Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Moray is to be moved to level two of Covid restrictions – but Glasgow will remain in level three.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Friday, the First Minister said that she hopes that Glasgow will not be in level three for much longer.
She also said that East Renfrewshire would stay at level two, but urged caution for people meeting indoors and to think carefully if they need to travel, while explaining that many of the cases reported in the area can be traced to specific household clusters.
Sturgeon was joined by newly-appointed health secretary Humza Yousaf, as well as national clinical director Jason Leitch.
The total number of positive cases reported on Thursday was 414 – 212 of which were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, with 62 in Lanarkshire and 48 in Lothian, the First Minister explained.
Sturgeon said that currently, 81 people are in hospital – two fewer than on Thursday – whilst four people are in intensive care – one less than Thursday. No deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours.
It was announced last Friday that Glasgow and Moray would remain in level three, while the rest of Scotland moved to level two.
Earlier this week, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed that Covid vaccination appointments would be made available for people aged between 18 and 39 and living in the affected areas of the city.
At the briefing, Sturgeon said: “We are taking consistent decisions, even if sometimes it perhaps might not look like that, because we are looking at the very detailed picture in each area and trying to be as proportionate as we possibly can be.”
The First Minister also announced some changes to travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Noting a variant of concern in three local authority areas in England – Bedford, Bolton, and Blackburn and Darwen – she said that from Monday onwards, travel restrictions will be imposed on travel between Scotland and those areas.
She said: “If you were planning to visit friends or relatives or to stay in those areas – Bedford, Bolton, and Blackburn and Darwen – you must delay your visit.
“We’re not placing legal restrictions on travel to Lancashire or Greater Manchester more widely, or to areas around Bedfordshire, but if you are planning to visit these areas in the next few days, please consider whether you need to make your visit or whether it can be delayed.”
Sturgeon also urged football fans to enjoy the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday safely, warning against large gatherings.
She said: “Tomorrow will of course be a big day for both St Johnstone and Hibs fans, and I know that fans and indeed others will be wanting to watch the game.
“However, please don’t gather in big groups in people’s houses or in hospitality venues to watch the game, that is still against public health rules and is not safe in the current situation we face.
“And for supporters of the winning team in particular, and may the best team win, but for the winning team in particular, remember that no-one including fans should be congregating anywhere in large numbers at the moment.
“So, please enjoy the game, celebrate if your team wins, but for your own sake, and for the safety of others, please do so safely and that is something that I urge on every football fan watching the game tomorrow.”
Sturgeon indicated that there are not currently any signs that the April-02 variant (referred to previously as the Indian variant) causes more severe illness than other variants.
She said: “We’ve always known that there would be bumps in the road and what we’re experiencing now is one of those bumps in the road.
“The presence of the April-02 variant in some communities is undoubtedly a set-back. We know, or at least we’re fairly certain, that it is more transmissible than the Kent variant we had previously been dealing with.
“But, the upside, and I want to stress this as well, at the moment we don’t see any sign that it causes more severe illness than other variants and we believe that the vaccines still work against it.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said that the Government is moving too slowly in easing restrictions nationally.
“We cannot treat people’s livelihoods and wider health concerns as secondary, now that there is no risk of our NHS being overwhelmed at this time,” he said.
“The SNP Government are moving too slowly in safely easing restrictions nationally where the virus is under control, and they must move faster with more targeted resources in the areas where it is not currently under control.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called for a mass roll-out of PCR testing.
He said: “This is clearly disappointing news for Glasgow, and as someone that lives in the spike area and who has seen the impact of that I know all too well about the challenges we face in the city.
“It will be devastating news for businesses, employers and employees that restrictions have been extended. The best way to confront the challenge is to make sure we are seeing what happened in Moray happen in Glasgow.
“So, let’s have a mass roll-out of PCR testing and rapidly accessible vaccinations so that we can bring the case load down and have a consistency across the country.”
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie added: “While the people of Glasgow understand the need to remain on a cautious course there is no doubt that the continued level three restrictions are causing stress and dismay.
“It’s vital that government expands support for workers and businesses in the city who can’t even plan from one week to the next at the moment.”
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