Covid in Scotland: what did Nicola Sturgeon say about working from home - and changes to social distancing?

The Scottish First Minister has announced work from home guidance will be updated to allow employees to begin a “phased” return to the workplace

Nicola Sturgeon has announced new changes around working from home guidance, social distancing rules and face mask requirements as Scotland’s continues to loosen Covid measures.

The further reduction of Covid-19 measures comes after Scotland’s temporary Omicron restrictions - which included limits on crowds at event and forced closure of nightclubs - were lifted from 24 January.

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Here’s everything you need to know about today’s announcement.

What did Nicola Sturgeon say about working from home?

The First Minister has said new work from home guidance will see a move from exclusively working from home to more of a “hybrid” pattern.

A hybrid approach is normally when an employee continues to work from home for a portion of their working week, while making their way into the workplace on the other days.

Ms Sturgeon says that the more appropriate hybrid approach will “pave the way for a phased return to the office”.

The hybrid pattern will avoid a “mass return” to the office, which could put pressure once again on Scotland’s Covid situation.

She said: “We would not expect to see a wholesale return to the office next week - indeed, given that the level of infection though falling remains high, a mass return at this stage is likely to set progress back.

“But we know there are many benefits to both employees and employers, and to the economy as a whole, in at least a partial return to the office at this stage.”

Employers will be asked to begin facilitating the hybrid approach for workers from Monday 31 January.

What did Nicola Sturgeon say about social distancing and face masks?

During her address to the Scottish Parliament, she also announced social distancing will be reduced to one meter in venues where face masks are exempt.

This includes religious services and venues where receptionist duties are carried out.

Currently, such rules require a two meter social distancing space between household groups.

The new one meter rule will be introduced from Friday 28 January.

Ms Sturgeon also said: “From Friday, face coverings will no longer be required for any adult taking part in organised activities when they are directly interacting with children under the age of five.”

Additionally, The First Minister said that rules on masks in secondary schools were being reviewed with “careful consideration”, although there were no immediate plans to scrap this rule.

She said: “On the issue of face coverings, I know young people want to see the back of them as soon as possible.

“But I also know that many young people understand and agree – especially when cases in the younger age group are rising – that face coverings do provide important protection.

“So this is a matter that requires and will receive careful consideration.”

What are the current Covid rules in Scotland?

Since Monday 24 January, Scotland’s temporary Omicron restrictions were removed.

This means there are currently no limits on the number of attendees permitted at indoor or outdoor events.

Nightclubs have also been permitted to reopen, after they were forced to close their doors on Boxing Day.

Limits on the number of household able to gather in hospitality venues have been removed and pubs, bars and restaurants are no longer required to offer table service only.

Indoor sports has also resumed for adults.

Face masks are still required in some public indoor places such as public transport.

The self isolation period for someone who has tested positive is currently seven days, but only if a negative lateral flow test is produced on day six and seven.

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