East Ayrshire is to be placed into lockdown as of 6pm this Friday (November 20) the First Minister has announced.

The local authority area has been designated as Level 4 in the Scottish Government’s level system, the strictest tier available. The restrictions will last for three weeks, until Friday, December 11.

Nicola Sturgeon said of the measures: "Level 4 is intended to be short and sharp. And in this situation, it is specifically intended to have an impact in advance of Christmas and the most challenging winter period."

Both South Ayrshire and East Ayrshire presented 'grounds for continued and significant concern', she added.

North Ayrshire will remain at Level 3 and the First Minister warned: "If there was evidence that people in East or South Ayrshire were travelling to North Ayrshire the government would be forced to consider action."

It means that most hospitality businesses will be shut except for those serving takeaway and all non-essential retail shops will have to close.

Click and collect, on-line services and outdoor retail, such as garden centres, outdoor markets and car lots, can remain open.

Indoor gyms will have to close, but outdoor exercise is still encouraged, though within the rules of meeting others outdoors, which remain the same as they were in Level 3, a maximum of six people, which can be from two separate households.

The rules regarding meeting people indoors remain the same, you still cannot meet people in your home.

Hairdressers and barbers will be shut, along with any other close contact services such as massage therapies, tattoos and piercings, etc.

All public sector buildings such as libraries will close.

All indoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, heritage attractions, indoor areas of zoos and aquariums will also have to close. However, outdoor attractions, including parks, gardens and outdoor areas of zoos, can remain open.

Weddings or civil partnership receptions cannot go ahead.

Indoor acts of worship can continue but participants will be limited to a maximum of 20 people.

Schools will remain open. 

The move to Level 4 had been anticipated with a briefing to business chiefs telling them to prepare for lockdown measures in much of the central belt being leaked to the press yesterday (Monday, November 16).

East Ayrshire has been in Level 3 of the Scottish Government's level system since Monday, November 2. It had been hoped that the Level 3 restrictions, which involved curfews and changes to operations for hospitality as well as meeting other people both indoors and outdoors would be enough to stem the rising tide of coronavirus cases.

However, the latest data shows that between November 6-12 there were 224 positive cases of coronavirus in East Ayrshire. Between November 5-11 there were seven people who died as a result of COVID-19. More weekly deaths were only recorded on five separate occasions during the peak of the pandemic during the Spring/early Summer.