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Live Reporting

BBC Scotland News

All times stated are UK

  1. Covid in Scotland: The headlines

    Here's a reminder of the Covid-19 headlines in Scotland today:

    • Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will all move from level two to level three of the five-tiered system from Friday
    • All of the country's other 29 council areas will remain in their current levels, including Edinburgh - which had been pushing to be downgraded from level three to level two
    • It means that 80% of Scotland's population - about 4.35 million people - across 21 local authorities will be living under the level three rules when the changes come into force
    • All of the levels will be reviewed again next Tuesday as a precaution ahead of the festive period
    Alert levels
    • The first minister will take part in a four-nation call with leaders from around the UK
    • The talks will address whether changes should be made to the planned relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions over Christmas
    • Ms Sturgeon said she thought there was a case for looking at whether to tighten the flexibilities

    That's all from us here on the live page today. Please take care and stay safe.

  2. Linda Bauld: 'I am confident the advice will change'

    Prof Linda Bauld

    Public health expert Prof Linda Bauld tells John Beattie she thinks the four nation meeting Michael Gove is hosting this evening will be "interesting".

    She says she is relatively confident that Nicola Sturgeon may change the messaging on Christmas.

    Quote Message: The Scottish government has already said it would change advice without the four nations approach. I hear similar things from Wales. I sense a change. Look at Europe. The Netherlands, hard lockdown now, a slight easing over three days, up to three guests for Christmas. In Germany a maximum of four people over a couple of days. That may be what happens here. from Prof Linda Bauld Public health expert
    Prof Linda BauldPublic health expert
  3. Here's reaction from the City of Edinburgh Council leader...

    Edinburgh

    Edinburgh and Midlothian are to remain in level three despite pushing for them to be downgraded from level three to level two.

    In reaction to this news the City of Edinburgh council leader Adam McVey said: “The latest increased figures again show how fast-changing the situation is and it’s essential that we stick to the rules to keep one another safe.

    "The latest review will cause additional concern for businesses struggling with these extremely challenging circumstances and we’ll continue to fight for additional to support to help protect jobs in our communities.

    “It’s thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of residents and businesses across the city that we saw our cases fall and stabilise.

    “We need to do everything we can over the festive period to keep infections at bay and again get numbers falling. That means following the guidance, maintaining social distancing and washing hands and using sanitiser regularly, and of course, taking extra care during Christmas too.”

  4. Nine cases of new Covid strain reported in Scotland

    Covid-19

    Nine cases of a new variant of Covid-19 first identified in England have been reported in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

    The cases were all detected in the Greater Glasgow area, and date back to the end of November.

    The World Health Organisation has been notified about the new strain of the virus, with detailed studies ongoing.

    Ms Sturgeon said there is nothing to suggest it causes a more severe illness in people, but it may spread faster.

    She said people should not "prematurely overreact" to the development.

  5. Aberdeen council co-leader: 'I'm gutted for the hospitality sector'

    Drivetime with John Beattie

    BBC Radio Scotland

    Tory councillor Douglas Lumsden, the co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, says he is "not too surprised" by the decision to move the area up to level three.

    He says cases have been creeping up gradually in the last month or so but he raises questions over the role of hospitality in the spread of the virus.

    There is no "traceability" back to that sector, he says, and public health officials have been able to give him "no real answers" on the issue.

    Quote Message: I am really gutted for the hospitality and leisure sector in the run-up to Christmas. And fearful for all the jobs that depend on people going into the city centre and spending their cash. I am really worried about what the future holds. from Douglas Lumsden Co-leader, Aberdeen City Council
    Douglas LumsdenCo-leader, Aberdeen City Council
  6. NHS chief: 'Are you honestly taking precautions?'

    NHS Grampian's director of public health Susan Webb has appealed to people to follow guidance on how to limit the spread of Covid-19.

    Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire - the two local authorities in the health board's area - are to move up from level two to three from Friday due to rising cases.

    Ms Webb said the virus was "circulating widely" and it was being spread in town and village communities.

    She said: "I am asking everyone in the north east of Scotland to ask themselves if they are taking the same level of precautions that they were back in April and May."

    Aberdeen
    Image caption: Aberdeen along with Aberdeenshire are to move up to level three on Friday
  7. Tougher virus restrictions for three council areas

    Aberdeen has seen a sharp rise in cases over the past week
    Image caption: Aberdeen has seen a sharp rise in cases over the past week

    Three Scottish council areas are to have tougher coronavirus restrictions imposed from Friday in a bid to reverse rising numbers of cases.

    Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will all move from level two to level three of the five-tiered system.

    It means people will no longer be allowed to travel outside their own council area unless it is essential.

    Pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to stop serving alcohol and must shut at 18:00.

    And indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades will also have to close.

    All of the country's other 29 council areas will remain in their current levels, including Edinburgh - which had been pushing to be downgraded from level three to level two.

    It means that 80% of Scotland's population - about 4.35 million people - across 21 local authorities will be living under the level three rules when the changes come into force.

  8. East Lothian Council 'disappointed' at move to level three

    Levels poster

    East Lothian Council says it is "disappointed" the area is moving back into Covid protection level three from Friday.

    Depute Leader Norman Hampshire said: "It is very disappointing news for the residents and businesses of East Lothian but sadly understandable due to the high infection rates in the county.''

    He added: ''In recent weeks East Lothian has gone from the lowest transmission rates in the Lothians to one of the highest and placing the county into level three aims to tackle and reduce further infection rates.”

    He is urging locals not to lower their guard and continue to follow the advice to help prevent the spread of infection.

  9. Review of Covid restriction levels: The headlines

    • Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will all move from level two to level three of the five-tiered system from Friday
    • All of the country's other 29 council areas will remain in their current levels, including Edinburgh - which had been pushing to be downgraded from level three to level two
    • It means that 80% of Scotland's population - about 4.35 million people - across 21 local authorities will be living under the level three rules when the changes come into force
    View more on twitter
    • All of the levels will be reviewed again next Tuesday as a precaution ahead of the festive period
    • The first minister will take part in a four-nation call with leaders from around the UK
    • The talks will address whether changes should be made to the planned relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions over Christmas
  10. 'Heartbroken' at Level 3 decision

    View more on twitter

    Stuart McPhee, who runs Siberia Bar and Hotel in Aberdeen, simply tweeted an emoji after the Level 3 announcement.

  11. Coming up on Drivetime...

    Drivetime with John Beattie

    BBC Radio Scotland

    As Drivetime is about to go on air, the UK government is holding a meeting with the heads of the UK's four nations.

    The first minister has just said there is a case for tightening restrictions over Christmas, perhaps in terms of the duration of the Christmas break or the numbers of people allowed to meet.

    Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she is not going into this afternoon’s meeting with a fixed view and wants to retain a four-nation approach if possible.

    This comes after two respected health journals called for the Christmas relaxations to be toughed up....so could a Christmas reversal be on the cards?

    Drivetime will have all the latest on that, as well as on the fast-spreading mutation of the virus and of course the changes to Scotland's Covid-19 restriction levels.

  12. Sturgeon: 'It's simple - cut interactions to stop the spread'

    Willie Rennie

    Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie says there is an absence of information on other drivers and sources of the spread of the virus outside of care homes. He asks what more the first minister can tell people so that they are aware of the current threats.

    Ms Sturgeon says she can give all the scientific data she can find, but there are moments when we have to accept the situation is not complicated.

    nicola sturgeon
    Quote Message: This virus spreads when people come together and give it the opportunity to spread. This will happen in pubs and restaurants, in people's own homes. It will happen if we allow it into in care homes and hospitals and it will happen in all sorts of settings. We have to cut out the interactions that we don't have to have. from Nicola Sturgeon First minister
    Nicola SturgeonFirst minister
  13. FM says it is right to consider strengthening Christmas restrictions

    Patrick Harvie

    Patrick Harvie says the governments of the four nations of the UK did not wait to see if restrictions they had imposed were successful.

    The Scottish Green Party co-leader says, instead, they committed in advance to the Christmas relaxations.

    This is a decision the editors of the Health Service Journal (HSJ) and British Medical Journal (BMJ) today have said was rash and will cost many lives, continues Mr Harvie.

    He asks if it is not clear they are right. Mr Harvie also questions what position the first minister will advocate in the four-nation call about Christmas this afternoon.

    The first minister says she does not think the four nations' decision on Christmas was rash, rather "it was carefully considered, agonised over".

    Christmas restrictions

    Ms Sturgeon points out it is right, due to the rise in cases and the new variant, that new measures and precautions must be considered during this afternoon's call.

    "I'm not going into it with a fixed view," says Ms Sturgeon, but she adds that she thinks there is a case for looking at tightening the flexibilities for Christmas further.

    The first minister says she would prefer if the four nations could come together on this and pledges to update parliament as soon as a decision is taken.

  14. People in areas of deprivation will not get vaccine priority

    Richard Leonard

    Labour's Scottish leader Richard Leonard brings up research in The Lancet saying that people in the poorest areas are more likely to be severely ill with and die from Covid-19 than those in wealthier areas.

    He asks if the Scottish government is taking seriously the unequal impact on those living in the deepest poverty. He also asks if higher vaccine priority will be given to people in the areas of greatest deprivation.

    deprived area

    Ms Sturgeon says she is aware of the research, and of the disproportionate impact of the virus on those in deprived areas. She says what is not understood are the reasons for that. The first minister says right from the start of the pandemic she has had to factor this into responses, in particular financially, and that she takes this very seriously.

    On the vaccine, Ms Sturgeon says the government does not decide who gets the vaccine and when. This comes from the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation who put forward an order of priority.

  15. Sturgeon: 'Don't prematurely overreact to the new variant'

    coronavirus

    Secondly, Ms Davidson asks about the new variant strain of the virus and says it will be of "great concern" to a number of people - especially when we can see light at the end of the tunnel. She asks if the first minister can go beyond her statement and update parliament on the virulence of the strain, rate of transmission and any changes in severity of symptoms.

    Ms Sturgeon says we should take the news of the new variant strain seriously, but that none of us should "prematurely overreact". She says that, so far, there have been nine cases of the new variant in Scotland, dating back to the end of November and early December. Researchers are looking into any links or relevant factors.

    Quote Message: There is nothing to suggest this new variant results in more severe illness. There has been a suggestion the variant may transmit more effectively and more quickly than existing variants, but that is not yet certain. It may be that it has been identified in parts of the country where the virus is already spreading more quickly. from Nicola Sturgeon First minister
    Nicola SturgeonFirst minister
  16. What if elderly people cannot consent to the vaccine?

    Ruth Davidson

    Ruth Davidson is first up to ask questions for the Scottish Conservatives.

    She asks about plans for vaccine delivery and says she hopes to see further details before Christmas.

    Ms Davidson asks the FM to outline, where a resident is not able to or does not have the capacity to consent to the vaccine, what processes are in place to ensure it can be delivered without undue delay.

    The first minister replies by saying that for vulnerable people in care homes and other settings who cannot consent to the vaccine, the normal power of attorney in adults with incapacity arrangements will apply.

    She says she will update MSPs on this information, so that the can distribute it to constituents. Ms Sturgeon adds that these issues are taken into account every year with the flu vaccine and so processes are in place.

  17. Stick to the rules and guidelines, concludes Sturgeon

    As ever, the first minister calls on the public to "stick to the current rules and guidelines".

    You can check them all here:

    1. Scottish government: Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you can and cannot do

    2. Postcode checker for COVID restrictions by protection level in areas of Scotland

    3. NHS Inform

    The latest from NHS Scotland and the Scottish government, including social distancing, face covering and stay at home advice

    FACTS

    The first minister concludes her statement saying: "This year has been unremittingly horrible for everyone, but it has nevertheless reminded us what matters most - health, family, community and love.

    "So let’s hold on to all of that - and a determination to keep each other as safe as possible as we prepare to celebrate this very difficult and very different Christmas."

  18. FM urges the public to exercise 'utmost caution'

    family facetime

    On a positive note, the first minister says: "Vaccination undoubtedly holds out a genuine hope for a return to something like normality in the not too distant future.

    "But that point is not quite here yet."

    The first minister urges the "utmost caution" for now.

    "If you can avoid mixing with other households over Christmas, especially indoors, please do."

    For those who feel it is essential to do so, she calls for a reduction of unnecessary contacts in the run up to Christmas.

    Ms Sturgeon insists: "This year, there is no doubt that the best gift we can give to our family and friends, if at all possible, is to keep our distance, meet outdoors if at all, and keep each other safe."