Covid: Moray moving to level two 'hugely welcome'

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ElginImage source, Becky Saunderson
Image caption,
Elgin is one of the areas of Moray which has been awaiting news

The decision to move Moray to level two restrictions has been described as "hugely welcome".

The area had been kept in level three over concerns about its infection rate.

However it has dropped in recent days, to under 40 cases per 100,000 people - below the level two threshold of 50.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Moray would move to level two from midnight. Moray Council chief executive Roddy Burns paid tribute to efforts that have been made locally.

Ms Sturgeon said the situation in Moray had improved "significantly".

Level two restrictions means pubs and restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol inside until 22:30, and limited numbers of people can socialise indoors.

Social distancing during meetings indoors or in private gardens is no longer required and people can travel to and from areas in the same or a lower level.

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The vaccination roll-out was earlier widened to include younger adults in Moray.

Mr Burns said: "It's hugely welcome news that Moray will move to level two from midnight and I pay tribute to the community, NHS and council colleagues for their response to the increased and enhanced testing and accelerated vaccination programmes.

"Thanks also to our vibrant business community for their support and forbearance as we overcame this challenge together.

"The move means so much to so many."

He added: "This outbreak in Moray has brought it home how easy it is for the virus to run out of control."

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he was delighted his local area was moving to level two.

'Willingness of community'

The Moray MP said: "I was able to have my vaccine last Sunday because we opened it up here to anyone over 18 without appointments from the NHS and I know that's happened in Glasgow. We've got to look at what has worked here and in other areas of the country to get any spike in cases down."

Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, said the strategy had been protecting people by "getting ahead of the virus".

She said there had been an increase in testing, and detailed case checks.

She echoed praise of the "willingness of the community" to help.

Elgin and Keith were said to have been been among particular hotspots, along with areas such as Lossiemouth and Aberlour.

According to official statistics published on Thursday, the weekly case rate in Moray had fallen to 36.5 per 100,000.