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‘We need to be cautious’: Moray residents urged to hold off on group reunions as infection rate remains too high

Moray Council convener Shona Morrison has urged residents to meet only in small groups to reduce local Covid numbers.
Moray Council convener Shona Morrison has urged residents to meet only in small groups to reduce local Covid numbers.

Moray residents have been urged to limit social interactions despite coronavirus restrictions easing amid concerns Covid infection rates are still too high in the region.

Scottish Government guidelines currently allow up to six people from six households to meet outdoors.

And from tomorrow, hospitality venues, shops and tourist attractions will open their doors once again to customers as the mainland moves to Level 3 restrictions.

Moray residents urged to meet in small groups

However, residents in Moray have been urged to continue to limit their social interactions to just one or two other people to limit the spread of Covid.

Moray Council convener Shona Morrison, who is also a NHS Grampian board member, revealed about a third of all Covid cases in Grampian currently come from the IV30 postcode area, which encompasses Elgin, Burghead, Lhanbryde, Hopeman and surrounding communities.

Moray Council convener Shona Morrison.

She said: “There is an increasing number of unconnected cases, which is suggesting that it is spreading in the community.

“There are some cases in schools, which was expected to a certain degree, but there are special measures and testing there to limit the spread.

“What is concerning is these unconnected cases, which is why we’re asking people to try to limit their contacts – so instead of meeting in groups of five or six, limit that to one or two other people.

“Doing that gives the numbers an opportunity to decrease, which is a sensible way ahead.”

Infection rate in Moray higher than neighbours

Figures published by Public Health Scotland show Moray currently has a Covid infection rate of 44.9, per 100,000 of population.

For most of last year Moray had a positivity rate of between just six and eight, per 100,000, – allowing it to be one of the few mainland councils in Scotland to be in Level 1 restrictions before Christmas.

However, despite the region’s infection rate reducing from 163.8 at the start of the year it is currently more than double the positivity rate in Aberdeen, which is 21 per 100,000, and nearly treble Aberdeenshire’s, which is 11.9.

Senior NHS Grampian officials suggested in February that mixing households in Moray were one possible reason for high Covid case numbers.

Mrs Morrison has encouraged residents to take advantage of free rapid Covid tests available from the Scottish Government.

She said: “We want to ensure we have the least restrictions possible but it’s also important to be incredibly cautious.

“It would be lovely to have the restrictions lowered and be able to have more social interaction but we have to be really careful.”

You can now travel within Scotland to meet outside but must not stay away overnight.We're getting back some freedoms…

Posted by Health and Social Care Moray on Thursday, 22 April 2021

Police warning as Covid restrictions ease

Meanwhile, senior police officers across Scotland have urged residents to continue to take precautions as Covid restrictions ease.

Chief Superintendent George Macdonald, north-east divisional commander, said: “With the hospitality sector and non-essential shops reopening we are going to see increased traffic on our roads and more people in our towns, cities and retail parks.

Chief Superintendent George Macdonald.

“If you are visiting beauty spots then I would urge you to please do so safely and respectfully – leaving no trace of your visit. Please also park responsibly to allow emergency access.

“While level three allows six people from two households to meet inside a public place, such as a cafe or restaurant, indoor house parties are still not permitted due to the serious risk of spreading the virus.”

Coronavirus in Scotland – track the spread in these charts and maps

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