Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out a return to a national lockdown as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
The first minister said the Scottish cabinet had not yet reached “final decisions” on further restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus, but that a lockdown like what was implemented back in March was not being considered.
Another meeting is planned tomorrow morning before Ms Sturgeon makes a statement about tougher restrictions to Holyrood.
Calling the current circumstances “the most difficult decision point we have reached so far”, she said: “Cases are rising everywhere across the country.
“Levels of infection now in most parts of Scotland are higher than we can be comfortable with.
“If this was a purely one-dimensional decision where the immediate harm by Covid was only thing to consider, we would be moving to measures much closer to lockdown.
“But seven months in, it’s a very multi-dimensional decision.
“We have to carefully balance all the different parts.
“We must consider the harm done to jobs and the economy, and the wider harm to health and wellbeing.
There have been two new deaths and a total of 800 new Covid-19 cases reported in Scotland in the past 24 hours.
The new cases represent 13.2% of all newly-tested people.
Despite the continued rise, Ms Sturgeon made a point of saying what the new restrictions would not include.
She said: “We are not proposing another lockdown at this stage. Not even on a temporary basis.
“We’re not going to be asking you to stay inside your own homes the way we did back in March.”
The figures are “particularly pronounced” in the central belt, in areas like Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Lothian and now Ayrshire and Arran and Forth Valley.
National clinical director Jason Leitch said people must remain “vigilant” as Scotland continues to battle the virus.
He said: “Back in March, like almost every WHO member country, Scotland brought down a fairly blunt hammer of what we now know as lockdown.
“Since May, we have been trying to find a way out of that lockdown. We’ve called ours a route map.
“It is different from the hammer, it is more evidenced, but it is much, much harder.
“It is not March, we have so much more [information], but it is October and we have to be vigilant.”
Ms Sturgeon said that most parts of mainland Scotland now had infection levels that were higher than 50 cases per 100,000 people – recalling local lockdown measures had been introduced in Aberdeen when infections there reached 20 cases per 100,000 people.
She said: “We’re also now beginning to see spread from the younger age group of the population into the older age groups.
“Again, the numbers being admitted to hospitals and intensive care, and sadly the number of people dying, are also increasing.”
“The situation is not out of control, but it is a cause of increasing concern.”
When the ban on going into other people’s homes was announced two weeks ago, Ms Sturgeon said there were an average of 285 new cases a day – but she said this had now risen to 729.
“That shows you how, even in those two weeks, the situation has accelerated,” she said.