Mainland Scotland moves into level four Covid restrictions

First Minister says measures may need to be further strengthened as information emerges on a new strain of coronavirus.

Mainland Scotland moves into level four Covid restrictions Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Mainland Scotland has entered level four restrictions.

The whole of mainland Scotland has moved into level four of coronavirus restrictions – similar to the full lockdown implemented in March.

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants are shut except for takeaways, drive-throughs and deliveries.

Only essential travel is permitted after the restrictions came into effect at one minute past midnight on Boxing Day.

The level four rules – affecting mainland Scotland and Skye – are in place for at least three weeks and the lockdown will be reviewed after a fortnight.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the measures are needed to counter the risk of “exponential growth” of a new, more infectious variant of the virus.

She also said the level four measures may need to be further strengthened as more information on the new strain emerges.

The restrictions mean people should “stay at home as much as possible”, and Sturgeon is giving consideration as to whether this should become law.

Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, along with other island communities off the Scottish mainland, have moved from level one into level three.

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The Christmas holiday has been extended until January 11 for the majority of pupils, although schools will still reopen as scheduled for the most vulnerable and children of key workers.

But teaching will be done online for at least the first week of the new term.

The move comes after scientists on the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NervTag) concluded that the mutant strain identified by Public Health England – known as VUI2020/01 – was spreading more quickly.

Current restrictions mean it is illegal to travel into or out of council areas in level three or level four without a valid exemption.

Police have the power to issue £60 fines to rule-breakers, although these are halved to £30 if paid within 28 days.

Repeat offenders can face penalties of up to £960.

More than 1000 new cases of coronavirus were reported in Scotland yesterday amid the relaxation of measures for Christmas, which were scaled back to Christmas Day only.

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The Scottish Government on Friday reported 1165 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.