Restrictions on live outdoor events in Scotland will be removed from Monday, Nicola Sturgeon has announced, as she said “there are some signs we are starting to turn a corner” on the Omicron wave of the pandemic.
Attendees at outdoor events have been limited to 500 since Boxing Day.
Removing the restrictions will enable fans to attend Six Nations rugby matches and Scottish Premiership football games, following the adjusted winter break.
Speaking at the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said lifting further restrictions will be considered next week but the limits on indoor events, table service in hospitality and social distancing in public places will remain until at least January 24.
She said that thanks to a combination of restrictions, boosters and the sacrifices of the public, the latest figures give grounds for encouragement. Daily cases are thought to have been around 30,000 early this month, almost half the initial projection of 50,000 per day.
Ms Sturgeon said there is “some hope that cases may be at or close to the peak”.
She added: ““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.”
The First Minister said while the restrictions will start to be lifted from Monday, the vaccine passport scheme will be strengthened.
She told MSPs: “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.
“Event organisers will now be asked to review 50% or 1,000 vaccine passports of attendees, whichever figure is higher.
“The definition of fully vaccinated as pertains to the certification scheme will also be updated from Monday to mean those who are eligible for a third dose and have received it.”
Ms Sturgeon also announced an additional £5 million for local authorities and funded early learning and childcare providers to approve airflow and comply with new guidance.