Restrictions are unlikely to be eased in Moray next week due to continued high rates of Covid-19.
The rest of mainland Scotland will move to Level Two of the routemap out of lockdown on Monday.
However, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “highly probable” Moray will stay in Level Three, meaning indoor home visits will remain banned.
It also means pubs cannot serve alcohol indoors and people cannot hug loved ones they don’t live with.
Covid rates – at 94 cases per 100,000 people – are around four times higher in Moray than across Scotland as a whole.
NHS Grampian warned it is dealing with “Uncontrolled, sustained community transmission” of Covid-19
Sturgeon said: “It is against that backdrop, unless the situation was to materially improve over the next few days, it is highly probable that Moray will stay at Level Three for a further period.”
A final decision will be made by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, NHS Grampian warned it was dealing with “uncontrolled, sustained community transmission” of Covid-19 in Moray, with current restrictions failing to contain the spread.
Chief executive Roddy Burns urged locals to “take responsibility for their own actions”.
He said: “We’ve already heard from businesses and the tourism sector in Moray that they’re seeing the impact of us having such high covid case numbers compared to the rest of Scotland.
“We owe it to them, and our NHS colleagues, to take responsibility for our own actions and do as we’re asked.
“Community transmission means we all have the power to stop the spread, we need to step up and accept the responsibility that goes along with it.”
The First Minister said support would be given to businesses in Moray if a decision is made to keep it in Level Three.
Young adults in the area are to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations sooner than expected in a bid to tackle the growing outbreak. NHS Grampian said 18-39-year-olds started to receive appointments at the weekend.
NHS Grampian also had to issue advice rubbishing rumours that the increasing number of positive results in Moray were due to Lateral Flow Devices being tricked by ketchup – or any other condiment.
A NHS Grampian spokesperson said: “Rising case numbers in Moray are not the result of people ‘fooling’ Lateral Flow Devices with tomato ketchup.
“Please set aside the rumours and hearsay. The situation in Moray is real and it is serious.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country