Restrictions on indoor events and hospitality will be scrapped from Monday (24 January) and vaccine passports will not be extended

18 Jan 2022

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Restrictions on indoor events and hospitality which have been in place since Boxing Day will be scrapped from Monday (24 January), Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Scotland’s First Minister described a “much more positive” situation in Scotland in an update to MSPs on Tuesday, pointing to a reduction in case numbers and hospitalisations which mean the Omicron wave is past its peak.

The Scottish Government has decided not to extend the Covid certification scheme to further venues, Ms Sturgeon said, following an announcement last week that this was being considered. Ministers will also engage with businesses about a phased return to the office from the beginning of February.

The advice to limit social contact to three households will also be removed from Monday. However, the First Minister asked people to remain cautious and continue to keep gatherings “as small as your circumstances allow”.

The situation in Scotland is much less severe than could have been expected, Ms Sturgeon said, adding that she hopes the country is once again entering a “calmer phase of the epidemic”. She added: “That then allows us to consider the adaptations we might need to make to build our resilience and manage the virus in a less restrictive way in future as we do move into an endemic phase.”

The Scottish Government has begun work on a new strategic framework for managing the Covid pandemic, to be published in the coming weeks. But despite this “renewed optimism”, Ms Sturgeon warned the health service remains under “significant pressure”.

“Although cases are now falling, the NHS remains under acute pressure and staff absences are still causing some disruption across the economy and critical services,” she said, adding that the past couple of weeks have likely been “among the most difficult the NHS has ever faced”.

If circumstances change and cases rise again, Ms Sturgeon warned an extension to the Covid certification scheme may once again be considered.

“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,” she said.

“We will, of course, reconsider this should circumstances – and therefore the balance of judgement – change in any significant way.

“If cases were to start to rise very sharply again, extension of certification may well be a more proportionate alternative to other, more restrictive measures.

“However, our conclusion today – given the improving situation – is that extending certification would not be proportionate at this stage.”

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