A new framework for Covid-19 measures has offered hope that Shetland could soon see restrictions eased.
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today (Friday) announced details of five tiers set to take effect from 2nd November.
She said the new measures would mean “we don’t have to take a one size fits all approach that’s not warranted”.
“It means that a part of the country with low rates of infection won’t have to live with the same restrictions as a part of the country with much higher rates,” Ms Sturgeon added.
It echoes calls made repeatedly by the SIC’s political leader Steven Coutts, who is expected to discuss the new framework and its application in Shetland in the coming days.
With Shetland’s low-rate of transmission, it is hoped the isles can benefit from the new “level zero” or “level one” tiered restrictions.
The government’s strategic approach document describes levels zero and one as being applied to areas with “low incidence of the virus with isolated clusters, and low community transmission”.
Ms Sturgeon said level zero was the closest to a return to normality that can be safely achieved before more effective treatments or a vaccine is available.
She said it was similar to the situation in August, when many restrictions had been eased before the latest resurgence is cases across the mainland.
It would mean household visits could resume, with up to eight people from three households.
Level one would also permit up to six people from two households to meet indoors.
Travel would be permitted. Although non-essential travel would not be allowed to or from areas at level three or above.
Hospitality venues would also permitted to serve alcohol indoors and outdoors, unlike the current temporary restrictions.
Level two is described as broadly similar to the current restrictions in most of Scotland, whereas level three has been compared to the situation in the central belt, where stricter measures are in place.
Level four would be closer to a full lockdown, with closure of non-essential shops, although Ms Sturgeon said even those restrictions would be lesser than those introduced for the first lockdown in March.
She said level four would not be used unless “absolutely necessary” when infection rates became “very high”.
Ms Sturgeon said she would be listening to views from stakeholders, including local authorities and businesses.
She said recent figures indicated the current restrictions were working.
Although case numbers continue to rise, the rate at which they are doing so has declined to just seven per cent in the latest week – down from 52 per cent a fortnight ago.
Ms Sturgeon said was grounds for “cautious optimism” and hoped there could be a reduction cases in the weeks ahead.
She said: “I know that when people hear the daily figures it’s easy to feel as though the hard sacrifices we are all living with are not making a difference.
“But by taking these difficult steps we will help suppress the virus, and that is why I am asking everyone to stick with it.”
Ms Sturgeon has not confirmed which tiers will apply to different parts of the country but is expected to do so next week.