Moray is very likely to stay in Level 3 as the mainland moves down to Level 2 on Monday 17 May, according to the First Minister. Islands will move to Level 1.
Nicola Sturgeon announced today (11 May) that the final decision will be made on Friday, but that it was ‘highly probably’ that Moray would stay in Level 3 for a further period given the widespread community transmission currently being experienced.
She said that unless the situation materially improves, it would not be safe or sensible to allow the county the same freedom as the rest of Scotland.
Cases within Moray are sitting at 94 per 100,000 population which is about four times the number across Scotland.
The First Minister added that she would do everything she could to make the extended period as short as possible and that businesses that have to remain closed will continue to receive financial assistance.
She also said that travel in and out of the county would be for permitted purposes only.
Moray MP Douglas Ross said that the news was disappointing but not unexpected.
He said: “The massive increase in covid cases continues to be a cause of real concern and we must do everything possible to get on top of the community transmission.
“It will be difficult for individuals and families here in Moray to see the rest of Scotland benefit from an easing in the current restrictions but if we all work together then we can hopefully see cases drop and be brought under control which will allow us to move forward.
“It will also be absolutely crucial for businesses here in Moray that were preparing to reopen to get all the financial support and assistance they need. I will do everything I can to assist those who will be affected by the additional time we have to operate in Level 3 restrictions.
“However, there are small signs for optimism as cases may be beginning to stabilise and there has been a massive effort to increase the vaccination rollout here in Moray.
“I’d urge everyone to follow the current guidance, get regularly tested and go for their vaccine when it’s offered to them.”
MSP Richard Lochhead said: “I appreciate that the announcement will not be the one many families, who were looking forward to meeting up indoors, and also businesses in Moray will have been hoping for. However, given that Moray’s cases are four times the national average few people will be surprised that we may have to wait a bit longer for the restrictions to be further eased.
“It is of course disappointing especially after we’d done so well for so long and after all the sacrifices people have made over the last year, but the focus now must be on getting through this as quickly as possible so we can join the rest of the country in Level 2.
“I welcome the substantial efforts being made to contain the situation, including the roll out of additional and expanded testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic people, as well as the acceleration of vaccinations for those over the age of 18.
“I would encourage people to take advantage of all that and to follow the public health guidance. I want to thank the staff involved in these efforts who are working flat out to help get case numbers down in Moray.
“Finally, I’m acutely aware of the fact that some businesses in Moray will be impacted should we remain in level three next week. The impact on the local economy is something that I’ve raised with the Scottish Government and I welcome the fact that funds have been set aside for business support should we remain in Level 3.”
Further information on what we can do in the different levels is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/