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Scotland Covid rules update: what did Nicola Sturgeon say today - and when will easing of restrictions start?

The First Minister will repeal all Omicron restrictions from Monday, however the baseline Covid restrictions will still be in place

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that all of Scotland’s temporary Omicron restrictions are set to be relaxed from next week.

Restrictions on large indoor events, nightclubs and hospitality venues affected by the announcement.

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It comes after Ms Sturgeon was under pressure from business leaders and opposition parties to reduced temporary Omicron restrictions, most of which had been in place from Boxing Day.

What did Nicola Sturgeon say in her Covid update?

Ms Sturgeon began her announcement by delivering good news concerning Omicron data.

The First Minister said that Scotland was now on a “downward slope” in terms of Omicron cases, with the peak of the wave now over.

She added that despite a “significant fall” in infections, the NHS still remained under “acute pressure”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Taking all of this into account, and triangulating the various sources of data, allows us to say with some confidence that the rise in cases driven by Omicron peaked in the first week of January and that we are now on the downward slope of this wave of cases.”

In light of this, the First Minister gave the green light for large indoor events to no longer have limits on crowds, as well as the reopening of venues such as nightclubs.

The requirement for hospitality to only offer table service will also be scrapped, as well as advice on people only meeting three other households indoors being removed.

Indoor contact sports will also be able to resume.

However, Ms Sturgeon warned Scots that they should still take caution in certain situations as the virus is still spreading.

She said: “However, it is important to stress this point: notwithstanding the improving situation, the level of Covid infection circulating in the community is still high. So to minimise the risk of us getting the virus it would be sensible for all of us to remain cautious in our social interactions at this stage.”

When will restrictions be relaxed?

The temporary Omicron restrictions will be relaxed in Scotland from 24 January.

What rules will still be in place?

Although she announced that temporary restrictions would be scaled back, the First Minister confirmed that baseline Covid restrictions will continue.

This includes the use of face coverings in places such as public transport and hospitality venues.

The vaccine passport scheme will continue to be in place for large indoor and outdoor events such as those held in sports stadiums and nightlife venues such as nightclubs.

Large events are required to check the vaccine passport of at least 50% of attendees or at least 1,000 people, whichever number is higher.

Since Monday 17 January, to be classed as ‘fully vaccinated’ on a vaccine passport in Scotland, you must have had your booster shot.

Ms Sturgeon confirmed that this scheme would not, at this time, be extended to include more venues, adding: “Given that cases are now falling quite rapidly, and the current wave is receding, we decided that we will not at this stage extend the Covid certification scheme to other premises.”

Scots will continue to be asked to work from home where possible, however the First Minister confirmed that this rule was now under review in collaboration with businesses, with a look towards a more hybrid way of working from February.

Rules on self isolation for those who tested positive will also continue; the time period for self isolation was cut to just seven days if a negative lateral flow test is taken on day six and seven.

How many Covid cases are there in Scotland?

As of Tuesday 18 January, there were 7,752 additional daily cases confirmed in Scotland, with the number of people in hospital with the virus falling by 21 to 1,546.

There were a total of 42 people in intensive care with Covid-19, with 31 deaths in the pasty 24 hours confirmed.

How many Covid vaccines have been administered in Scotland?

As of Tuesday 18 January, there have been 4,401,034 first doses of a Covid-19 administered in Scotland.

There have been 4,090,242 second doses administered.

The First Minister continued to urge people to get boosted.

She said: “There are still more than 600,000 people over the age of 18 who are eligible for a booster, but haven’t yet had it. And there are hundreds of thousands more who have not yet had a first or second dose.

“So I would encourage anyone who falls into one of these categories to make an appointment as soon as possible, or go to a drop-in clinic.”

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