First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced in Scottish Parliament today that a number of restrictions will gradually be lifted starting with the capacity limits on large outdoor events. Addressing MSPs at Holyrood this afternoon, the First Minister stated that the restrictions which were imposed before Christmas have had a “positive impact” and will be lifted in a “phased way” starting with the removal of attendance limits on live outdoor events from Monday (January 17).
The First Minister said: “There are nevertheless some grounds for cautious optimism that a combination of the protective measures introduced before Christmas, responsible action on the part of the general public, and the rapid delivery of booster vaccines has had a positive impact.”
A limit of 500 people at outdoor events has been in place in Scotland since Boxing Day and this move would enable football fans to return to stadiums when the Scottish Premiership’s winter break ends next week, as well as prevent Scotland’s Six Nations rugby matches being played behind closed doors at Murrayfield.
Nicola Sturgeon also announced that the Covid certification scheme will remain in place for those and other events and venues previously covered, but with two changes. The organisers of large events of 1000 or more people should check the certification status of at least 50% of attendees, rather than the current 20%, or at least 1,000 people – whichever figure is higher.
In addition, the requirement to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purposes of Covid certification will include having a booster if the second dose was more than four months ago. The NHS Scotland Covid status app will be updated so that its QR code includes evidence of booster vaccination and it will still be possible to gain entry to events and venues covered by the certification scheme by providing proof of a recent negative lateral flow test.
The First Minister has given a provisional date of January 24 for the lifting of restrictions for indoor live events, table service in hospitality and distancing in indoor public places. Nicola Sturgeon intends to confirm the dates of further lifting of restrictions next week and stated that as these measures are lifted it will be necessary to consider whether the use of vaccine passports may have to be extended.
Plus, the requirements for face coverings and working from home will remain in place for now. For at least the immediate period ahead, the advice to limit contact with people in other households, and in particular to limit the number of households in any indoor gathering to a maximum of three, will also remain in place.
Last week, it was announced that people without symptoms who test positive on a lateral flow test will no longer need to a follow up PCR test to confirm the result. Nicola Sturgeon said this change means the current daily numbers are capturing fewer positive cases than before, consequently leading to changes in how case numbers are reported by Public Health Scotland. From Thursday (January 13), the number will be combined – to include those who test positive either with a PCR or lateral flow test.
For more information regarding Covid-19 restrictions and guidance in Scotland, head to the government website here.