EAST Lothian will move into Level Three restrictions from Monday but could be moved into less restrictive Level Two over the next week, the First Minister announced today.

Setting out the Protection Levels in a five-tier system which comes into force from 6am on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that East Lothian would be put into the Level Three tier in line with the rest of the Central Belt.

However, she told MSPs: "We would hope at a very early stage to consider moving some authorities, I think East Lothian in particular and possibly Edinburgh, from Level Three to Level Two.

"I cannot make that commitment now but hope to be able to in the coming week."

The Scottish Government has since published its reasoning behind placing East Lothian in Level 3.

Councillor Norman Hampshire (Lab), depute council leader, held several talks with depute First Minister John Swinney and public health officials through the week as he made the case for the county to go into the lower Level Two.

READ MORE: Do the tiers justify the tears? Spotlight on East Lothian's Covid-19 cases 

However, the rate of cases in the county, while not reaching levels seen in recent weeks in neighbouring local authorities, has continued to rise, reaching 94.3 cases per 100,000 people in the last week.

Cases in Edinburgh, in the most up to date weekly report, sat at 90.7 per 100,000 people, with the rate in Midlothian at 97.3

Under Level Three, socialising with other households indoors remains banned and a maximum of six people from two households can meet outdoors or in public places.

Hospitality is allowed to open but not allowed to sell alcohol either indoors or outdoors and may be given restricted opening hours.

Had the council been moved into Level Two, pubs and restaurants would have been allowed to serve alcohol outdoors or indoors with a meal.

Takeaways are allowed to deliver food and alcohol.

Hotels, B&Bs, self-catering and caravan and campsites are allowed to stay open but must follow the same socialising and hospitality rules, with guidance encouraging any non-essential use to be related to local residents only with essential use, for example work-related stays, allowed to continue.

Non-essential travel into or out of the Tier Three areas is advised against, with exemptions for work, education, shopping, health, outdoor exercise, weddings and funerals, and passing through the area.

Car sharing should be avoided, public transport used only if essential and face coverings worn.

Shops remain open, as will close contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians; however, mobile close contact services will have to stop operating.

Church services will be restricted to a maximum of 50 people, live events such as football will be closed to spectators and there will be a 20-person limit for weddings, funerals and wakes and receptions.

Sport and exercise is allowed indoors for individual exercise only, with outdoors sport allowed except non-professional adult contact sports.

Working from home where possible remains the advice.

Councillor Hampshire took to social media yesterday evening to warn constituents he expected the tougher restrictions to be applied to the county.

He said: "I have to tell you that I been given no real hope that East Lothian will move out of Level 3.

"I have not seen the evidence to justify the damage this will cause to jobs and businesses across East Lothian.

"I will be looking closely at how we compare with other council areas, and to see if East Lothian has been treated fairly."

Mr Hampshire had pushed the case for East Lothian as a rural county being treated differently to densely populated neighbouring areas.

He said: "We have seen new cases over the last three days but they are contained in a small number of locations in the county.

"I told the Deputy First Minister that we want to work with the NHS and public health to contain the spread of the virus. To do that we need better information about where these cases are occurring and how the virus has been transmitted in those small number of locations. When we have that better understanding, we can work together and manage the risk.

"We have already proved in East Lothian in managing positive cases in our schools that we can act quickly, and protect pupils, staff and our communities."

Iain Gray (Lab), East Lothian MSP, said on Twitter following the announcement: "Very disappointing that East Lothian in Level 3 restrictions. The specific promise of early review shows Scottish Governemtn uncertain they have it right. The indicators still point to 2. However, we need to follow guidance and ensure we get to 2 ASAP."

Councillor Craig Hoy (Con), said: "The decision to place East Lothian in Level Three is an unjustified body blow to our residents and businesses.

"The Scottish Government said it would follow the data and the science. But by taking this decision they have failed to honour this commitment.

"I recognise the need to keep people safe and support the system of developing tiered restrictions. But in East Lothian, Covid-19 infection rates are significantly below other Level Three areas and Government advisors point to further progress in reducing transmissions locally. This decision appears to ignore that evidence and this is deeply regrettable.

"I am calling for an urgent review by Scottish Ministers before it is too late for many local businesses.

"Jobs will be lost and firms will go to the wall as a direct result of the SNP Government's unjustified restrictions in East Lothian."