THE lockdown rules for the Borders in Level 4 have been outlined in a joint statement from NHS Borders and the council.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Saturday (December 19) that the Borders – along with every other area on the Scottish mainland – will be moved into the highest level of restrictions from one minute past midnight on Boxing Day.

The Level 4 move will last for at least three weeks.

A press release from the region’s health board and Scottish Borders Council issued today (December 23) outlined what the Level 4 restrictions will mean for Borderers.

Social care and health services

Level 4 restrictions will have an impact on care home visits.

According to Scottish Government guidance, indoor visits to care homes should be limited to essential visits only.

Meanwhile, garden or window visits should be arranged with the home in advance. Due to the risk of the new virus strain, only one person will be able to visit and visits by children/young people should be stopped.

In the Borders, iPad devices have been provided to all SB Cares-operated care homes to enable families to keep in contact with loved ones.

Community Assistance Hubs will continue to operate, with those in need of help urged to call 0300 100 1800.

Council leader Shona Haslam said: “Our key priority continues to be ensuring that the most vulnerable people in our communities receive the support they need in these challenging times, and especially so when we move to Level 4 from Boxing Day.

“There is no doubt that the Level 4 restrictions may mean that the more vulnerable and elderly within our communities may need support and assistance once again.

“As a result, we have quickly reviewed and refreshed our plans to ensure that we have robust arrangements in place so the council and our partners, including Resilient Community groups and other local organisations, can support all those in need.”

Schools and colleges

Schools and Early Year settings will open on January 5 for invited children and children of key workers, up to S2.

All other children and young people will have an extended holiday until January 11.

Lessons will then be conducted online and remotely.

In-school arrangements will continue for the children returning to school on January 5.

Borders College announced earlier that its second term will begin on January 5 via online classes. This will then be reviewed on Friday, January 15.

All college campuses will be closed to staff and students during this period.

Local businesses

Non-essential shops and hospitality venues will be forced to shut in Level 4 – although takeaways can remain open.

Firms will not need to reapply for the Strategic Framework Business Fund, according to Mrs Haslam.

“We will also continue to support our local businesses, with no need for firms to reapply for the Strategic Framework Business Fund if they have already done so,” Mrs Haslam said.

“Our teams will review entitlement to funding with the move to Level 4 and process the relevant payments.

“I would urge any business that has not yet made an application, especially as more businesses will be eligible when we move to Level 4, to do so via as soon as possible.

Waste and recycling collection

Waste and recycling collection – and community recycling centres – will continue unaffected.

This is the case for the majority of council services.

SBC services such as social care will be “enhanced” to ensure support is provided to those who need it.

Reaction to Level 4 plans

Ralph Roberts, chief executive of NHS Borders, said: “Despite repeated warnings over the past two weeks we continue to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases locally and the impacts of that will be significant, not simply for families who have to self-isolate on Christmas Day but also on our health services.

“Whilst we continue to rollout the vaccine I cannot emphasise how important it is that everyone continues to follow the FACTS guidance and sticks to the various restrictions in place.

“Please don’t put your own twist on the rules, particularly on Christmas Day when these are being temporarily relaxed.

“Doing so puts yourself, your family, friends and colleagues at real risk, and tragically we know that the consequences can be life changing for almost anyone and catastrophic for our more vulnerable residents.”

Mrs Haslam added: “Whilst the council and our partners will do all we can to support our residents and communities, it really is critical that we all work together to minimise the impact of the virus in the first place.

"Please follow the FACTS guidance and stick to the restrictions and guidance in place.”