BANNING pubs and restaurants from serving alcohol won't help the Kingdom tackle a rise in COVID-19 cases and could see us pushed into tier 4.

That's the fear of Fife Council's co-leader, Councillor David Ross, who believes tougher restrictions on the hospitality trade have done very little to bring the virus under control.

He expressed doubts about the "effectiveness of the tier system" at the policy and co-ordination committee after the move from tier 2 to 3 on November 13.

Cllr Ross said: "I have a worry that the extra restrictions, which are mainly on pubs, restaurants and alcohol, don't actually address the reasons for the spread of the virus in Fife.

"When you look at the west of Scotland, where they've had tier 3 restrictions, it hasn't worked effectively.

"I very much hope that Fife doesn't follow the same trajectory as some of the places in the west of Scotland and gets moved into tier 4, which would be really regrettable."

He added: "We have to reinforce the message to the public that we need to follow public health guidance, to wash our hands, socially-distance and wear masks.

"That's the way we will get it back under control and hopefully have a reasonable, as far as possible, Christmas."

At the meeting, the council's chief executive, Steve Grimmond, gave an update on the impact of the pandemic.

He told councillors: "In Scotland, there are signs that the second wave of COVID is beginning to level off, however, it remains at a stubbornly high level in large parts of the Central Belt.

"In Fife, the number of cases have been rising since the middle of September, albeit from a low base, and that precipitated the move to tier 3.

"Based on the most recent figures we have, up to November 15, cases per 100,000 of the population was sitting at 144.8.

"This means that, in the last seven days in Fife, we've had approximately 540 new cases and the positivity rate, the rate of positive cases from the entire number of tests carried out, was 7.8 per cent.

"The trend in Fife is fluctuating, it may be beginning to plateau but it's too early to say that with any certainty.

"There continues to be a growing demand on health services with rising acute admissions (to hospital) and some concern over ICU demand very recently."

Mr Grimmond continued: "In relation to the social and community impact, we're coping with a significant demand on a range of fronts: crisis grant applications in Fife have been increasing, we've got growing claimant levels with Universal Credit claims rising by about a third since March and there's been rising demand for food provision.

"There have been significant numbers of situations in schools since they returned from the October holidays, 44 individual situations and a significant number of pupils requiring to isolate as a consequence.

"And attendance, in the round, is below that of last year.

"We also know there are physical and mental health concerns and there are responses from services in relation to that."

He said that unemployment was "slowly rising" with a claimant count of 6.9 per cent of the Fife population.

The chief executive added: "The furlough extension nationally is likely to blunt that increase over the coming months and the latest data I've seen says there are a significant number of Fifers, around 13,500, that are currently furloughed.

"There is significant pressure on council services in relation to responding to COVID, there are also council employees – 79 at the last count – that have had a positive COVID test and were therefore isolating."