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It has been confirmed that as of Monday, Lochaber and the rest of Highland region, together with the Western Isles, will be in tier one of the new Covid-19 restrictions introduced by the Scottish Government.
The assessment of what level of protection should be applied to each local authority was confirmed today (Thursday).
Most local authorities will be under tier three measures (19 out of 32), with eight in tier two and five – including Highland – in tier one.
The new tier system is broadly based on an analysis of five key indicators:
*number of positive COVID-19 cases per hundred thousand people over the last week
*percentage of positive tests
*forecast for new cases in the weeks ahead
*capacity of local hospitals
*capacity of local intensive care facilities
These factors are assessed alongside the advice and recommendations of local public health officials, National Incident Management Team, the Scottish Government’s chief clinical and policy advisors, and consideration of local circumstances, such as: specific COVID-19 outbreaks; travel and work patterns; and the extent to which health services are provided by neighbouring health boards. Final decisions are based on all of these factors.
Alongside a table setting out the levels, a detailed analysis paper has also been published setting out the Scottish Government’s assessment and overall decision for each local authority.
Level One comprises Highland, Western Isles, Moray, Orkney and Shetland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘Here in Scotland and across the UK, we have been dealing with the same pattern of Covid-19 resurgence as experienced right around the world. Europe is now firmly in the grip of a second wave and only last night both France and Germany re-imposed nationwide lockdowns.
‘In Scotland, we acted early – with some difficult but necessary measures – and while we have no grounds for complacency we do see some encouraging signs – in the last week, cases have increased by four percent whereas two weeks ago the weekly increase was 40 percent.
‘All of that is down to the sacrifices of people the length and breadth of the country, and I thank people for that. But this virus is still highly infectious and it will take every opportunity to spread. If we all dig in and stick with it, this proportionate approach has a real chance of being sustainable and keeping Covid under control over the winter.
‘If we succeed, we open the prospect – in all parts of the country – of being able to lead lives which are substantially closer to normal in the weeks and months to come.’
The news has been welcomed by constituency MSP Kate Forbes. Though meeting inside homes in the north of Scotland is prohibited at this point, Ms Forbes said she was hopeful if the guidance continues to be followed ‘that may be revisited’.
‘After three weeks of additional restrictions, I’m sure there will be some relief that the sacrifices of many people in the Highlands and Islands mean we can now move to level one,’ said Ms Forbes.
‘There are still some restrictions, based on the advice of the clinicians and scientists, not to ease up on indoor household gatherings but I hope that in time if we comply and see the figures decrease that may be revisited.
‘These are tough and challenging times, as we see many harms inflicted on the economy, on health and on wider society.’