The Scottish Government has been urged not to plunge all of Aberdeenshire into stricter lockdown restrictions due to localised outbreaks.
But the SNP has argued against the idea of only enforcing harsher guidelines in “pockets” of the county, saying there is “evidence of spikes” across the area.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney hinted on Friday that rising levels of Covid-19 in Aberdeenshire meant the region could go from tier two to tier three.
Scottish Government ministers will decide what tiers each Scottish council belongs in tomorrow.
Cases numbers are particularly high around the Buchan area, with outbreaks at seafood factories and schools being reported.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie, of the Scottish Conservatives, said the high number of cases in certain areas should not mean residents all over have to live under stricter rules.
He said: “The overwhelming majority of people and businesses are complying with the rules.
“There have been isolated outbreaks across the region, but they have been identified quickly.
“Employers are being told to deal with the uncertainty of changing their trade every week.
“And businesses are closing because they can’t keep up.”
We cannot simply put pockets of Aberdeenshire into a higher tier system when a political representative wants their area to be exempt.”
Gillian Martin MSP
But Gillian Martin, the SNP’s MSP for Aberdeenshire East, argued the virus poses a risk to everyone in the region.
She said: “The tier system is agreed by the Scottish Government, public health officials at NHS Grampian, and the Tory-led administration at Aberdeenshire Council, in accordance with local trends.
“It is clear early intervention can help to prevent a rise in Covid-19 cases.
“There is evidence of spikes across Aberdeenshire, including Deeside as well as the Buchan area.
“We cannot simply put pockets of Aberdeenshire into a higher tier system when a political representative wants their area to be exempt.
“The responsibility is on everyone living in the area to practice good hygiene, social distancing, and wear masks.”
‘Tier three is something we would rather not happen’
Aberdeenshire Council leader Jim Gifford said the possibility of only locking down certain areas has been discussed with local health officials.
He said: “Tier three is something we would rather not happen, but the figures in many areas are remaining stubbornly high or moving up at a worrying rate.
“More localised restrictions have certainly been discussed, but the practicalities of trying to make it work would be really challenging.
“We are a rural area, people move around a fair bit and there’s a lot of people in Buchan who commute to Aberdeen to work on a daily basis.
“It sounds good in theory, but in practice it might be hard to make it work, and the most important thing with restrictions if they have to be effective.”
On Sunday, 24 new cases were confirmed in the region, and data from Public Health Scotland showed a seven-day positive rate per 100,000 of the population yesterday evening at 52.4.
On November 1, that figure stood at 21.4.
The seven-day positive rate per 100,000 of the population has been fewer than 15 in a number of areas across Aberdeenshire, including the East Cairngorms, Crathes and Torphins, Stonehaven, Huntly and Banff, according to Public Health Scotland.
But in other regions, like Mearns North and Inverbervie, the figure stands between 50 and 74, in Westhill between 75 and 99, and Inverurie North at more than 100.
It would be a big knock to confidence to both the whole region and the city, so fingers crossed Aberdeenshire will stay in Tier 2 like Aberdeen.”
On Friday, public health officials told members of the North East Scotland Fisheries Development Partnership that seafood processing companies have been a hotspot for the virus.
A multi-agency incident management team has been established to help processors minimise the risk on their premises.
Aberdeen City Council leader Douglas Lumsden raised concerns about the impact of Aberdeenshire being shifted into tier three.
He said: “It would be really damaging for businesses in Aberdeen who rely on a fair bit of income from visitors from Aberdeenshire coming into the city.
“It would be a big knock to confidence to both the whole region and the city, so fingers crossed Aberdeenshire will stay in Tier 2 like Aberdeen.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Ministers will decide on Tuesday the levels that will apply to each local authority to continue to suppress the virus.”