LABOUR politicians in East Lothian have said they are "disappointed" after the county was placed in Level 3 of the Scottish Government's new coronavirus restrictions.

However, they said they were encouraged by the prospect of restrictions in East Lothian potentially being relaxed in the near future.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, depute council leader, had been involved in last-minute talks with Deputy First Minister John Swinney in a bid to see East Lothian moved to the less restrictive Level 2.

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today that the county would be placed at Level 3 for the time being, despite a rate of infection more than three times lower than local authorities in the west which have been placed at the same level, including Glasgow and North and South Lanarkshire.

Reacting to the announcement, Mr Hampshire said: "Today, the First Minister indicated that two councils – Edinburgh and East Lothian – while being put in Level 3, are close to Level 2. The decision will be reviewed in a week.

"I am pleased that the FM has listened to my representations on behalf of communities and businesses across East Lothian. With that hope of progress, we must all continue to play our part in beating Covid-19 by following the public health guidance.

"While I am disappointed by today’s announcement, East Lothian Council, working in partnership with public health and Police Scotland, will continue to encourage, and where appropriate, enforce the restrictions at Level 3 to stop further increases in Covid-19 cases.

"I am aware of the distress this decision will cause many local businesses and their employees, but be assured that we will continue to make the case for East Lothian to be moved down to Level 2.

"I would encourage any business or employee who is affected by this decision to contact the council to see if they qualify for a business support grant or hardship payments."

Iain Gray (Lab), East Lothian's MSP said: “The decision to put East Lothian in Level 3 restrictions from Monday is very disappointing, particularly for businesses and employees in the hospitality and tourism sector.

"While we had suspected the Government would not budge, its rationale for placing the county in Level 3 is hard to fathom.

"Most of the indicators point to Level 2 but we now find ourselves in the same tier as places like Lanarkshire and Glasgow with infection rates several times higher than ours.

“The First Minister's specific mention of an early review for East Lothian suggests the Government’s decision here was on a knife edge and could hopefully still change sooner rather later.

"In the meantime, we all need to keep following the guidance to help ensure we can suppress the infection rate and try to move into Level 2 as quickly as possible.”