for many businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector. I can therefore confirm that the finance secretary will be setting out tomorrow a further package of business support intended to provide additional help over the winter.

“We will also be considering in the next couple of weeks whether any changes to the content of different levels – particularly as they effect hospitality – can safely be made.”