Coronavirus (COVID-19): Protection levels

Reading Time: 3 minutes

On 23 October 2020, the Scottish Government published its Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland’s Strategic Framework.  This document outlines the Scottish Government’s system of protection levels to manage the pandemic in Scotland. This blog provides a high-level summary of the protection levels and the current restrictions across Scotland, together with some maps and charts to aid understanding for MSPs and their constituents.

What do the protection levels mean?

The Scottish Government has outlined a five-level approach, which is intended to allow restrictions based on specific indicators for an area, instead of a ‘one size fits all’ national approach. The five protection levels start at level 0, which is Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) route map.

There are four levels above this which each contain a number of restrictions across a range of areas including socialising, hospitality, accommodation, travel, retail, education and leisure, which are intended to suppress the virus.

Level 0 (baseline) and Level 1

Low incidence of the virus with isolated clusters and low community transmission.

These levels still include some restrictions but are considered to be the closest to normality that will be possible without a vaccine or effective treatment in place.

Levels 2-3

Increased incidence of the virus with multiple clusters and increased community transmission.

Under these levels, there will be several measures focusing on potential areas of risk. This includes indoor settings where household mixing takes place with less, or less well-observed, physical distancing and mitigations. The measures would be intended to be in place for relatively short periods (2-4 weeks), and only for as long as required to get the virus down to a low, sustainable level.

Level 4

Very high or rapidly increasing incidence and widespread community transmission which may pose a threat to the NHS to cope.

This level will see the introduction of measures close to a return to full lockdown

The following table shows the restrictions on socialising in each level. More information on the Protection Levels Framework can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Level
Indoors
Outdoors
Level 0
8 people from 3 households
15 people from 5 households
Level 1
6 people from 2 households
6 people from 2 households
Level 2
No in-home socialising
6 people from 2 households outdoors and in public place
Level 3
No in-home socialising
6 people from 2 households outdoors and in public place
Level 4
No in-home socialising
6 people from 2 households outdoors and in public place

What do the current protection levels look like across Scotland?

The Scottish Government set the initial levels for each local authority area on 29 October 2020. The levels will be reviewed each week based on the latest evidence and a decision will be made on whether to maintain, increase, or reduce the level of an area. This indicators are:

  • The number of cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days.
  • The percentage of tests that are positive over the past seven days.
  • Forecasts of the number of cases per 100,000, consisting of the weekly number of cases in two weeks’ time.
  • Current and projected future use of local hospital beds, compared with capacity.
  • Current and projected future use of intensive care beds, compared with capacity.

The Scottish Government has indicated that it would be possible to introduce measures on a smaller level, such as a town or island community – or indeed regionally or nationally, if that is deemed justified, necessary and proportionate.

There were no changes to protection levels announced on 24 November 2020.

The following map shows the current protection level for each local authority area as well as the number of cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 of the population at the time of the last review.

Latest update: 26 November 2020

Protection level by local authority area in Scotland from Friday 27 November

How have the protection levels changed? 

The following interactive chart tracks how protection levels have changed in Scotland. It is based on what the protection level was at on Friday of each week, apart from the first week which uses the date that the protections level first came into effect. 

Tips on using the tool:

  • You can click on a protection level in the legend above the chart and this will remove all areas on that level.
  • You can double click on a protection level in the legend above the chart and this will highlight all areas on that level. Double click again to reset.

Change in protection levels

How have the cases per 100,000 by local authority changed?

The following chart shows how the number of cases per 100,000 of the population for each local authority has changed since the first case in Scotland. While not an indicator, it gives an idea of what is going on in each area. Local authorities are grouped by their current protection level. The chart is interactive so you can hover over each line to get information on each local authority.

Latest update: 26 November 2020

Source: Public Health Scotland

You can find more information on the latest data on testing, hospital admissions and deaths in Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland – latest data.

Andrew Aiton, Data Visualisation Manager

Featured image: “19960528 01 Scotland Map” by davidwilson1949 is licensed under CC BY 2.0