NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of leaving 14 councils and 2.96 million people across Scotland “in limbo”. 

The Scottish Conservatives criticised the First Minister after she announced swathes of central Scotland will remain in Level Two coronavirus restrictions. 

Ms Sturgeon said the country is at a "key and difficult moment" in the pandemic and must still "err on the side of caution".

Glasgow, which had tougher rules than the rest of Scotland, will move to Level Two at the weekend.

In addition, Edinburgh and Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, the three Ayrshire councils, North and South Lanarkshire and Clackmannanshire and Stirling will all stay in Level Two.

But Highland, Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, East and West Lothian, West Dunbartonshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders will move to Level One.

Meanwhile, Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles – alongside smaller and more remote islands – will move to Level Zero.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the decision to keep whole areas in Level Two was a “disappointing setback” when people are already “at the end of their tether”.

His party previously argued that Scotland should move to Level One from Monday, June 7, with a new approach of targeted interventions where local outbreaks occur.

Mr Ross said more emphasis had to be placed on the impact of restrictions on “businesses, jobs and people’s mental and physical health". 

He said: “I had hoped to say that today’s statement was, at least broadly, a move in the right direction.

“But for people all over the country – in 14 council areas – this is a disappointing setback.

“Half of the country will move forward, the rest remains stuck in limbo, with no clear idea of when restrictions will ease.

“We understand the need for caution. But we also believe more emphasis needs to be placed on the impact of these restrictions on businesses, jobs, and people’s mental and physical health.

“The Scottish Conservatives believe a more local approach is necessary, with targeted interventions to tackle local outbreaks, instead of sweeping measures.

“The approach of council-wide restrictions is now out of date. It was designed before we had an effective, successful vaccination scheme that has now delivered 3.2 million first jags.

“Keeping whole councils or cities in level two is not a targeted, local approach.

“It will be a real let down to people across Scotland that Nicola Sturgeon has refused to consider a more targeted approach, instead of council and city-wide restrictions.

“There will be even more raw frustration at the lack of answers from the First Minister on extra business support or speeding up the vaccine scheme where outbreaks occur.

“When hospitalisations are so low and there appears to be no immediate risk of our NHS being overwhelmed, the public deserves more information about the ‘severe pressure’ that Nicola Sturgeon claims the NHS could be under imminently.

"After a year of disruption to their lives, people really are at the end of their tether. Slamming on the brakes of Scotland’s exit from restrictions is the wrong move.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said more must be done to ensure vaccine uptake is encouraged.

He also called for walk-in vaccination centres for the over 18s, the mass roll-out of PCR tests, increased support for local businesses and greater access to isolation support grants for hotspot areas.

He said: “This news will come as a relief to my fellow Glaswegians but it is clear that much more needs to be done in Glasgow and across Scotland.

“We need an expansion of PCR testing and walk-in clinics across the country.

“Families and businesses across Scotland need support and a degree of certainty from the government and that is what Labour will continue to fight for.”