Scotland Omicron restrictions to end on Monday, says Nicola Sturgeon

First minister ‘confident we have turned a corner’

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 18 January 2022 14:46
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Nicola Sturgeon ‘cautiously optimistic’ amid calls to end Covid restrictions

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that all Covid restrictions brought in to deal with the Omicron wave in Scotland will be lifted from next Monday – including curbs on the hospitality sector.

The temporary limits on attendance at indoor events, mandatory table service in pubs and restaurants and the closure of nightclubs will all be scrapped from 24 January.

“I can confirm that all of these measures will be lifted from next Monday,” said Ms Sturgeon.

She also announced that the guidance asking people to stick to a three-household limit on indoor social gatherings would end on Monday.

The first minister said she was “confident we have turned a corner on the Omicron wave” in Scotland. “We are now on the downward slope of cases,” the SNP leader told the Scottish parliament.

She told MSPs: “A combination of booster vaccinations, the willingness of the public to adapt their behaviour to help stem transmission, and the temporary protective measures introduced in December, has helped blunt the impact of the Omicron wave.”

However, Ms Sturgeon said that “throwing all caution to the wind at this stage would be a mistake”, warning that Scotland could still see an uptick in case in the next few weeks.

She asked employers to make sure people could continue to work from home wherever possible – saying the Scottish government would work with businesses about a “hybrid” return to offices and other workplaces from February.

Her comments came as the Scottish Tories called for the scrapping of almost all coronavirus restrictions from the end of January.

The Scottish Tory party called for mask-wearing in schools to be dropped and work-from-home guidance to be dropped. Douglas Ross’s party also said self-isolation rules should be “gradually phased out” over a period of months.

Ms Sturgeon also announced the Scottish government would not be expanding controversial vaccine certification scheme into new venues. The SNP chief said “extending certification would not be proportionate at this stage”.

Adults in Scotland currently need to show that they have had both doses of the vaccine before they are allowed entry to certain large events like nightclubs.

Some of the Scottish government recently-imposed rules have already changed, with the limit on crowds at football matches and other large outdoor events lifted on Monday.

Ms Sturgeon announced that Scotland has recorded another 31 coronavirus deaths, as well as 7,752 more cases of people being infected with the virus, in her statement to Holyrood.

Meanwhile, health secretary Savid Javid has said he is “cautiously optimistic” that remaining Covid regulations in England can be “substantially reduced” next week.

The government is set to review its so-called Plan B measures – including mandatory mask wearing in schools, on public transport and at indoor events – on 26 January.

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