// Level 4 lockdown restrictions to be imposed in 11 local council areas, including Glasgow, across Scotland from Friday
// This is the highest level of restrictions in Scotland, which means these areas will be lockdown
// All non-essential shops, along with pubs, gyms and restaurants must close for three weeks
Scotland’s toughest coronavirus restrictions are to be imposed on 11 council areas from Friday, forcing non-essential shops to close for three weeks.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday confirmed that Level 4 restrictions will be imposed in Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.
The measures, which come into force from 6pm on Friday, will run until December 11.
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The move to Level 4 means as well as non-essential shops, bars, pubs and restaurants will have to temporarily close – though takeaways will be permitted – along with visitor attractions, hairdressers and gyms. Schools can remain open.
Sturgeon said their move to Level 4 was “unpalatable but necessary”, adding that it would help protect the NHS and could give people the chance of some respite at Christmas.
Businesses that have to shut will be eligible for grants, with Sturgeon announcing the Scottish Government will establish a £30 million discretionary fund so councils can “provide additional support for businesses where they consider that necessary or justified”.
A further £15 million go to helping newly self-employed people, with the same amount again going to local authorities to help with the “community and social impact of a move to Level 4”, the First Minister added.
However, retailers branded the move to place 11 affected local authority areas under lockdown as a “hammer blow” to Scotland’s hard-pressed sector.
It comes as sales for the retail sector in Scotland slipped to the weakest performance since the first UK-wide lockdown ended in June.
According to the latest figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), overall retail sales were down 8.5 per cent last month compared to October 2019 when they had decreased by just 0.4 per cent.
“The recent gradual improvement in retail sales went into reverse in October, slipping to the weakest performance since the ending of the lockdown in June, as greater Covid restrictions and economic uncertainty exerted a vice-like grip,” SRC director David Lonsdale said.
“Retail sales in Scotland have still to emerge from the pandemic-induced funk after eight months, deeply concerning at what is for many stores the start of the all-important festive period.
“We are now in the all-important festive trading period, when some retailers traditionally make the majority of their annual revenues or at least enough to tide them over the lean winter period.
“Businesses which were perfectly healthy at the start of the year are now struggling with circumstances beyond their control, and the fight for survival couldn’t be more intense for some.
“Further forced store closures due to any local lockdowns during the coming weeks could be the final straw for some retailers.”
Sturgeon also confirmed that East Lothian and Midlothian will move from Level 3 down to Level 2 from next Tuesday. There are no changes to the remaining 19 council areas.
Meanwhile, a ban on people in Level 3 and Level 4 areas travelling outside of their council boundaries for non-essential purpose will come into law on Friday.
People living elsewhere in Scotland must also not travel to level three or level four areas, except for essential purposes, and there must be no non-essential travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK.
The move in Scotland comes as England enters the second week of its four-week lockdown, stores in Wales just recently exited its own 17-day lockdown and shops Northern Ireland have been able to reopen.
with PA Wires