Nicola Sturgeon has said it “makes more sense” to review coronavirus restrictions on a weekly basis, after announcing Glasgow will be the only area to remain in Level 3 of Scotland’s measures.
Speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing on Friday, the first minister said authorities are “fairly certain” the increase in cases in the city is being driven by the Indian variant – referred to by Ms Sturgeon as April-02 – with “extensive public health measures” deployed over the past 10 days.
The number of cases per 100,000 people in Glasgow has increased from 71 last week to 122.6 in the seven days to May 18.
East Renfrewshire, which earlier this week had a higher seven-day average rate of cases than Glasgow, will remain in Level 2.
Ms Sturgeon also said improvements in Moray mean it can join the rest of mainland Scotland in Level 2 on Saturday.
Infection levels in Moray, in the north-east of Scotland, are down from 98 cases per 100,000 people last week to 37, with test positivity falling from 2.8% to 1.3%.
Marginal difference between Glasgow and East Renfrewshire
In Level 2, people can hug and meet indoors – subject to restrictions – travel across the UK and overseas, and hospitality venues can open later than in Level 3 and serve alcohol indoors.
Ms Sturgeon said the total number of cases in East Renfrewshire is significantly smaller than in Glasgow, with only 17 on Thursday compared to 166 in the city, and could be traced to “specific household clusters”.
Asked whether Glasgow could face restrictions for a longer period because of the numbers, she said: “The reason I’m not saying we’ll come back in three weeks now is I hope the overall duration of these higher level restrictions in Glasgow will be shorter than was the case earlier this year and at the tail end of last year.
“I think it actually makes more sense to review on a weekly basis, because we don’t want to keep Glasgow in higher level restrictions any longer than is necessary… because of the scale of the public health interventions that we have in deployment right now.
“And in determining where to put travel restrictions we just have to be mindful of people’s travel patterns – people might live in the south side of Glasgow but in the city they don’t necessarily stay in the south side of Glasgow all the time because they work elsewhere and vice versa.”
‘Incredibly welcome news’ for people of Moray
Welcoming the changes in Moray, Chris Littlejohn, NHS Grampian deputy director of public health, said: “I have no doubt this will be incredibly welcome news for the people of Moray.
“Bringing case numbers back down has been a community effort. Public bodies like the NHS and local councils can put in every measure we like, but without community support they will not make the same difference.
“Thank-you to everyone in the area for all that they have done.
“I hope the behaviour we have seen in Moray becomes a habit for people, not just there, but across the Grampian region.”
The April-02 variant is also causing concern in some areas of England, with Ms Sturgeon imposing restrictions against travel from Scotland to three local authority areas south of the border.
Bedford, Bolton and Blackburn and Darwen are the areas affected, with Ms Sturgeon saying Scots must delay any plans to visit those areas.
She added: “We’re not placing legal restrictions on travel to Lancashire or Greater Manchester more widely, or to areas around Bedfordshire.
“But if you’re planning to visit these areas in the next few days, please consider whether you need to make your visit, or whether it can be delayed.”
Giving an update on the daily coronavirus figures, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland recorded 414 new coronavirus cases but no deaths in the past 24 hours.
The death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 7,664.
The daily test positivity rate was 1.9%, up from 1.6% the previous day.
There were 81 people in hospital on Thursday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down two from the previous day, and of these four people were in intensive care, down one from the day before.