Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon confirms restrictions on large outdoor events will be lifted from Monday

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The First Minister announced that restrictions on crowds at outdoor events will be lifted from Monday and also gave an update on the vaccine passport programme

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed restrictions on crowds at large outdoor events will be lifted on Monday 17 January.

The First Minister made the announcement in parliament today (Tuesday 11 January), and gave the green lift to allow fans back into stadiums and other outdoor venues.

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In her address, Ms Sturgeon also told of an update to the requirements for a ‘fully vaccinated’ status on the Covid Pass in Scotland.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Nicola Sturgeon has announced that restrictions on crowds at large outdoor events, such as sporting events, will be lifted from Monday 17 January
  • From Boxing Day, events of this nature in Scotland were limited to only 500 people, which led to the early winter break of the Scottish Pr Football League (SPFL)
  • From Monday, crowds will be allowed back into stadiums for SPFL games, Six Nations rugby matches and other larger outdoor events
  • In her announcement, she also said that organisers of these events will be required to make use of the Covid Pass scheme, and gave un update to requirements of the ‘fully vaccinated’ status in the passport
  • There were no new announcements on any other restrictions, leaving many hospitality business leaders disappointed after they called on the First Minister to reduce restrictions on these types of venues

What did Nicola Sturgeon say?

Ms Sturgeon began her address by stating that Scotland was currently seeing around 30,000 cases per day, which is lower than the 50,000 projected previously by the government.

She said that the data gave some “encouragement” amid the Omicr, adding: “Our central projection last month was that new infections could reach 50,000 a day by early January. This has not so far materialised.

“Instead we estimate that the total number of new infections a day in early January, not just those recorded through positive PCR tests, may have been around 30,000.

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“In other words, it is very likely that the situation we face now, though serious, would have been even more challenging without the renewed sacrifices made by people across the country over these last few weeks.”

Despite the encouraging data, the First Minister warned that the situation still remained “undoubtedly serious”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The situation in Scotland just now is undoubtedly serious but perhaps less so than it might have been, and there are also some signs that we may be starting to turn a corner.

“I have already explained the uncertainties in the data which mean that the picture is not yet as clear as we would like it to be. And, of course, we do not yet know what impact the post-Christmas return to work and school will have on the level of infection.”

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The First Minister then announced the retraction of some rules which had been put in place from Boxing Day onwards.

She said: “I can confirm today that the attendance limit of 500 at large-scale outdoor events will be lifted from Monday 17 January.

“That means, for example, that spectators will be permitted again at major outdoor sporting events, including football fixtures scheduled for early next week, and the forthcoming Six Nations rugby matches.”

However, she did confirm that the vaccination passport scheme will be key to these events going ahead smoothly, with organisers required to check 50% of the crowd or 1,000 passports, whatever number is higher.

This marks an increase from the previous 20% requirement.

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From Monday, to be classed as ‘fully vaccinated’ on a Covid Passport in Scotland, those attending will need to have received their booster dose on top of their first two jabs.

What has been the response to the announcement?

While the rollback on large outdoor event limits has been welcomed, hospitality business leaders have blasted the First Minister for not changing rules on public dining or socialising in venues such as pubs, bars or restaurants.

Since 27 December, nightclubs have been closed, with a limit of three people from three different households in hospitality settings.

Pubs and bars were also told to go back to table service only.

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The lack of change has caused frustration for many, including Leon Thompson, the executive director of UKHospitality Scotland.

He said: “Hospitality businesses needed to hear today that restrictions on them would be removed next week.”

“Restrictions, combined with messaging to avoid crowded places and to stay at home as much as possible, torpedoed hospitality’s hopes for a busy festive period.

“Many businesses were left counting the cost when another opportunity to start their recovery was snatched away.

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“After today’s statement from the First Minister, businesses and their workforce are left to wait a further week to hear when things might change for them.”

His comments were echoed by Colin Wilkinson, the managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, who said: “The Scottish Government has to consider the health of the nation as well as the economy but more clarity is required.”

How many Covid cases are there in Scotland?

As of 11 January, there were 10,392 new daily positive cases of Covid, representing 27.% of all tests taken.

There were 1,479 confirmed cases in hospital with Covid-19, with 54 people in intensive care.

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There have been an additional 16 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

How many people are vaccinated in Scotland?

As of 11 January, 4,393,689 people have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with 4,051,635 being given a second dose.

There have been 3,130,502 boosters or third doses handed out.

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