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FM eases Covid rules amid concern over new levels

Woman shopper looking at masks

More shops will be allowed to open (pic: Terry Murden)

More than two million people living in 11 council areas in Scotland with the toughest Covid restrictions will move down one level from Friday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Overall, half of all Scotland’s local authorities will move down a level.

The changes will allow non-essential retail and hospitality to reopen in these areas, two weeks ahead of Christmas.

But the changes brought more anger and frustration from opposition MSPs and business leaders who said there was no consistency in the changes being made.

Stirling, Edinburgh and West Dunbartonshire are in level 3 even though they have fewer cases of coronavirus than Argyll and Bute which is in level 2.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said: “In reaching decisions today, we have had to consider the potential overall impact of moving to a lower level of restrictions at the same time as the Christmas period begins in earnest.

Nicola Sturgeon: ‘proportionate conclusions’

“That has led us to a proportionate but still cautious set of conclusions.”

The 11 areas moving out of level 4 from 6pm on Friday include Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Dunbartonshire.

Pubs and restaurants in level 3 can only open until 6pm and cannot sell alcohol for consumption on the premises.

However, shops in areas dropping down to level 3 can re-open from 6am on Friday in a move intended to help stores and shopping centres better manage the flow of customers after the period of closure.

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