THE depute leader of East Lothian Council is “hopeful” that coronavirus restrictions in East Lothian will be relaxed when the First Minister makes an announcement later today (Tuesday).

Yesterday (Monday), Nicola Sturgeon told reporters that one council, “maybe more”, was being considered for moving from Level 3 to Level 2.

An announcement will be made later today confirming if that is the case and Councillor Norman Hampshire has outlined hopes that East Lothian could make the move.

Mr Hampshire spoke at yesterday’s meeting of Dunbar Community Council and highlighted ongoing discussions with Public Health Scotland.

He said: “Obviously, at the start of the process, [coronavirus infection rates in] East Lothian [were] slightly high.

“However, work has been getting done to control the virus within schools and the community, and businesses have been doing everything they can to operate safely.

“We have seen a significant reduction in infection rates here in East Lothian.

“The last meeting we had with a minister, there was a recognition that the work we are doing is having an impact and figures are coming down.

“They wanted us to show we could keep it at that level and have gone through another week and continued to keep recording low levels.”

The latest seven-day rate of infection in East Lothian is currently listed as 58.8 cases per 100,000 of the population.

In comparison, Midlothian’s case rate sits at 54.3 cases per 100,000 and the Scottish Borders at 53.7 cases per 100,000.

Mr Hampshire said that Public Health Scotland was indicating it would be comfortable with East Lothian moving into Level 2.

However, he stressed that decision lay in the hands of the Government and that any change would still see a number of restrictions in place.

Speaking yesterday evening, the Dunbar and East Linton ward member said: “Level 2 is still with a lot of restrictions but it allows some businesses to operate slightly differently to Level 3, mainly hospitality where food is provided.

“They can do it until 10pm, people can have an evening meal and that is where a lot of hospitality make the main part of their business.

“They still have to operate with social distancing, masks and hand cleansing.

“They would have different operating hours.

“Hopefully we will move to Level 2.

“The science says we can but we need to wait for the decision taken by the Government – they are the final players in what tier we are in.

“We are hopeful but need to wait till [today's announcement].”