Fife, Kinross, Angus, and Perth have all been moved into the level 3 band as the UK faces a potential sustained lockdown for the next few months
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed the “difficult, but very necessary and precautionary decision” to advance Kinross, Perth, Angus, and Fife from level 2 to level 3 restrictions as of Friday November 13.
No area of Scotland has been allocated level 4 status as of yet.
Statistical data illustrates Sturgeon’s case: cases per 100,000 have increased by 40 per cent in just one week in Fife, with a 32 per cent increase in Perth and Kinross. In Angus, cases per 100,000 have increased even more recently, with a 47 per cent increase in just a week.
The First Minister emphasised the precautionary message of the decision, adding that “by acting now, we can hopefully prevent a more serious deterioration in the future.”
In most instances, until a vaccine becomes widely available, the lockdown measures are the only action the Scottish Government can take in a constant game of chasing behind the virus, attempting to halt its spread.
Ms Sturgeon explained that other level 3 areas such as Glasgow, West Lothian, and North and South Lanarkshire have been confronted with cases of COVID that have “stabilised at a stubbornly high level” and was quite adamant that any moves to level 4 restrictions in areas with the worst cases in the future “cannot be ruled out.”
Illustrating other areas of importance, the First Minister showed apprehension for Stirling and Inverclyde, currently also under level 3 restrictions, saying they were of “particular concern,” and to a lesser extent South Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, and East Renfrewshire.
It is still likely Sturgeon may announce a Scotland-wide lockdown, as tiered systems have been criticised for their inefficiency and confusion.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that no area was able to experience a lift or relax in restrictions as a result of “not yet seeing a sustained falling in cases.”
Most local authorities will experience no immediate changes this week, Sturgeon illustrated in her briefing. She added that “careful judgements as well as hard data” are being taken into account.
Addressing the recent vaccination developments by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Ms Sturgeon was able to deliver a slightly more optimistic outlook in her national briefing. “We do still face tough times ahead,” she said, although now “there are grounds for optimism now” as “a glimmer of light has appeared.” The First Minister is, like Prime Minister Johnson, being cautious as the vaccination is in extremely early days of distribution, with most likely to see access in early 2021.
“The sacrifices everyone is making are hard and they feel never-ending. But they are helping. They have made a difference, and they are saving lives. There is no doubt that the restrictions we have put in place have dramatically slowed the spread of the virus,” Sturgeon continued.
“But hospital admissions are still too high. The number of new cases we are seeing – more than 1,000 a day on average – is also too high. And we cannot be sure we are seeing a sustained fall in cases. We want to see a decline in cases. And so we will be monitoring the situation carefully in the days ahead.”
Travel restrictions in Scotland remain constant, and are essential given the multi-tier structure of restriction guidelines. Different rules for different areas has been a compromise to allow people back to work in a desperate bid to save economic face and experience a degree of normalcy, with the most affected areas effectively quarantined, while least affected areas are afforded more freedoms.
Ministers have considered putting the travel restrictions into law in Scotland, but for now they remain only a guideline – an essential one, however.
Nicola Sturgeon encouraged the people of Scotland to abide by these restrictions for their own sake and the sake of others, but illustrated that ministers would formally legislate on the matter if needed. She urged the public to “please abide by them now, so that it doesn’t become necessary.”
Featured image credit: The Herald