People living in the Highlands and Moray may be able to meet each other indoors for the first time in months as part of next week’s coronavirus restrictions review, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The first minister confirmed officials are discussing whether the very north of Scotland could be allowed to mirror the rules already in place in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, which allow up to six people from two households to gather.
All of the areas are currently living under level one measures, the second-lowest tier of restrictions under the Scottish system, but only island communities have been allowed to meet indoors because of a lack of meeting places and concerns about isolation.
Early versions of the tier system indicated all areas living under the lowest two levels of restrictions would be allowed to meet under certain guidelines but Ms Sturgeon stopped short of this when announcing the first levels in October.
The first minister was asked during the latest review, on Tuesday, whether she would consider mirroring the islands home visit rules given the Highlands and Moray have had the same indicators on the allocator of levels table since November 24.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Yes, we are considering that. The advice to date has been on a precautionary basis not to make that change.
“However, it is one of the issues we will be considering up to and through next week’s review. If there is any change to that next week, I will set that out to Parliament.”
Community leaders in the Highlands argued in October that the geography and weather conditions of their area should be taken into consideration in regards to home visits.
The land area covered by Highland Council is 20% larger than Wales and has the seventh-highest population of Scotland’s 32 local authorities but the lowest population density.