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Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon scraps Omicron restrictions as strain peak passes

Restrictions enforced to slow the spread of coronavirus will be lifted as it is thought the Omicron variant has passed its peak, the first minister has announced.

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed limits on numbers at indoor live events, as well as table service in hospitality and one-metre social distancing in indoor public places, will be scrapped from Monday.

The rise in cases of Omicron peaked in the first week in January and the country is now past the worst of the wave, Ms Sturgeon said during a coronavirus briefing.

‘Significant fall’ in positive cases

She says data for the past 13 days has shown “a significant fall in the number of new positive cases”.

The average number of positive PCR tests has plummeted from nearly 13,000 a day to just over 4,600.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Yesterday the limit on attendances at outdoor public events was lifted.

“The remaining statutory measures introduced in response to Omicron are as follows: limits on attendance at indoor public events; the requirement for one-metre physical distancing between different groups in indoor public places; the requirement for table service in hospitality premises serving alcohol on the premises and the closure of nightclubs.

Scotland has ‘turned a corner’

“Given the improving situation – and as I said last week we hoped to be able to do – I can confirm today that all of these measures will be lifted from next Monday.”

The first minister added that she feels the country has “turned the corner in the Omicron wave”.

However, she is still urging people to wear face coverings in indoor public places and on public transport, and work from home advice continues for now – though that could change from the start of February.

The Covid passport scheme has also been altered, meaning the requirement to be fully vaccinated will include having a booster shot if a person’s second jab was more than four months ago.

The Scottish Government is considering how it can add proof of Covid boosters, or third doses, to its passport-style app
The Covid vaccine passport scheme has changed.

It will still be possible to gain admission to events and venues covered by the scheme by providing proof of a negative lateral flow test taken in the last 48 hours.

The latest figures show there were 7,752 cases across Scotland through PCR testing, with 1,546 hospital patients having had a recent positive test – and 59 people in ICU.

It means a total of 10,093 people have died in Scotland within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.

We still need to play our part in helping to slow the spread of the virus

Ms Sturgeon says despite the progress, Covid-19 still presents a “very challenging position” with the NHS remaining under “significant pressure”.

After her briefing, the first minister added: “Although we can be cautiously optimistic about our current position, we all still need to play our part in helping to slow the spread of the virus.

“The key ways in which all of us can do that include getting vaccinated as soon as you can, limiting and prioritising contacts that matter the most to you and taking lateral flow tests when you are planning to see other people.

“All of this makes a difference and is the reason why we have been able to start lifting restrictions and can look ahead to a much better spring and summer.”

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