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Coronavirus / ‘Reason to be optimistic’, according to first minister – but most measures stay in place

First minister Nicola Sturgeon in parliament on Tuesday.

RESTRICTIONS on large outdoor events will be lifted as of Monday (17 January), first minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed during a statement to parliament on Tuesday.

Protective measures on indoor live events, hospitality and indoor public places will remain in place for at least another week. A further update to parliament will be made next Tuesday.

Sturgeon said the measures implemented at Boxing Day in a bid to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 had been successful in reducing infection rates.

And she urged people to continue to restrict their socialising and use lateral flow tests when seeing people from other households.

Sturgeon had to apologise to parliament after details of today’s announcement was leaked to the national media and confirmed that an investigation into the matter will be carried out.

“There is reason to be optimistic that protective measures, the behavioural response of the general public and the vaccine programme have helped mitigate, so some extent,  the impact of the Omicron wave,” she told parliament.

“For instance, our projection last month was that infections could reach 50,000 a day by early January. This has so far not materialised. Instead, we estimate that the total number of new infections a day may have been around 30,000.

“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 past few weeks.”

The first minister added: “The baseline measures that were in place before the emergence of Omicron such as the requirement to wear face coverings in indoor public places, and to work from home where possible will remain in place for now; so too, for at least the immediate period ahead, will be the advice to the general public to try and 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.

“At a time when one in 20 of us could have the virus the risk of becoming infected when we mix with others is at this moment in time a significant one. So cutting back on contact where possible and prioritising those who are most important to us help reduce that risk.

“And if we make sure that there are no more than three households in any indoor gathering we do have and take lateral flow tests before we go, we further reduce the risk.”

Sturgeon further announced that from Thursday Public Health Scotland will in addition to reporting the number of people testing positive for Covid through a PCR test also include a combined figure of PCR and lateral flow test results.

The first minister urged people to register any lateral flow tests carried out at home through the covidtest.scot website.