A fall in the R Number in Scotland indicates the “current tough measures” to tackle coronavirus are working, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
But the First Minister stressed regional variations across the country justify the need for the more restrictive measures that will be implemented from Friday.
Ms Sturgeon spoke as she gave an update on Covid-19 to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
She said 50 deaths of people with the virus and 1,089 positive tests have been recorded in the past 24 hours.
It brings the total number of fatalities under that measures – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 3,427.
A total of 85,612 people have now tested positive in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.
Telling MSPs the R number – the reproduction rate of the virus – is now “very slightly below one”, she said: “That indicates that the current tough measures that have been in place have had an effect.”
But she said there are still regional variations, adding: “In those parts of the country with the highest prevalence we’ve not yet seen as significant or as rapid a fall in cases as we need to.
“That is why we have taken the decision to move 11 local authority areas into Level 4 from 6pm tomorrow until Friday December 11.”
Under Level 4 measures, non-essential shops will be forced to close, along with bars and restaurants.
Ms Sturgeon stressed this is a “difficult decision” but added: “In the situation we face, in common with much of the rest of the world, the job of government must be to do what is necessary to save lives and protect health, even when we know these decisions will not be welcome.”
The First Minister said moving the council areas to Level 4 – the toughest tier of restrictions in Scotland – is “necessary to reduce the loss of life and serious illness”.
She added the move will help protect the NHS over the winter and “allow people, albeit in a limited and careful way, the prospect of being able to spend some time with loved ones over the Christmas period”.
Ms Sturgeon urged people to abide by the rules “as part of our collective efforts to get through the rest of this pandemic with as little harm to health and loss of life as possible”.
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