PEOPLE are being urged to shop local and support their high streets as East Lothian prepares to go into Level Three restrictions next week.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, depute council leader, had tried to persuade the Scottish Government to put the county into the less restrictive Level Two as new rules are introduced on a local authority area level.

However, despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledging that East Lothian “in particular” could move to the lower level within a week of the new five-tier system being introduced from Monday, she resisted local calls to treat the county differently to the rest of the Lothians.

Mr Hampshire urged people to follow the guidelines, which comes into effect from 6am on Monday, and pointed out that cases in East Lothian were on the increase.

The county saw more than 100 positive cases confirmed in the week up to Tuesday, taking its rate to 99 cases per 100,000 people – higher than Edinburgh and on a par with neighbouring Midlothian, which has a rate of 99.5 cases per 100,000.

Mr Hampshire said: “Whilst East Lothian currently has a lower infection rate than many other areas across the country, we are also aware that unfortunately this rate is rising.

“Keeping the virus level low is essential as East Lothian is part of the Lothian Health Board area and any increase in the virus within East Lothian could result in further pressure on our local NHS services at a time of the year when they are in most demand.

“East Lothian Council will continue to work with health colleagues to gather required data that will identify any trends that will allow East Lothian to move into a less restrictive tier when appropriate.

“In the meantime, each of us, local residents and businesses, must continue to follow health advice, including the wearing of face coverings where appropriate, avoiding crowded places, cleaning hands regularly, keeping to 2m social distancing, and self-isolating and seeking a test if experiencing symptoms such as loss of taste or smell and developing a new cough.

“I would also advise local residents to shop locally as much as possible, which helps support our high streets and also minimises travel outwith the county.

“These are unprecedented and tough times but following health guidance will help us all out of the current restrictions.”