Hospitality restrictions, which have seen several Shetland pubs close, are set to continue for another week, the First Minister has announced.
Nicola Sturgeon said the ban on household visits would also continue during her lunchtime announcement today.
The temporary restrictions which came into effect on 9th October, banning the sale of alcohol at indoor venues and restricting opening hours, had been due to end on Monday,
However, Ms Sturgeon said the restrictions would now continue until the following Monday, 2nd November, when a new tiered approach to the pandemic comes into effect.
Financial support to affected businesses will continue for the additional week.
Ms Sturgeon said that despite “cautious optimism” that the restrictions were having an effect on the transmission of Covid-19, clinical advisors said it would not be safe to lift them on Monday.
She said the extension also made for a smoother transition into the new “strategic framework”, details of which will be published on Friday.
The new approach will see different tiers applied regionally or nationally depending on the level of infection, subject to regular rules.
However, Ms Sturgeon added: “We cant rule out that this new approach will entail further extension of existing restrictions or perhaps even tougher restrictions for all or parts of the country.”
She acknowledged the current restrictions were unwelcome.
“They’re harsh,” she added.
“They’re harsh financially, on businesses, and they’re harsh emotionally for all of us.
“None of these decisions have been taken lightly – this is all about trying to save lives and minimise the health damage.”
Ms Sturgeon made the announcement after reporting today’s official figures, which included 1,739 new cases.
Ms Sturgeon also confirmed 28 people had died – the highest number since 21st May.
But despite the concerning case numbers, Ms Sturgeon said she believed the restriction will make a difference – and may have already begun to do so,
“Although too early to be absolutely certain, we think we may be starting to see a reduction at the rate at which new cases are increasing,” she added.
“So the early data underlines the importance of sticking with it.”