Fans to return to Scottish stadiums next week

Restrictions on large outdoor events in Scotland, including football matches and concerts, are to be lifted from next Monday

The move will allow fans to return to stadiums when the Scottish Premiership’s winter break ends.

It will also avoid Scotland’s Six Nations rugby matches having to be played behind closed doors at Murrayfield next month.

A limit of 500 people at outdoor events has been in place since Boxing Day.

Premiership football teams started their winter break early after the crowd limit was imposed, with many fans believing the sport was unfairly singled out by the restrictions.

Large Hogmanay events, including the famous street party in Edinburgh, were also cancelled.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that the limit of 500 people would be removed from Monday 17 January – which will allow Celtic’s match with Hibernian on that day to be played before a full crowd at Celtic Park.

Event organisers will now have to check the vaccine certification of at least 50% of attendees, rather than the current 20%, or at least 1,000 people – whichever figure is higher.

From Monday, the definition of “fully vaccinated” for the purpose of vaccine passports will include having a booster if the second dose was more than four months ago.

And the government will also continue to consider whether the vaccine passport scheme should be extended to more venues.

Restrictions on indoor events and venues will remain in place until at least 24 January, when Ms Sturgeon said she hoped to be able to lift them too.

People will also still be required to wear face coverings in indoor public places, to work from home when possible, and to only meet indoors in groups of up to three households.

The measures were imposed by the Scottish government in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, with the first minister saying there were now signs that the country was “starting to turn the corner” after a huge spike in cases.

Limits of 100 people were placed on indoor standing events or 200 if they were seated, while nightclubs had to close and pubs and restaurants had to bring back table service for alcohol and a one-metre distance between different groups of people.

But the latest Scottish government Covid report showed that average daily cases in Scotland (2,824 per one million population in the week to 6 January) were higher than in England (2,615 per one million), which has fewer Covid restrictions.

Original article published 11.01.22 on the BBC News website

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