A move to a level-four lockdown in the west of Scotland is being considered “closely”.
The toughest coronavirus restrictions could be announced for council areas in the Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire health boards on Tuesday.
Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants would have to close on Friday in any areas put into level four of the Covid alert system.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move may be necessary to ease the pressure on hospitals over the winter and could allow a “limited” lifting of restrictions over Christmas.
Of the 717 new cases recorded in Scotland on Monday, 220 were in Greater Glasgow and 136 in Lanarkshire.
Sturgeon said: “These areas have stable but still stubbornly high prevalence of the virus. Stubbornly high prevalence causes us concern for a number of reasons.
“Firstly it means that we don’t have enough assurance or as much assurance as we’d want to have that our hospital and intensive care services are able to cope as we go deeper into the winter.
“We know that the winter always brings additional pressures on the NHS and ensuring it can cope with those pressures, as well as Covid, is absolutely crucial.
“That’s why regional hospital and intensive care capacity are important factors in our decision making when we consider what level of restrictions will be assigned to each area.
“The second reason I want to highlight is this one, stubbornly high prevalence means that we might have less flexibility to offer some limited and careful easing of restrictions over the Christmas period, which we are very keen to do and I’m sure all of you are very keen for us to do as well.
“Moving to level four restrictions for a limited period in some areas, while not a decision we’ll ever take lightly because of the wider economic and social impact, would help us to address both of these concerns.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie believes if a significant number of local authorities are to move to level four restrictions, a parliamentary debate should happen first.
He said: “If half the population of the country is to be moved to level four we must have a full parliamentary debate and vote first.
“Level four is the equivalent of a lockdown with the closure of most of the High Street.
“It is therefore only right that if such a major change is to be implemented it must have the explicit support of the Scottish Parliament.”