It is not inevitable that parts of central Scotland will face tougher coronavirus restrictions this week, the Deputy First Minister has said.
John Swinney made the comments as the latest Scottish Government figures show 1,159 new cases of the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours.
This included 459 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and 226 in Lanarkshire.
Both areas are currently in Level 3 of coronavirus restrictions, but Mr Swinney said on Friday they could move up to Level 4 – the highest tier – after a review of measures on Tuesday.
Such a decision would see non-essential shops forced to shut, with bars, restaurants, gyms, hairdressers and visitor attractions also barred from opening – although schools would stay open
But speaking on the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme on Sunday, Swinney said this was “not inevitable”.
“We are looking very carefully at all the data and having dialogue and discussions with local authorities,” he said.
He added that there is still “too much human interaction going on”.
While he said there is “very little evidence of the virus spreading within schools”, he suggested shopping, hospitality and household visiting could be responsible for the rise in cases.
Asked about the role of a vaccine in halting the pandemic, the Deputy First Minister said Scotland still faces a tricky period ahead.
He said: “People think that maybe the battle is over because the vaccine is coming – well the battle is not over, believe you me, we’ve got a really tough period ahead of us, which is why we are looking at difficult decisions about level 4.”
The latest statistics on the virus show there are 1,241 people in hospital with Covid-19 and 100 patients in intensive care.
No new deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours and the death toll remains at 3,280, though figures from the National Records of Scotland suggest the true figure is 4,856.