VACCINE passports could be required for access to a broader range of venues, Nicola Sturgeon has told MSPs.

The First Minister told Holyrood the policy was under consideration and she would give an update on the government's decision next week.

She made the comments as she relaxed some Covid restrictions confirming that the attendance limit of 500 people at large-scale outdoor events will be lifted from Monday, January 17. 

The requirement to show proof of being fully vaccinated before being allowed to attend certain larger events was introduced in October and reviewed in December, allowing people to gain access if they can show proof of a recent negative lateral flow test.

Events and venues the scheme applied to were nightclubs and large events including unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with more than 4000 people. Any event with more than 10,000 people in attendance.

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However in other countries vaccine passports are also required to gain entry to cinemas, theatres, as well as pubs and restaurants.

The First Minister did not say which further types of venues could fall within the expanded Covid certification scheme.

Ministers have previously said there would be no need for a vaccine passport to access public services or settings where people have no choice over attendance - such as shops, public transport, education and medical services.

"Cabinet will next review the data at our meeting a week today," she told MSPs on Tuesday afternoon.

"I hope this will allow us to lift the other protective measures - limits on indoor live events, table service in hospitality and distancing in indoor public places - from 24 January. However, I will confirm this in my statement next week."

She added: "There is a related point I wish to draw to Parliament’s attention today. As we do lift these other protective measures, it will be necessary to consider again if extending the scope of Covid certification to other venues might be a necessary protection. 

"To be clear, we have not yet taken any decisions on this and it will require careful judgment. But I want to be clear to Parliament today that it is something we feel bound to give appropriate consideration to." 

Earlier in her statement, the First Minister said the latest Covid-19 figures give grounds for "encouragement".

She told MSPs that up to 30,000 positive cases a day are being recorded, almost half the initial projection of 50,000 per day.

"While the situation, not least for the NHS, remains very challenging, there are some early indications in the data that offer some encouragement. Firstly, while it is always difficult to prove a direct causal link between any specific action or measure and subsequent outcomes, there is reason to be optimistic that protective measures, the behavioural response of the general public and the vaccine programme have helped mitigate to some extent the impact of the Omicron wave.

"For instance, our central projection last month was that new infections could reach 50,000 a day by early January. This has not so far materialised.

"Instead we estimate that the total number of new infections a day in early January, not just those recorded through positive PCR tests, may have been around 30,000.

"In other words, it is very likely that the situation we face now, though serious, would have been even more challenging without the renewed sacrifices made by people across the country over these last few weeks."

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There are some signs Scotland is "starting to turn the corner" on the Omicron variant spike, Sturgeon has told MSPs.

Speaking in Holyrood, the First Minister said: "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."

But Sturgeon added that there are still some uncertainties which are yet to be addressed.

"I have already explained the uncertainties in the data which mean that the picture is not yet as clear as we would like it to be," she added. "And, of course, we do not yet know what impact the post-Christmas return to work and school will have on the level of infection.

"What we do know is that staff absences resulting from high levels of infection are causing disruption in the economy and in critical services and that the NHS remains under very severe pressure indeed.

"Continuing transmission therefore remains a vital imperative."

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross branding the possibility of vaccine passports being extended to more venues "disappointing" while Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton said he was "concerned" by the prospect.

Cole-Hamilton said that the continued use of the "Covid ID scheme" was "rather concerning".

The Scottish Lib Dem leader added: "The prospect of rolling this out to a new array of venues, particularly when many of those venues are pulling themselves off the mat following the latest hospitality rules, is also highly concerning."