North Ayrshire has escaped a move into Level 4 of coronavirus restrictions, it has been confirmed.

The First Minister announced today that North Ayrshire will remain in Level 3 meaning that essential outlets such as bars, restaurants and some shops will NOT be forced to close.

It comes after major speculation over the last few days that North Ayrshire would move into Tier 4 - the toughest restrictions included in the five-tier system, many of which would constitute a near-lockdown.

North Ayrshire entered Level 3 of coronavirus restrictions on Monday, November 2 after the Scottish Government introduced the five-tier system to deal with rising cases across the country.

In Level 3, the selling of alcohol in bars and restaurants is prohibited, curfews are in place for hospitality and household gatherings are banned.

This week, there was some indication that North Ayrshire would see a move into Level 4 following leaked documents provided to business chiefs which suggested the area was heading for semi-lockdown.

However Nicola Sturgeon stated in her announcement today that North Ayrshire will remain in Level 3 – but that East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire will now be placed in Level 4.

From November 7 to November 13 there has been 188 positive cases of coronavirus in North Ayrshire.

In the last week, between November 6-12, 11 people died as a result of COVID-19.

This brings the total to 89.

Sturgeon also said that if there was evidence that people in East or South Ayrshire were travelling to North Ayrshire, the government would be forced to consider action.