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We reported last month that Scotland was introducing a five-level framework of restrictions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that 11 areas are to be moved to level four, the most restricted level, amid continued and significant concerns about the spread of infection.

The areas affected are: City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.

This change will take effect at 18.00 on Friday 20 November and remain in place until 11 December.

On a more positive note, the First Minister said that two areas - East Lothian and Midlothian - will be allowed move down from level 3 to level 2 from 24 November as both seen a 'marked decline' in infection rates.

The remaining 19 council areas will see no change in their status.

Ms Sturgeon said that legislation would be introduced by the time the new changes come into effect to confirm that those living in level three or level four must not travel outside their own council area, except for certain essential purposes.

Furthermore, those living elsewhere in Scotland must not travel to level three or level four areas, again apart from in limited exceptional circumstances, and there is to be no non-essential travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK.

Except for some very limited purposes - such as childcare, caring for someone vulnerable, exercise or shopping for essential goods - people living in level 4 areas should not be out and about over the three-week period, the First Minister insisted. All non-essential retail needs to close, as does hospitality and close contact services like hairdressers and gyms. 

'I know people are frustrated that other restrictions have remained in place longer than planned,' she said. 'But level 4 is intended to be short and sharp. And in this situation, it is specifically intended to have an impact in advance of Christmas and the most challenging winter period.'

Ms Sturgeon concluded that the Government would assess, nearer the time, the level that will apply in each area when the level 4 restrictions end on 11 December.

Businesses in Scotland can continue to make use of the furlough scheme, which has been extended until the end of March 2021.

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