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Glasgow is to miss out on a relaxation of lockdown rules elsewhere in Scotland after officials found evidence that the variant linked to a surge in infections in India was driving an upswing in local cases.

Most of Scotland has been given the green light to move down one tier of restrictions to “level two” from Monday, allowing cinemas, theatres and casinos to reopen and pubs and restaurants to serve alcohol indoors.

However, in an unexpected move, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday that the “level three” rules currently in force across the nation needed to stay in place in Glasgow for at least another week. Residents will be asked not travel outside the area for the time being, except for permitted purposes.

Addressing the Scottish parliament, Sturgeon cited “very significant” evidence suggesting that recent infections in the nation’s largest city were being caused by the strain prevalent in India. Cases in Glasgow had risen to 80 per 100,000 residents, she said.

While there was no sign the variant caused more severe illness, the first minister said it could be “significantly more transmissible” than the variant that first originated in Kent and had led to an earlier wave of cases across the UK.

“That alone calls for an approriate degree of caution,” Sturgeon said. “We need a few more days to assess the data and build confidence the situation can be brought under control.”

The decision deals another blow to the hospitality industry in Glasgow, where consumer spending underpins the local economy.

Officials in Scotland had just a few days ago planned to include Glasgow in the national relaxation, saying a recent pick up in infections was confined to particular hotspots in the city’s east end and south side. They were more concerned about a cluster in Moray, a more rural area in the north east.

After a review of the most recent data, Sturgeon said she was unable to give the green light to Glasgow. Existing lockdown restrictions will also remain in place in Moray, as had been expected.

Glasgow was now causing “even more concern” than Moray, Sturgeon said.

“I know how disappointing this will be, but pressing pause for a few days will hopefully avoid a situation in which we have to impose even more restrictive measures.”

Hospitality and leisure businesses in the affected areas would be entitled to £750 per week of additional support. The restrictions are to be reviewed at the end of next week.

Source : https://www.ft.com/content/5be29149-d862-4a25-9e00-569675198263

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