The latest figures detailing the number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last 24 hours in Scotland have been announced.

The figures in Scotland as at 13 December 2020 are as follows:

  • 800 new cases of Covid-19 reported
  • 139 of these were in Lothian, 179 in Greater Glasgow & Clyde and 116in Lanarkshire.
  • 17,236 new tests were reported and 5.2% of those newly tested showed positive results
  • 47 people were in intensive care yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19
  • 1,015 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19
  • 1,263,656 people have now been tested in Scotland.
  • 2 newly reported deaths have been announced today of people who have tested positive within the last 28 days, but the numbers at weekends can be underreported as registry offices are closed
  • The total number of positive cases in Scotland has risen to 106,170
  • The number of deaths under this daily measurement is now 4,111

National Records of Scotland announced their weekly figures on Wednesday stating that the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 6 December 2020 is 5,868. This figure is calculated on a wider definition of deaths relating to Covid-19 than the daily figure reported by The Scottish Government.

Situation in Edinburgh

Much has been said in recent days, by politicians and local business people on the subject of the level of restrictions which apply here in Edinburgh, and whether they are appropriate. Seven local business people raised an action in the Court of Session to have the decision by Scottish Ministers overturned, but a decision was handed down on Friday night by Lord Ericht. His Lordship decided that there was no basis on which the court could either pause the decision or overturn it. He said that Scottish Ministers were ‘not obliged to act in accordance with the advice of their public health advisers, but were entitled to come to their own judgement’. He sympathised with the seven petitioners, who largely represented the hospitality sector, but said that the pandemic has also brought particularly difficult challenges to Scottish Ministers who ‘have to balance various interests in their Covid decision making’.

In The City of Edinburgh Council area between 24 November 2020 and 30 November 2020, 335 positive cases of Covid-19 were recorded. This equated to a 7 day positivity rate per 100,000 population of 63.8.

For the week to 9 December 2020 (the latest seven day period for which this information is available and a day after the latest review was announced) that positivity rate has risen to 92.8 with 487 positive cases recorded. You can read other figures over the last couple of weeks in our table below.

Allocation of levels

The government has explained the way it allocates levels to any of the 32 Scottish local authorities. Ministers consider a variety of ‘critical indicators including the number of cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, the percentage of positive tests over the same period and forecasts of the number of cases per 100,000″. This then helps inform the current and projected use of hospital and ICU beds. All of this data is publicly available on the Public Health Scotland website.

But The Scottish Government has also said that there are other considerations such as the prevalence of infection in neighbouring areas including ‘relevance of travel routes in and out of an area’ which fall to be considered at the weekly review. When the first Level was set on 2 November 2020 the figures below are the appropriate numbers under headers Cases per 100k, Test positivity, cases per 100K forecast, Hospital forecast, ICU forecast, present level and which led to the new level (actually the same as already applied) as at 2 November.

SOME NUMBERS

Seven day period 7 day positive rate per 100,000 population 7 day Test positivity rate
to 2 November 202080.65.0%
to 28 November 202075.64.2%
to 29 November 202069.04.0%
to 30 November 202063.83.7%
to 1 December 202063.13.7%
to 2 December 202064.43.8%
to 3 December 202071.24.2%
to 4 December 202069.04.0%
to 5 December 202071.64.2%
to 6 December 202078.74.5%
to 7 December 202085.54.6%
to 8 December 202088.44.8%
to 9 December 202092.85.0%

On a strict numerical basis, the number of cases per 100,000 people recorded in recent weeks does not mean that Edinburgh should be in Level Three – nor does the 7 day test positivity level.

The Scottish Government says that it sets Level 3 restrictions in an area based on these criteria:

  • An area is considered for level 3 when it does not meet level 4 and it broadly meets one of the following conditions:
  • a. between 150 and 300 cases over 7 days per 100,000 people for the local authority
  • b. between 5% and 10% positive tests over 7 days for the local authority
  • c. probability over 75% of 300 cases over 7 days per 100,000 forecast for the local authority in two weeks’ time
  • d. the projection of hospital bed use in the health board in four weeks’ time is greater than the health board’s estimated capacity
  • e. the projection of ICU bed use in the health board in three weeks’ time is greater than twice its normal capacity

The Scottish Government has also pronounced that: “Given the risk of harm from action intended to suppress the virus, decisions taken on the basis of this Framework and the consequent actions have to be justified, necessary and proportionate.

And elsewhere: “In relation to decisions to allocate levels to local authority areas, the Framework is clear that they have to be based firmly in the best available evidence, assessed through a process that is open, transparent and collaborative and frequently reviewed so that restrictions are not kept in place longer than is strictly necessary to achieve the aim of suppressing the virus.”

But the government also stated that while data is critical, it is not in itself conclusive, and that wider considerations may well apply.

“These considerations include (but are not limited to):

 Application of general principles of public health and effective disease control including the precautionary principle which may suggest caution in some circumstances and early intervention in others;

 the prevalence of infection in neighbouring areas including relevance of travel routes in and out of an area;

 trends in the data which may in some cases point to the need for a period of consolidation or stability before the allocation of a level can be reduced;

 the effectiveness and sustainability of local public health measures including Test and Protect;

 the relevance of “special cause” explanations such as particular outbreaks or events that may require more limited or specific action to suppress the virus;

 that hospital capacity may need to be considered regionally and even nationally and not just locally.”

Edinburgh was retained in Level Three restrictions on 2 November 2020 when the Five Level system was introduced. These are the reasons given: “Consideration was given to allocating City of Edinburgh to level 2. Some signs of improvement in indicators was recognised along with the likely significant impact of further recent measures to restrict hospitality, which is a significant factor in the area. Modelling supporting indicator (c) predicts that Edinburgh is likely to continue to improve. It was therefore acknowledged that City of Edinburgh could aspire to future allocation at level 2. For the moment however given the status of the indicators it was judged too early to consider effectively reducing the level of restriction applied.

 It was acknowledged that there was no basis in evidence presented to consider allocating City of Edinburgh to level 4. On that basis City of Edinburgh was allocated to level 3, to reflect need for continuation of approximately current levels of restriction.”

Most recent review on 8 December 2020

There was speculation that the city would be moved up to Level Two on 8 December, but that did not happen.

There has been discussion in Parliament, at the daily media briefing, on Twitter and at the recent council meeting about the Scottish Ministers’ decision and whether it was fair. It will be reviewed again as usual this Tuesday.

In Holyrood on Thursday 10 December the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon replied to a question from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard about Edinburgh and the level applied here as follows: “Over the past seven days, the number of cases per 100,000 in Edinburgh has gone up by 14 per cent and test positivity has gone up by 0.5 per cent. Test positivity is still moderate in Edinburgh, but it has increased in five of the past seven days. The latest data show that case levels have increased in four of the past seven days. The health board breakdown of the case numbers that I reported to the Parliament a moment ago shows that Lothian accounts for the second biggest number of cases that we have reported today.

“These are serious decisions that have to be taken carefully. If case numbers are rising slightly or not declining significantly enough in an area, there is a risk in easing restrictions, because the danger is that the situation will very quickly run out of control. The Cabinet reached the judgment that taking Edinburgh down a level at this stage would pose a significant risk to the overall situation, which is why we did not do that. We will review the position again on Tuesday.

“We need only look across the world, across Europe and even across the United Kingdom right now to see what happens when restrictions are eased. As restrictions have been eased, there has been a slight increase in the number of cases in England, a dramatic increase in Wales and a bit of an increase in Northern Ireland. That is what we potentially face as we ease restrictions, so it is important that, before we do so, we ensure that the situation is as stable as possible.

“Given the data on Edinburgh that I have just shared with the chamber, I do not think that easing the restrictions this week would have been a safe or sensible decision. I understand why people in Edinburgh wanted that to happen but, in a couple of weeks, I think that they might have had a very different view.”

You can also see the latest numbers laid out visually on the Travelling Tabby website here. It is updated at 3pm daily.

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LEVEL THREE RESTRICTIONS:

Socialising in Level Three areas
Meeting others indoors
You should not meet anyone who is not in your household indoors in your home or in their home. This applies to all age groups 12 and over. You can meet another household indoors in a public place such as a café or restaurant. The maximum number of people who can meet indoors in a public (not a home) place are 6 which can be from up to 2 separate households.

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people counted in a gathering.

Where an individual household includes more than 6 people, they can nevertheless meet as a single household even if the total number of people exceeds 6.

When you meet people from another household indoors you should:

minimise the number of meetings you have with people from other households each day
stay at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not part of your household, unless in a public venue that is operating 1 metre distancing with additional measures being in place to avoid transmission.
maintain hand and cough hygiene
avoid touching hard surfaces with your hands
wash your hands when you arrive, when you leave, when you get home and especially before eating or after touching surfaces
not share food or utensils – if eating, each household should bring, prepare and eat its own food separately
if possible, keep rooms well ventilated – consider opening windows or a door
Those at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (including those who had been shielding, people 70 and over, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) should strictly follow the physical distancing guidance.

Meeting others outdoors
You can meet people from other households outdoors in a private garden or in a public place such as a park or an outdoor area of a pub. The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is 6 which can be from up to 2 separate households.

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people counted in a gathering. Children under 12 do not need to maintain physical distance from others. This is to allow children under 12 to play with their friends outside.

Young people aged between 12 and 17 can meet up in groups of up to 6 at a time outdoors and are not subject to the 2 household limit. Physical distancing is required.

Where an individual household includes more than 6 people, they can continue to meet outside as a household even if the total number of people exceeds 6.

You should:

minimise the number of meetings you have with people from other households each day
stay at least 2 metres away from anyone who is not part of your household
maintain hand and cough hygiene
avoid touching hard surfaces with your hands
wash your hands when you arrive, when you leave, when you get home and especially before eating or after touching surfaces
not share food or utensils – if eating, each household should bring, prepare and eat its own food separately
if possible, keep rooms well ventilated – consider opening windows or a door
Those at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (including those who had been shielding, people 70 and over, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) should strictly follow the physical distancing guidance.

Going into someone else’s home
If you are meeting people from another household in their garden and the gathering exceeds 6 people, you should only go into their house to:

access the garden – do so quickly and without touching anything
use the toilet – avoid touching surfaces with your hands as much as possible, wipe any surfaces that you do touch with antibacterial wipes, wash your hands thoroughly, dry your hands with a freshly laundered towel or a paper towel, which you should dispose of in a closed bin.
If members of another household are going to visit you and might need to use your toilet, you should ensure appropriate cleaning materials are available. You should also provide either a hand towel for each visiting household or paper towels and a safe disposal option.

Extended households
People who live in different places can form an “extended household” in the following circumstances:

People who live alone​​​​
If you are an adult and you live alone, or if all others in your household are under 18, you, any children who live with you, and the members of one other household (of any size) can agree to form an ‘extended household’. This will allow people who live alone (or those living only with children under the age of 18) to be considered part of another household in order to reduce loneliness, isolation and to provide mutual social support.
Couples who do not live together
Two adults are in a relationship and they do not live together they, and any children they each live with, can agree to form an ‘extended household’.
However, if one member of a household gets coronavirus, there is a strong likelihood that other members of that household will also catch it. For this reason, there are some important rules that extended households should follow to remain as safe as possible:

a household must not form an extended household with more than one other household
households can end the arrangement at any time, but should not then form an extended household with a new household for at least a 14-day period.
All the adults living in both households should agree to form the extended household. We also encourage parents or guardians to involve their children in discussions. Forming an extended household is an important decision that should be properly discussed and agreed beforehand. Physical distancing between members of an extended household is not required

Once two households have agreed to form an extended household they may meet outdoors or indoors, visit and stay at each other’s homes, and do everything that people in other households can do, such as watch TV, share a meal and look after each other’s children.

Members of an extended household are considered to be one household for the legal requirements on meeting other households and going outside, and for the guidance in this document about seeing friends and family and about exercise and leisure activity.

You can continue to interact with members of your extended household even if they live in a different area with a different Level of protective measures.

If someone in the extended household develops COVID-19 symptoms, to avoid spreading the virus all members of the extended household must isolate immediately if they met the symptomatic person at any time between 2 days before and up to 10 days after their symptoms started.

If the symptomatic person tests positive, all members of their direct household must isolate for 14 days from the start of symptoms. Similarly, other members of the extended household must isolate for 14 days from when the most recent contact took place. Isolate means staying in your own home for the full 14 days.

Those at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (including people over 70, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) may take part in an extended household arrangement, but should strictly follow the handwashing, surface cleaning and respiratory hygiene guidance on the NHS Inform website.

Shared parenting
Where parents do not live in the same household, children can move between their parents’ homes in all levels, this includes both supervised and unsupervised visitation.

Hospitality in Level Three Areas
Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars can open indoor and outdoors for the consumption of food and non alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks cannot be served. Last entry is 17:00 and all venues must be closed and all customers off the premises by 18:00.

The maximum number of people you can meet indoors and outdoors in a restaurant, café, pub or bar is 6 which can be from up to 2 separate households.

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people meeting outdoors only.

Where an individual household includes more than 6 people they can continue to meet as a household in hospitality premises, although the venue may impose a smaller group limit.

Table service and the wearing of face-coverings (unless exempt) when not seated by all customers is mandatory in all hospitality venues. When meeting people from more than one other household, you should think beforehand about what size of table you will need to keep physically distanced between members of your group. The venue you are visiting should be able to advise you of booking options.

You will be asked by to provide your contact details for Test and Protect purposes This information is retained for 21 days with a view to sharing with Test and Protect Teams, if required.

Hospitality venues are required to put in place additional measures to minimise transmission of COVID-19. For example hand sanitiser stations and adequate ventilation. There will also be signs to inform customers whether the venue is in a 2 metres or 1 metre social distancing area.

You should stay at least 2 metres apart from people from other households at all times, unless the venue is operating 1 metre distancing due to additional measures being in place to avoid transmission. Physical distancing and good hand hygiene remain the most effective measures in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, distancing requirements need to be maintained, where reasonably practicable, at all times, including when waiting to enter premises and when seated.

You should avoid visiting multiple hospitality premises on the same day. In particular, do not visit more than one pub or bar on the same day, as this increases the risk of transmission.

Takeaways can still operate as normal, provided food and drink is sold for consumption off the premises. Face coverings and physical distancing rules must be followed.

Hotels and other accommodation providers can still serve food to guests staying in their premises up to 22:00. Room service, including alcohol, is allowed as normal.