North and South Lanarkshire are the only two areas being considered for level four of the Scottish Government’s new Covid-19 restrictions, according to a leaked report.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) documents also suggest that most of the country, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, is set for “tier three” of the new measures, meaning a continuation of current restrictions.
However, while the letter to council leaders states that the situation in Lanarkshire “may be stabilising”, it says the use of level four restrictions ”cannot be ruled out”.
It also says that rising numbers in Dundee is “causing concern”.
The Scottish Government will lay out which areas will be subject to the new coronavirus tier system in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday.
COSLA has written to council leaders, giving them a strong indication of what tier of restrictions their authorities will be subject to.
Level three of the tier system would mean alcohol sales both indoors and outdoors will not be permitted, although some restaurants may be able to open under strict conditions.
Level four is closest of the levels to a full lockdown, similar to the one introduced at the end of March, with non-essential shops being forced to close.
Socialising would not be allowed in people’s homes, but six people from two households could still meet outdoors and there would be no limit on outdoor exercise.
Non-essential travel would be banned and there could be limits on the distance people can travel, as well as guidance to stay at home.
Schools will remain open and some outdoor meeting will be allowed.
The confidential letter reads: “I hope it will be helpful if I set out the approach being taken to these decisions.
“The starting point is the measures currently in place. These are broadly equivalent to Level 3 in the central belt, and Level 2 elsewhere.
“Changes from these levels, whether up or down, need to be justified by the data, supported by public health advice and consistent with the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Framework for Decision-Making.
“Because of the severity of the impact of the measures in the highest level, Level 4, Ministers will only consider using it if necessary.
“The data currently indicate that level of concern for two areas: Level 4 is being considered for North and South Lanarkshire.
“There are, however, some signs in the latest data that the situation in those areas may be stabilising.
“Ministers will not reach a decision for these two areas until the latest possible point to ensure that they can take account of the fullest possible picture of the effect of measures already in place; but at this stage the use of Level 4 cannot be ruled out.
“If it was necessary, it would be used to avoid still greater harm, including many deaths.
“No changes are currently being considered in relation to other central belt areas. If that remains the case and is confirmed later this week, these areas would remain in Level 3 for the time being.
“There are some signs in the data of progress in the east of the central belt area, for example in Edinburgh and East Lothian, but some further consolidation of that progress is likely to be required before it would be safe, on public health grounds, to move them to Level 2.
“The data for Dundee City also gives cause for concern, with rising numbers of cases.
“Again, a final decision will be made on the basis of data becoming available in the next few days.
“Meantime, consideration is being given to moving Dundee City to Level 3 in the new framework, broadly equivalent to the measures currently in place in the central belt.
“Further consideration is also being given to the interaction between Dundee and neighbouring areas within the Tayside Health Board area.
“At this crucial stage in suppressing the virus, with higher case numbers, the winter approaching, and the introduction of a new strategic framework, the public health advice to Ministers is that it would not be safe to move any area straight to the lowest level, Level 0.”
By Local Democracy Reporter Joseph Anderson.