Dumbarton and the Vale will move into the strictest lockdown measures since the spring as pandemic infection rates remain high.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed to the Scottish Parliament that West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow and other local authorities in the central belt would now face more restrictions from Friday.

Indoor gatherings have already been banned for months and travel discouraged. Now non-essential shops will shut, including pubs, hairdressers and leisure facilities.

Schools remain open despite thousands of pupils across the country self-isolating.

A further 37 people have died in the last 24 hours after testing positive for coronavirus in Scotland.

But Ms Sturgeon said that "brighter times that are now within sight" with news of vaccines finding success in trials.

Reacting to the news, Gil Paterson MSP said: "I am disappointed that we are moving into Level 4, but needs must.

"If we don’t get a handle on this virus during this two or three-week period, then it is going to have a heavy impact on Christmas and perhaps even longer.

"Although this will affect not only individuals but business also, we need to take this opportunity to all work for each other here, and come out of this period in a position that allows us to have more flexibility for a limited and careful easing of the rules at Christmas.

"We can do this by obeying the rules.”

Damon Scott, Chief Executive, Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce, warned Level 4 would make Christmas a "bleak prospect" for businesses and their families.

He told the Reporter: "We would prefer to see an emphasis on allowing businesses that can trade safely to do so, particularly where the data shows it is safe.

“Many of our businesses are working incredibly hard to protect their staff and their customers from risk of infection. Decisions need to be based on evidence and many of our businesses offer some of the safest possible environments for controlling transmission.

“This is an absolutely critical time for retail and associated businesses in the lead up to Christmas when many do the bulk of their business.

"If heightened restrictions are implemented then grants and support will need to be allocated immediately. We are concerned that current stimulus packages don’t go far enough to prevent job losses and business collapse in the face of these stringent controls."

Tom Morrison, a member of the Joint Trades Union, said: "No matter what level we are in, the pandemic has shown who really are key in our society.

"It is clear that it is the workers who keep people fed, healthy and cared for and able to access the basic goods and services we need to live.

"Claps and rainbows don't pay the bills. What these workers need is decent pay rises and a safe and secure work environment. To achieve that join and be active in a trade union."

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said the news was not welcome for many, but it was the right decision when lives are on the line.

He said: "The measures being put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 are making a difference. That's clear from the case numbers here in West Dunbartonshire and other areas which have stabilised in recent weeks.

"Whilst we're all fed-up of these restrictions, we cannot let up in the fight against this deadly virus until the high number of cases and hospitalisations drops significantly.

"The news about a vaccine gives hope we'll be able return to some sort of normality soon. By taking these tough decisions now it gives the best chance of easing restrictions ahead of Christmas and keeping our families and loved ones safe."