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Residents from the central belt urged not to travel to the Highlands during October half-term

By Scott Maclennan

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Residents in parts of Scotland worst hit by coronavirus have been urged not to travel to other parts of the country during the half-term holiday.

Part of a bid to prevent further spread of the virus, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did say, however, that those with holidays booked were not expected to cancel them and could still travel.

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.

New regulations on the wearing of face coverings in public places will also be strengthened along with more action to ensure 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.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon underlined that the new measures were intended to balance health concerns as well as economic concerns but warned that peak infection rates from the spring could return without action.

Detailing the updated restrictions earlier this afternoon at Holyrood, she said: “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.”

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