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Fans to be allowed back in Scotland’s stadiums as outdoor event restrictions eased

© Jane Barlow / PA WireFirst minister Nicola Sturgeon
First minister Nicola Sturgeon

Full crowds will be allowed at Scottish football grounds from Monday as Covid restrictions on outdoors events are eased.

A limit of 500 people has been in place since Boxing Day in a bid to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant.

The measures led to the Scottish Premiership winter break being brought forward, to avoid a number of fixtures effectively being played behind closed doors.

When the break ends next week, however, fans will be allowed back in.

It’s good news too for rugby fans, who will be able to attend the Six Nations when it begins in February.

Sturgeon said: “Although significant uncertainties remain in both the data and the immediate period ahead, there are nevertheless some grounds for cautious optimism that a combination of the protective measures introduced before Christmas, responsible action on the part of the general public, and the rapid delivery of booster vaccines have had a positive impact.

“As a result, I will indicate that from next week we will begin to lift the measures introduced before Christmas – but that we will do so in a phased and careful way, starting with the removal of attendance limits on live outdoor events from Monday.”

The big question: Not if or when but how will the Covid pandemic end?

Organisers of outdoor events of 1,000 or more will be asked to check vaccine passports of at least 50% of those attending, or at least 1,000 people – whichever number is higher.

From Monday, the requirement to be fully vaccinated for certification will include the booster if the second dose was more than four months ago.

The Covid status app will be updated on Thursday, she said, and events will remain accessible with proof of a recent negative lateral flow test.

Sturgeon said she hopes to ease restrictions on indoor live events from January 24, but will confirm that to parliament at a later date.

This includes the lifting of capacity limits, table service and distancing.

The numbers

The latest Covid figures show 16 deaths confirmed in the past 24 hours, with 10,392 new infections.

27.7% of new tests were positive. 1,479 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19, with 54 in intensive care.

4,393,689 people have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, 4,051 ,635 have received their second dose, and 3,130,502 have received a third dose or booster.

Sturgeon said: “While the situation – not least for the NHS – remains very challenging, there are some early indications in the data that offer some encouragement.

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

“Our central projection last month was that new infections could reach 50,000 a day by early January. This has not so far materialised.

“Instead we estimate that the total number of new infections a day in early January – not just those recorded through positive PCR tests – may have been around 30,000.”

Sturgeon said the position was still fragile and that uncertainties in the data mean the situation “is not yet as clear as we would like it to be.”

She said: “In summary, the situation in Scotland 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.”