Nicola Sturgeon considers highest level of Covid-19 restrictions now to help with Christmas

ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith explains the latest from Scotland

Areas of Scotland with "stubbornly high" levels of coronavirus could be placed in Level 4 restrictions immediately to allow for "limited and careful easing" in time for Christmas, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Ms Sturgeon said her Cabinet will make decisions on Tuesday morning about any changes to where councils are in Scotland’s five-tier system of coronavirus measures.

She will then make a statement at Holyrood that afternoon.

Level 4 is the highest under Scotland's tier system and similar to the lockdown currently in place in England, with non-essential shops and hospitality venues shut, however, up to six people from two different households can meet outdoors.

Officials are considering whether current restrictions are reducing Covid-19 rates quickly enough in some areas, “particularly in parts of the west of Scotland that have a stable but still stubbornly high prevalence of the virus", she said.

Nicola Sturgeon expressed concern about areas with 'stubbornly high rates' of the virus. Credit: PA

She said the high rates are causing concern as it means there is not the required level of assurance that regional hospital and intensive care services can cope as winter progresses.

“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,” she said.

“Moving to Level 4 restrictions for a limited period in some areas, while not a decision we would ever take lightly because of the wider economic and social impact, would help us to address both of these concerns."

Any Level 4 restrictions placed on local authorities are intended to be for a “short time”, she added.

She said it is her “objective and intention” to ensure schools remain open.

Ms Sturgeon added: “We don’t take lightly issues of school safety.”

The First Minister said she has asked adults to bear more of the restrictions to ensure schools are able to remain open for face-to-face teaching.

She added: “Young people have had months out of school already this year and if we can at all avoid it we want to ensure that they don’t have further time out of normal full-time schooling.”

The end is not quite with us but we can see hope on the horizon now that we couldn’t see just a few weeks ago

Nicola Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon also revealed one local authority will have reduced restrictions in Tuesday’s announcement.

Officials will announce new restrictions on Tuesday. Credit: PA

The SNP leader urged people to adhere to local measures, saying: “Every time we stop someone, especially someone who is older and more vulnerable, then we give them a chance of living into the era – which is firmly on the horizon – where better therapies, vaccines, testing and treatments will be available.

“I think that motivation as we are living under these restrictions right now is important to bear in mind.

“The end is not quite with us but we can see hope on the horizon now that we couldn’t see just a few weeks ago.”

Ms Sturgeon also revealed that Scotland recorded six more deaths and 717 positive cases in the last 24 hours.

She said the number of positive cases in the past 24 hours is lower than expected and is being examined.

The daily test positivity rate is 8.3%, up from 7.2% on Sunday, and of the new cases, 220 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 136 in Lanarkshire, and 101 in Lothian.

There are 1,227 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, a fall of 14 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, 98 are in intensive care, down by two.

The death toll of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days is now 3,286.