New Covid restrictions sees Scotland hit with a ban on alcohol sales indoors in pubs and restaurants after 6pm while many in the Central Belt are urged not to travel to the Highlands
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Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes across the Highlands will not be permitted to sell alcohol indoors after 6pm on Friday for 16 days.
It is the most decisive curtailment of hospitality since the start of the lockdown in March and comes amid a raft of new measures announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Alcohol can still be served up to 10pm outside but that remains subject to a maximum of six people from two households rule.
After Saturday only food can be served indoors up to 6pm though hotels will be permitted to serve food later but not alcohol.
On top of that the First Minister also revealed that the government is advising against travel to or from five central belt health boards – Greater GLasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley.
In each of those five health boards people are discouraged from moving out of that particular area while all hospitality except hotels must close as they have seen a particular surge in the number of cases.
New regulations on the wearing of face coverings in public places will be strengthened along with more action to strengthen compliance with the current regulations.
Supermarkets and shops will remain open but are encouraged to reintroduce two metre physical distancing and one ways systems that were in place earlier in the pandemic.
Ms Sturgeon underlined that the new measures intended to balance health concerns as well as economic concerns but warned that peak infection rates from the spring could return without action.
“I am acutely aware that in every decision we take lives and jobs are at stake and I want to assure not just the chamber but the country that none of these decisions are taken lightly.
“When I updated parliament over two weeks ago the average number of new cases being reported each was 185, that was up from 102 three weeks previously. Now we are reporting an average of 788 new cases each day.
“In the seven days up to Monday the number of people in hospital with Covid increased by almost 80 per cent and the number of people who died with Covid was the highest for 14 weeks. In fact there was the same number of deaths in the last week alone as in the whole of the previous month.
“The increase in the numbers of people in hospital and sadly dying from Covid sadly reflect the rise we are now seeing in new cases in older age groups.
“We estimate that the current level of new Covid cases is growing by seven per cent each day so without action and this is the starkest warning that without action we are likely to return to the peak level of infection that we saw by the end of this month.”