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Coronavirus / Sturgeon confirms government hopes to place isles in ‘level one’ of Covid restrictions

Advice recommends indoor socialising should be off limits for the time being, first minister says

FIRST minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the Scottish Government hopes to place Shetland in level one of a new tiered system of coronavirus restrictions.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, she however said that current advice recommends that this should come with a temporary continuation of the ban on people visiting each other indoors.

The position on this would be reviewed weekly, parliament heard.

Sturgeon confirmed that the government is considering placing Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles, the Highlands and Moray in level one when the tiered system comes into place on Monday. A final decision will be made on Thursday during first minister’s question time.

The current restrictions are effectively level two.

Level one would generally allow people to visit indoors, with a gathering a maximum of six from two households, but Sturgeon said the introduction of this element would be delayed.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur intervened during Sturgeon’s introduction to parliament to state that as winter approaches continuing to prohibit household visits in rural areas could prove problematic.

The first minister said she recognised this and added that it should be a “short-term temporary change”.

She added that in level one restrictions on hospitality will be loosened, but there is likely to be a 10.30pm curfew.

Licensed premises in level two will be allowed to serve alcohol with a meal until 8pm.

Sturgeon also said that a postcode checker will be introduced to allow people to check what restrictions apply to them.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said he had concerns about getting across a clear message when it came to the varying restrictions being imposed around Scotland.

“This is going to take a huge effort to communicate that,” he said.

The strategic framework on the tiers is currently being debated in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, with MSPs set to vote.

Sturgeon said it is expected that confirmation will be given on Thursday as to where each local authority will be placed in the tier system.

Political leader of Shetland Islands Council Steven Coutts said he was expecting direct engagement from the government to understand their proposals.

“If it is to be meaningful engagement and based on local circumstances then the one to one discussion has to take place,” he said.

More information on the proposed tiers can be read online on the Scottish Government website.