Pubs and restaurants in the central belt of Scotland are to remain closed, Nicola Sturgeon said as she extended the coronavirus restrictions for a third week.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily virus briefing, the First Minister said the measures introduced at the beginning of October and intended to last for two weeks will now continue until November 2.
They were due to end on October 25, and also forced the closure of snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling, casinos and bingo halls in the central belt, with a 6pm indoor curfew brought in for hospitality businesses elsewhere in Scotland.
People across the country are also banned from visiting each other’s homes, unless they are part of an extended household.
The restrictions will now be in place until a tiered system is introduced on November 2, with different measures for different areas.
Ms Sturgeon said while there is “cautious optimism” that the current restrictions are working – with evidence of a reduction in the rate of new cases – Scottish ministers have been told by advisers it would not be safe to lift them as originally planned on Monday.
“The extension allows us to transition more smoothly to the new levels system that we hope will be introduced on November 2,” she said.
She spoke as 28 more coronavirus deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, with 1,739 new positive tests.
This is the highest number of fatalities since May 21.
Ms Sturgeon said she understands the extension of restrictions “harsh” financially and emotionally for individuals and businesses.
“I want to stress again that none of these decisions are being taken lightly – this is all about trying to save lives and minimise the health damage that we know this virus is capable of doing,” she said.
Financial support will be extended to help businesses impacted by the extension of restrictions, she added.
The First Minister said full details of that support will be published online, but the business support grants and top-ups for the furlough scheme will be extended.
Scottish businesses will receive “proportionally the same” amount of support in the extra week of the restrictions as they did in the previous 16 days, she said.
The Scottish Government will also outline levels of support to be offered to firms in the new tiered system of restrictions to be published on Friday.
However, Ms Sturgeon said the financial support outlined in the framework will be the maximum amount which can be offered by her devolved administration.
The Scottish Government, the First Minister said, will pursue “urgent discussions” with the Treasury to increase funding to allow more support for businesses to be offered.