Tighter restrictions have been placed on three Scottish council areas in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus.
Fife, Perth and Kinross and Angus will move from level two to level three of Scotland’s new Covid alert system from Friday, which means pubs and restaurants can no longer serve alcohol.
No other local authority areas have had their current restrictions changed, however some have seen a “sharp rise” in cases and will be closely monitored.
Others, such as Edinburgh, may be able to move down a level soon, the First Minister said.
One tweak announced was that a maximum of six people from two households meeting indoors will be allowed in the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, which remain in level one.
The five-stage Covid alert system came into force on November 2, ranging from level zero where life is closest to normal, to level four, which is close to a full lockdown. No areas are currently ranked in the bottom or top tiers.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted data justified the decision to move three council areas up a level, and said she understood businesses affected by the restrictions would be disappointed.
She said: “The most recent data shows that, in the space of a week, the seven-day number of cases per 100,000 of the population has increased in Perth and Kinross by 32%, in Fife by 40%, and in Angus by 47%.
“The advice of the chief medical officer and national clinical director is that level-two restrictions may not be sufficient to slow down and reverse increases of this magnitude and, as a result, an early move to level-three was strongly recommended.
“I know this will be disappointing to residents and businesses in these areas. However, by acting now, we can hopefully prevent an even more serious deterioration in the situation in the future.”
Sturgeon said placing most council areas in level three had worked “very effectively” to slow the number of infections.
But she warned that some areas, such as Inverclyde and Stirling and, to a lesser extent, South Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, were seeing a “sharp rise” in cases.
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