Nicola Sturgeon said that any lockdown easing in Glasgow must be done “responsibly and safely” as she prepares to announce whether it can move down to level 2 in line with the rest of the country.

She said it would be "dangerous to ease restrictions too quickly" as the city still showing a rate that is almost three times that of Scotland.

An announcement is due tomorrow on the latest lockdown restrictions. Case numbers continue to rise in Glasgow, particularly the South Side and efforts including mass testing are underway to try to stem the increase.

The First Minister was asked at Holyrood by Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, if enough was being done to help businesses in Glasgow still closed by the restrictions.

She said again there were reasons to be optimistic but warned it would be more damaging to allow a new variant of the virus to take hold.

Glasgow Times: Douglas RossDouglas Ross

Sturgeon said: “We want to get Glasgow back on track as quickly as possible, but that must be done responsibly and safely."

She said there were 464 new positive cases identified in Scotland yesterday.

And she added: “Today, we see a reduction in hospital cases and a small reduction in intensive care unit cases. There are reasons to be optimistic but, in the interests of business and everyone else, we must continue to take careful and cautious decisions in order to get the whole country back to normality.”

Ross challenged the Scottish Government on support for business in the city.

He said: “Glasgow has been under Covid restrictions for 269 days, during which time businesses have been struggling to survive.

“Yesterday, Stuart Patrick, the chief executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said that funding grants 'fall far short', that 90 per cent of businesses will get less than they were promised and that ‘the financial support offered bears no relationship to the economic damage now being done by restrictions’.”

Sturgeon replied that it would be “dangerous” to move too quickly.

She added: “I know how long the city of Glasgow has been under restrictions because, unlike Douglas Ross, I am a resident of the city of Glasgow, and the restrictions apply to me just as they apply to others.

Glasgow Times: Nicola SturgeonNicola Sturgeon

“I know how difficult the situation is for residents and businesses across Glasgow, but I also know how dangerous it would be if we were to ease restrictions too quickly and allow a new variant of the virus—a variant that we know is spreading perhaps even more quickly than the variant that we saw at the start of the year—to take a grip again.

“That is why public health interventions—surge testing and accelerated vaccination—are under way across Glasgow. I said earlier in the week that we see cautious signs for optimism that those interventions are working.”