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Sturgeon to announce five-tier plan of coronavirus measures for Scotland

Andrew Milligan

By Douglas Barrie, PA Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon will on Friday announce a five-tier plan of measures for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland.

The new set of restrictions has been anticipated since a similar three-tiered system was introduced in England by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

If approved at Holyrood next week, the new measures will come into force in Scotland on Monday November 2.

The Scottish First Minister will discuss the tiered system at her daily coronavirus briefing on Friday afternoon as well as plans to increase testing capacity north of the border.

Speaking ahead of the briefing she said: “Covid-19 continues to have a devastating impact on all of our lives.

“Therefore it is vital now more than ever that we work determinedly, energetically and collaboratively to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level – and keep it there – while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible.

“But suppressing the virus has to be a collective effort. We need to stick with it, support each other and learn from each other. The Scottish Government will undertake a period of detailed and intensive consultation and engagement with key partners on the draft levels we have set out, to seek a collective effort and agreement on the way forward.

“The more we all do in this moment to follow the rules and drive down the numbers, the more freedoms we can enjoy.”

Ms Sturgeon has already said the three middle tiers will be broadly similar to the English system, where areas are classed as either “medium”, “high” or “very high” risk.

There will also be a lower level in Scotland for areas with fewer Covid-19 cases – which national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch suggested would have “slightly more freedoms than other parts of the country”.

And he said areas in the highest tier would be under a “fuller” lockdown, but added schools would remain “as open as possible”.

Earlier this month, temporary restrictions were brought in across Scotland and, although initially set to end on October 25, these were extended until the new tiered system comes into effect.

Since October 9, bars and licensed restaurants in five health board areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley – have been forced to close for all but takeaways.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes elsewhere in Scotland are only allowed to serve indoor customers between 6am and 6pm with a ban on alcohol inside, although alcoholic drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.

In a radio interview on Thursday, Prof Leitch said he is hopeful that by sticking to tough restrictions, Scotland could enjoy “some form of normality” over the festive break.

But he also urged the public to prepare for a “digital Christmas” while warning of the unlikelihood of “large family groupings with multiple families” this year.

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