Covid Update: Relaxation of restrictions for large outdoor events
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The First Minister has confirmed today that some restrictions which were in place around events are to be lifted as of Monday.
She said: "The increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant is still causing very high levels of infection here in Scotland, across the UK and in many cases around the world.
"However, while the situation - not least for the NHS - does remains very challenging, there are some early indications in the data that offer some encouragement.
"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.
"Further, while we need to be cautious in our interpretation of the daily case numbers at this stage we can see from these and also from hospital data, some early indications that the situation might be starting to improve."
She continued: "While the number of people in hospital with Covid has continued to increase over the past week - putting significant additional pressure on the NHS - there are signs that the rate of increase may be starting to slow down.
"It is important to note however that number of people with Covid in intensive care has increased more rapidly in the past week than in previous weeks.
"However this is likely to reflect the time lag between people becoming hospitalised, and them requiring intensive care.
"So in summary, the situation 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."
She explained: "We will begin to lift the protective measures announced before Christmas from Monday but we will do that in a phased way that will allow us to form in the days ahead a clearer picture of the trends in infections and the associated impacts.
" I can confirm today that the attendance limit of 500 at large-scale outdoor events will be lifted from Monday, January 17.
"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.
"The Covid certification scheme will remain in place for these and other events and venues previously covered, but with two important changes.
"Firstly, our guidance will now stipulate that the organisers of large events of 1000 or more people should check the certification status of at least 50 per cent of attendees, rather than the current 20 per cent or at least 1000 people - whichever figure is highest.
"And, second, from Monday the requirement to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purposes of Covid certification will include having a booster if the second dose was more than four months ago.
"The NHS Scotland Covid status app for domestic use will be updated from Thursday so that its QR code includes evidence of booster vaccination.
"It will also be possible to order updated paper and PDF copies of vaccination status, which are now valid for three months.
"And it will still be possible to gain admission to events and venues covered by the certification scheme by providing proof of a recent negative lateral flow test."
The next review of the data will take place a week today and it is hoped that this will allow lifting of the other protective measures - limits on indoor live events, table service in hospitality and distancing in indoor public places - from January 24.