// Scotland FM Nicola Sturgeon outlines 5-tier plan for dealing with the second wave of Covid
// Levels range from 0 to 4, with 4 seeing non-essential shops obligated to temporarily close down
Non-essential retail in Scotland would be forced to temporarily shut if a proposal featuring localised top-tier restrictions were to be approved and implemented amid the pandemic.
Earlier today, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined a five-tier plan of measures for dealing with the second wave of Covid in the country.
The five levels range from levels 0 to 4, with Level 0 being as close to normal as possible while Level 4 would almost be like the full lockdown earlier this year, with non-essential shops obligated to temporarily close down.
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The new set of restrictions were anticipated since a similar three-tiered system was introduced in England by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
If approved at Holyrood next week, the new five-tier system would come into force in Scotland on November 2.
Sturgeon said the changes were required to help Scotland live with Covid, and could apply to specific council areas or nationwide if necessary.
She said this means areas with lower levels of the virus would not require to be under the same restrictions as areas with higher infection rates.
Schools are expected to be kept open throughout all levels, with necessary safety measures in place, while all hospitality venues, except hotels, and non-essential retail sites would close in Level 4.
Non-essential retailers are exempt from the three-tiered restriction system in England.
Meanwhile in Wales, they will be forced to shut for 17 days as the country enters a “firebreak” lockdown starting tonight.
Scotland recorded 18 coronavirus deaths and 1401 positive cases in the past 24 hours, although Sturgeon said the infection rate appears to be slowing.
She also said Scotland was “not back at square one”, and that the framework was intended to build on the progress made in tackling pandemic.
“Level 0 is broadly comparable to the position we reached in August when the virus was very supressed in Scotland but still a threat,” she said during her Covid briefing today.
“At this level we would be able to meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open, albeit with safety measures in place.
“Level 1 sees slightly more restrictions, household meetings would reduce to six people from two households but there would still be a reasonable degree of normality overall.
“Levels 2 and 3 are intended to apply at times such as now when transmission is higher and rising.
“Level 2 entails restrictions broadly similar to those currently in place just now outside the central belt, so limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people’s homes.
“Level 3 is broadly similar to the tougher restrictions which currently apply across the central belt, with much of hospitality being closed completely.
“There are however some key differences, for example we envisage restaurants being able to be open at least partially in Level 3.”
The Scottish First Minister said levels 2 and 3 would be intended to apply for relatively short periods of time to bring transmission under control.
“Level 4, the highest level, which of course we would not use unless absolutely necessary, would apply when transmission rates are, or are threatening to become, very high with corresponding pressure on the NHS and perhaps the risk of the NHS being overwhelmed,” Sturgeon said.
“The restrictions at Level 4 are closer to a full lockdown, for example non-essential shops would have to close.
“However even under Level 4 restrictions, six people from up two households could still meet outdoors, there would be no limit on outdoor exercise for individuals, and we would seek to keep manufacturing and construction businesses open, albeit with safety measures in place.
“We do not envisage returning to a situation as severe as the first lockdown imposed back in late March.”
Sturgeon added that the restriction levels would be reviewed on a weekly basis.
Earlier this month, temporary restrictions were brought in across Scotland and although they were initially set to end on October 25, these have now been extended until the new tiered system comes into effect.
Since October 9, bars and 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.
with PA Wires