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More than two million people in Scotland are preparing to move to the country’s toughest level of coronavirus restrictions. The level four rules will come into force at 18:00 in 11 council areas, including Glasgow. Non-essential shops will close, as will pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms and visitor attractions – but schools will remain open. The restrictions will remain in place until 11 December. coronavirus

 

They will be accompanied by legally-enforceable travel bans, which could see people fined by the police for travelling in or out of council areas in levels three or four of the country’s tiered system unless it is essential. The move is aimed at driving down “stubbornly and worryingly high” levels of the virus in western and central parts of Scotland which have been worst hit by the pandemic’s second wave.

 

It is hoped that doing so will allow some kind of easing over the Christmas period that would potentially allow families to celebrate together without causing the virus to spiral to dangerous levels in January. The stricter rules will come into force for 2.3 million people across East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, North and South Lanarkshire, East and South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.

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Virus rates in these areas last week ranged from 158 new cases per 100,000 people in West Lothian to 277 in Glasgow – all of which were above the Scotland-wide rate of 140 cases per 100,000. All of the country’s other council areas will remain in their current levels for now, although East Lothian and Midlothian will move from level three to level two from next Tuesday. Opposition parties have criticised the Scottish government for a “lack of clarity” over why some areas – for example Lanarkshire – are being moved to level four despite seeing cases fall in recent weeks.