SCOTLAND will not see a further roll-out of vaccine passports, the First Minister has announced.

Speaking to the chamber at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon began by highlighting the fourth wave of Covid sweeping across Europe and the decisions being taken by governments in order to try to mitigate its impact.

Saying that the situation in Scotland “appears to have stabilised”, Sturgeon cautioned that it was hard to know the direction the pandemic would head over the festive period and into January.

She said an increase in indoor mixing alongside a waning in the effectiveness of vaccinations may lead to a further rise in cases into the new year.

READ MORE: Scotland's Covid vaccine passports: What are other countries in Europe doing?

Emphasising the pressures on the NHS, the First Minister said the R number was currently “hovering at or above 1” and said it needed to be lowered.

To this end, Sturgeon said that the Cabinet has decided to retain “all of the remaining legal protections” including face masks and the vaccine passport scheme.

However, contrary to rumours which have swirled around her statement, the First Minister said the vaccine passport scheme would not be extended to venues such as pubs and cinemas.

Sturgeon said it had been a "very, very finely balanced decision" due to the "precarious" position which Scotland finds itself in.

However, the scheme currently in place will last for at least another three weeks.

Sturgeon also said that from December 6 people will be able to show a recent negative lateral flow test in place of a vaccine passport, an aspect for which opposition politicians had previously criticised the scheme.

The National: EMBARGOED TO 0001 MONDAY OCTOBER 18..File photo dated 11/10/21 of a smartphone displaying the NHS Scotland Covid status app. Enforcement of Scotland's controversial Covid vaccine passport scheme comes into effect from Monday. Issue date: Monday

While businesses across Scotland had hit out at a potential extension of the vaccine passport scheme, health experts had praised it as a sensible step.

As it stands, people need to show a Covid vaccine passport if they wish to enter a nightclub or an "analogous venue", a sexual entertainment venue, an unseated indoor event with more than 500 people, an unseated outdoor event with more than 4000 people, and any event of more than 10,000 people.

The First Minister also urged Scots to take all the measures available to them in order to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Sturgeon said that this included taking lateral flow tests - which can be picked up for free from pharmacies across the country or ordered online - any time they were heading out to socialise or even shop.

She further called on people to make sure they are working from home where they are able to, and to take any vaccine they are eligible for, whether that’s a Covid one or one for the flu.

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The First Minister also confirmed that 17 people have died in Scotland after contracting Covid-19 in the past 24 hours. The deaths, among people who tested positive in the previous 28 days, bring the total under this measure to 9495.

A further 2527 cases were registered in the same time period, with a positivity rate of 11.6%.

A total of 4,340,162 people have received their first dose of a vaccination, 3,940,314 have received their second, and 1,469,423 have received a third or booster.

Sturgeon said that 88% of over-18s in Scotland are now double-vaccinated, and thanked staff for helping Scotland to remain the most vaccinated part of the UK.