NICOLA Sturgeon today slammed the brakes on her lockdown roadmap for most parts of Scotland.
The First Minister said plans to ease places such as Edinburgh from Level 2 to Level 1 will be paused to "err on the side of caution".
By keeping 14 out of 22 local councils in the higher tier she has essentially split the country down the middle.
It is in stark contrast to Boris Johnson who sees the pandemic as a "national endeavour" and wants to unlock all of England in unison.
But today's decision in Scotland piles pressure on the PM – already facing calls from scientists – to delay June 21's Freedom Day.
Speaking in Holyrood this afternoon, Mr Sturgeon said Edinburgh and Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, North, South and East Ayrshire, North and South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Stirling did not meet the criteria to see restrictions ease.
Ms Sturgeon said some were even lucky not to be elevated into Level 3 given the raw figures – but the impact of the vaccines has meant this would not be needed.
She told MSPs "It is important to stress that this is a pause, not a step backwards.
"And Level 2 is not lockdown. It does have an impact on opening hours of pubs and restaurants and the numbers that can attend certain events."
She added: "And taking a cautious approach now – while more people get fully vaccinated – gives us the best chance of staying on the right track overall."
Ms Sturgeon blamed the spread of the Indian variant for the decision, echoing concerns from scientists the UK could be about to enter a third wave.
But she was pleased the situation in Glasgow was stabilising and announced the city would be moving from Level 3 to 2 on Saturday.
And and handful of remote places like the Shetland Islands were even given the green light to move down to Level 0.
Ms Sturgeon said: "I appreciate that today's decisions will feel like a mixed bag… the vaccines do make the outlook positive but the new variant do mean the road ahead is potentially bumpy. So caution is necessary."
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