THE MAJORITY of restrictions introduced in response to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 will be lifted from Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
In an address to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon she confirmed most restrictions on hospitality would be removed following a decline in cases since the New Year.
She said the general picture was “very positive” with cases down substantially having peaked in the first week of January, and slight reductions in hospital admissions and the number of Covid patients in ICU.
Tuesday saw a further 7,752 cases reported along with 31 deaths and 1,546 remaining in hospital with recently confirmed Covid.
While delivering a largely upbeat message, Sturgeon stressed the level of the virus circulating in the community “is still high” and the health service remains under pressure after a fortnight that was “among the most difficult the NHS has ever faced”.
“We have not yet moved from the epidemic to the endemic phase of Covid, although I do hope that transition is underway,” she told MSPs, striking a notably more cautious tone than UK Government ministers in recent days.
From Monday the vast majority of restrictions applied in Scotland will be lifted. Following last week’s removal of limitations on outdoor events, restrictions on capacity and the requirement for one-metre distancing at indoor events and in hospitality settings will come to an end.
Guidance to limit private gatherings to three households will also be removed, as will restrictions on indoor contact sport involving adults.
The Scottish Government will continue to ask most people to work from home where possible, though Sturgeon said talks with employers would begin with a view to adopting a “more hybrid approach” from early February.
The Covid-19 certification scheme will still apply to large events, but ministers have decided against extending the scheme to other premises including hospitality.
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Sturgeon said that if cases began to rise sharply again, extending the scheme “may well be a more proportionate alternative to more restrictive measures”.
While from next week there will be no “fixed upper limit”, the First Minister suggested that everyone should “keep gatherings as small as circumstances allow” until the end of January to minimise the chances of being infected.
People are also advised to continue taking regular lateral flow tests prior to meeting up with others.
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