The First Minister has announced three parts of Scotland – Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross – will be upgraded to Level 3 restrictions from Friday. This means 21 of the country’s 32 local authorities are now in this level – the second highest under Scotland’s recently introduced five-tier system. Ms Sturgeon also confirmed the majority of local authorities in the central belt of Scotland – including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee – will remain in Level 3 following a review of coronavirus infection rates across the country.
The First Minister warned there are “still tough times ahead” after Scotland recorded 832 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, with an additional 39 deaths.
She said that while there are some signs of a fall in hospital admissions, she also warned cases in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, West Lothian and West Dunbartonshire have stabilised at a “stubbornly high level”.
The SNP leader also said ministers are concerned about a “sharp rise” in infections in Inverclyde and Stirling and, to a lesser extent, South Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.
She added that while “an immediate move to Level 4 would not be merited”, these areas are still being monitored closely “on a daily basis”.
But the latest announcements from the First Minister have come under attack, with her SNP Government under increasing pressure over their handling of the pandemic and management of the associated restrictions.
Former Labour MP George Galloway, a huge critic of Ms Sturgeon and the SNP’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland, told Express.co.uk: “Nicola Sturgeon continues to pursue her own tiered system, going against UK government messaging and confusing many.
“It is unhelpful and unnecessary. Whilst the threat of the virus is indeed very real and present, one must consider the impact Sturgeon’s half-hearted attempts to control the virus have on mental health and the economies of the communities she purports to represent.
“She should pick up the phone to Number 10 and the other devolved administrations, and put heads together to genuinely tackle this crisis. Together. As one nation.”
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“The data doesn’t lie. She’s lost the plot!”
A third person tweeted: “Her tier systems have been added to her growing list of poor decisions.
“The failure to lock down Glasgow and Lanarkshire now has 80 percent of the country.
“On a day England announced mass testing in all council areas Sturgeon and her band of so-called experts still have no strategy.”
Ms Sturgeon defended the decision to move Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross into Level 3 while addressing MSP in Holyrood earlier on Tuesday.
She said: “The most recent data shows that, in the space of a week, the seven-day number of cases per 100,000 of the population has increased in Perth and Kinross by 32 percent, in Fife by 40 percent and in Angus by 47 percent.
“The advice of the chief medical officer and national clinical director is that Level 2 restrictions may not be sufficient to slow down and reverse increases of this magnitude and, as a result, an early move to Level 3 was strongly recommended.”
The First Minister also warned ministers she will not “shy away” from imposing the toughest Level 4 restrictions if they are deemed necessary, which would require non-essential shops to close, along with bars, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers.
Ms Sturgeon told parliament: “We will not take a decision to move any part of the country to that level lightly.
“But nor will we shy away from it if we think it necessary to limit the damage the virus can do.”