ALMOST half of all Scots will be forced into a “short and sharp” lockdown on Friday – as Nicola Sturgeon resorts to tough action to salvage any chance of a normal Christmas. 

Glasgow, along with 10 other local authority areas will be placed in level 4 of the Scottish Government’s tiered strategy, the highest level, for three weeks. 

Pubs, restaurants, cafes, non-essential shops as well as gyms, hairdressers and beauty services will be forced to close their doors until Friday 11 December – amid a warning from the hospitality sector that thousands of jobs have been put on the line. 

Ministers will also enshrine a travel ban between areas in different tiers in law from Friday – but police will “not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks” and officers will “only use enforcement as a last resort where there is a clear breach or legislation”. 

The First Minister confirmed that Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian will all move into level 4 from Friday – impacting an estimated 2.3 million Scots. 

East Lothian and Midlothian will be moved from level 3 to level 2 from next Tuesday. 

Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Dundee, Fife, Perth & Kinross and Angus will all remain in level 3 - with Ms Sturgeon stressing she was "hopeful that they will move to level 2 soon" if things improve. 

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway and Argyll & Bute will all stay in level 2 while Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Moray and the Highlands will remain in level 1. 

Ms Sturgeon gave a glimmer of hope amid the gloom – stressing that the temporary but stricter measures could result in "a quicker route out of level 3" - with areas potentially being shifted straight into level 2 if significant improvements are made when the three-week lockdown expires. 

But the First Minister warned that in all areas moved to level 4, “there are grounds for continued and significant concern”. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus Scotland: Edinburgh 'staying in tier three'

She added: “In the seven days up to Friday, Scotland as a whole had just over 140 new cases of Covid per 100,000 people. 

“All of the areas moving to level 4 were above that level - ranging from West Lothian, with a rate of 158 cases per 100,000, to Glasgow with 277.” 

In tier four, takeaway services can operate as normal despite hospitality businesses being closed. While non-essential shops must shut, click and collect, online shopping and outdoor retails including garden centres and outdoor markets can remain open. 

The First Minister insisted that the three-week lockdown will give a greater chance of suppressing the virus ahead of Christmas and the winter period. 

She said: “I know people are frustrated that other restrictions have remained in place longer than planned. 

“But level 4 is intended to be short and sharp. And in this situation, it is specifically intended to have an impact in advance of Christmas and the most challenging winter period.” 

Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader, Ruth Davidson, said she would "reluctantly" accept the tough measures are needed but warned "it would be deeply regrettable if these restrictions were to be stretched any further, leaving people in limbo before Christmas and businesses unable to plan". 

As well as the UK Government’s furlough scheme and business grants being made available to traders impacted by the lockdown, the Scottish Government has set up a “£30 million discretionary fund” which will allow councils to “provide additional support for businesses where they consider that necessary or justified”, Ms Sturgeon added – pointing to taxi drivers or businesses in supply chains. 

But business leaders have warned that the move into level 4 could spell the end for some traders – putting thousands of hospitality jobs on the line and permanent closures becoming a reality. 

Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland policy chairman, warned the lockdown will “shut the doors of thousands of smaller Scottish firms at their busiest time of year” and will lead to “despair and anger amongst independent shopkeepers, publicans, restaurateurs, barbers and beauticians”. 

He added: “Ministers must provide a cast iron guarantee to our small business community that they will be given an opportunity to trade normally ahead of Christmas, especially when many big businesses face few operating restrictions. 

“Scotland’s eventual recovery from this crisis will be reliant upon local businesses, but the pandemic has taken a disproportionate economic toll on neighbourhood firms. We’d ask ministers to consider whether every measure is necessary, especially those hitting independent shops.” 

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has warned that 50,000 pubs jobs could be lost – estimating that two thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under in the coming weeks. 

READ MORE: Tier 4 means pubs and restaurants 'could axe thousands of jobs'

STLA managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said hospitality is “a sector in crisis with hundreds of businesses facing permanent closure and thousands of jobs hanging in the balance” adding that “for some, the damage is already irreparable”. 

From Friday, Scots living in level 3 or level 4 areas will be breaking the law if they travel outside their own local authority level “except for certain essential purposes”, Ms Sturgeon said. 

Those living in other parts of Scotland must not travel to level 3 or level 4 areas or risk there are also be thrown into lockdown. 

There “must be no non-essential travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK”, Ms Sturgeon added.