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The 5 changes you need to know as Nicola Sturgeon lifts emergency Covid rules

Nicola Sturgeon eased Covid restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon further eased Covid rules with restrictions on pubs scrapped, a return to indoor sports and household socialising guidance relaxed.

The First Minister said virus cases are now falling rapidly with the Omicron wave passing its peak in early January.

Current hospitality rules will be eased from 5am on January 24, following earlier decisions to allow football crowds to return to stadiums.

Here’s all you need to know from the First Minister’s Covid briefing in the Scottish Parliament today.

1. Pub and club rules lift on January 24

Nightclubs will be able to reopen from next Monday.

Late-night dance venues had been forced to shut due to attendance caps and one-metre distancing rules were put in place after Christmas.

People from different households will no longer need to stay apart from each other in hospitality settings and table service won’t be mandatory either.

SNP rivals had criticised the first minister for the measures and warned they could harm businesses.

If we keep gatherings as small as our circumstances allow, we will reduce our chances of getting infected.”

Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister insisted they were vital to stop the spread of Omicron – but said they could be ditched now as cases drop.

She said businesses will still be expected to take customers’ details on entry so they can be traced if necessary.

Scottish Labour leader claimed “too many businesses are teetering on the brink” after the latest wave of Covid restrictions.

2. Sports rules relaxed

The Scottish Government’s Covid measures meant amateur indoor contact sports was temporarily banned.

But Ms Sturgeon confirmed the playing restrictions would also be lifted from next Monday.

Outdoor non-professional sports contests had been allowed to continue due to the virus being less prevalent when people are outside.

3. Household gathering guidance ditched

When introducing new rules last month, Ms Sturgeon had urged Scots to limit household gatherings indoors to three households.

Unlike earlier in the pandemic, her request was “guidance”, not law.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in parliament before the Omicron variant hit.

The First Minister has now confirmed the official government guidance was being relaxed.

However, she continued to urge caution for the rest of January.

She said: “If we all continue to keep gatherings as small as our circumstances allow, we will reduce our chances of getting infected.”

4. Vaccine passport scheme stays

The First Minister revealed there would be no significant expansions to Covid passports – even though she defended the system.

Large venues and clubs will still be expected to check visiting punters have been fully vaccinated when they reopen.

Announcing one minor change to the scheme, the SNP leader said nightclubs will no longer be able to avoid checking Covid passports by putting out more tables.

Vaccine passports won’t be extended.

The government decided not to extend the scheme over uncertainties it would be beneficial with infections already falling.

The SNP leader continued to resist calls from Tory rivals to scrap virus passports completely.

Shadow health minister Sandesh Gulhane said: “Nicola Sturgeon should accept that this scheme is a dud and scrap it altogether.”

5. Self-isolation rules unchanged

It was confirmed that there will be no changes to current self-isolation rules.

At the moment Scots have to quarantine for seven days when they test positive for the bug if they record two negative tests.

Calls have been made to further reduce the required isolation period to five days – but the first minister believes the current time is appropriate.

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