NICOLA Sturgeon has unveiled the five-tier lockdown system that will guide Scotland's response to the virus over the coming months. 

The First Minister outlined details of the changes as she insisted progress has been made in tackling the virus.

She said: "Never forget that we will get through this."

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government did not envisage returning to a situation as severe as the first lockdown imposed back in late March.

HeraldScotland: Camley's Cartoon: "Christmas has been cancelled..."Camley's Cartoon: "Christmas has been cancelled..."

The new set of restrictions follows the introduction of a similar three-tiered system in England by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

If approved at Holyrood next week, the measures will come into force in Scotland on Monday, November 2.

Ms Sturgeon said the intention is to keep schools open at all levels, with necessary safety measures in place.

She said the changes are required to help Scotland live with coronavirus, and can apply to specific council areas or nationwide if necessary.

That means areas with lower levels of the virus do not require to be under the same restrictions as areas with higher infection rates, she said.

Different towns within council areas could even have different rules.

The new lockdown system runs from level 0, which is as close to normal as possible without an effective treatment or vaccine, to level 4.

The latter would see stringent restrictions closer to a full lockdown, such as the closure of bars and restaurants and a ban on tourism.

Non-essential travel would not be allowed into or out of level 4 areas. 

If necessary, there would be limits on travel placed on residents, or a requirement to stay at home.

Non-essential retail would be closed, although click and collect would be permitted. 

Gyms would be shut and there would be no use of public transport permitted, except for essential purposes.

However six people from two households would still be able to meet outdoors, and there would be no limit on outdoor exercise for individuals.

Ms Sturgeon said the new system allows the Scottish Government to take a national approach if required. 

But it also allows for regional variations.

She said the Scottish Government will set out which area is expected to go into which level next week.

Ms Sturgeon said: "Level 0 is broadly comparable to the position we reached in August when the virus was very supressed in Scotland but still a threat.

"At this level we would be able to meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open, albeit with safety measures in place.

"Level 1 sees slightly more restrictions, household meetings would reduce to six people from two households but there would still be a reasonable degree of normality overall.

"Levels 2 and 3 are intended to apply at times such as now when transmission is higher and rising.

"Level 2 entails restrictions broadly similar to those currently in place just now outside the central belt, so limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people's homes.

"Level 3 is broadly similar to the tougher restrictions which currently apply across the central belt, with much of hospitality being closed completely.

"There are however some key differences, for example we envisage restaurants being able to be open at least partially in Level 3."

She said levels 2 and 3 would be intended to apply for relatively short periods of time to bring transmission under control.

She added: "Level 4, the highest level, which of course we would not use unless absolutely necessary, would apply when transmission rates are, or are threatening to become, very high with corresponding pressure on the NHS and perhaps the risk of the NHS being overwhelmed.

"The restrictions at Level 4 are closer to a full lockdown, for example non-essential shops would have to close.

"However even under Level 4 restrictions, six people from up two households could still meet outdoors, there would be no limit on outdoor exercise for individuals, and we would seek to keep manufacturing and construction businesses open, albeit with safety measures in place.

"We do not envisage returning to a situation as severe as the first lockdown imposed back in late March."

Ms Sturgeon outlined a support package for businesses impacted by restrictions.

She unveiled the new system as Scotland recorded 18 coronavirus deaths and 1,401 positive cases in the past 24 hours.

However Ms Sturgeon said the infection rate appears to be slowing.

She stressed Scotland is "not back at square one", and the framework is intended to build on the progress made in tackling the virus.

The levels will be reviewed on a weekly basis, the First Minister said.

However the framework makes clear that once set, levels are likely to be in place for two to four weeks at least.

Earlier this month, temporary restrictions were brought in across Scotland and although they were initially set to end on October 25, these have now been extended until the new tiered system comes into effect.

Since October 9, bars and restaurants in five health board areas - Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley - have been forced to close for all but takeaways.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes elsewhere in Scotland are only allowed to serve indoor customers between 6am and 6pm with a ban on alcohol inside, although alcoholic drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.