THE First Minister has announced that Covid restrictions around hospitality and leisure settings will be lifted from Monday, January 24.

In a statement made to MSPs in Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon announced that restrictions brought in from Boxing Day last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus will be lifted due to data suggesting that Scotland is now "on the downward slope of this wave of cases" driven by the Omicron variant.

Baseline measures that were in place before the Omicron wave, such as wearing face coverings in public indoor settings and on public transport, will remain.

Hospitality venues should also continue to collect contact details for customers to help Test & Protect notify potential close contacts.

Since December 26, hospitality venues that served alcohol were required to provide table service to prevent groups mixing and all hospitality and leisure venues were required to employ one-metre physical distancing between groups.

READ MORE: Scotland records another 31 Covid deaths and almost 8000 new cases

The limits on indoor events are also being lifted from next Monday. The rules currently in place meant that only 100 people could attend an indoor standing event and up to 200 people are allowed at seated events.

Nightclubs were also told to remain closed if they could not impose hospitality restrictions.

All these restrictions will be lifted from Monday, January 24.

Guidance advising adults against non-professional indoor contact sports will also be lifted from next Monday.

In addition, guidance advising people to limit indoor gatherings to three households will also be lifted.

However, Sturgeon advised people to remain cautious in their gatherings asking people to keep them "as small as our circumstances allow for now" until the end of this month to help keep the risk of infection low.

The decision was made to lift restrictions due to a significant fall in the number of new positive cases of the virus.

Data indicates that there were 36,526 new positive cases were recorded through PCR and lateral flow test last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. In the same period this week, that figure was 20,268, a reduction of more than 16,000 cases.

In addition, test positivity has also fallen since early January.

Despite the number of people in hospital with Covid increasing by 67 in seven days, the First Minister said this is "significantly smaller" than the previous period. Additionally, the number of new hospital admissions has also fallen.

The National:

The First Minister said: "All of this is very positive news and comes as an enormous relief to all of us.

"Of course, we do need to recognise that there are still some uncertainties ahead, and so throwing all caution to the wind would be a mistake.

"For example, the full impact of the return to work and school after the festive break won’t be apparent yet in the data. So it is possible that we will see case numbers tick up again in the next couple of weeks.

"Also, just as the introduction of some protective measures may have helped slow down transmission, it stands to reason that the lifting of these measures could have the opposite effect. Indeed, that is why it makes sense to lift measures on a phased basis.

"And lastly, although cases are now falling, the NHS remains under acute pressure and staff absences are still causing some disruption across the economy and critical services.

"So while we can take great heart from the latest data, we know from experience how important it is to be responsible and appropriately cautious in the face of this virus."

What are the restrictions being lifted from January 24?

  • Limits on the number of people that can attend indoor events.
  • Table service at hospitality premises that serve alcohol.
  • One-metre physical distancing between groups at all hospitality and leisure venues.
  • Nightclubs will be allowed to open again.
  • Guidance advising adults against non-professional indoor contact sports.
  • Guidance advising people to limit indoor gatherings to three households.

The First Minister also advised people to continue to take lateral flow tests before meeting up with people from other households.

Her final announcement was that people should continue to work from home where possible while the Scottish Government will engage with businesses to enable a potential return to a hybrid approach from the start of February.

It follows this Monday's (January 17) lifting of restrictions to outdoor events that would only allow up to 500 people to attend the likes of football matches.

As part of the relaxation of rules allowing large outdoor events, organisers of those with crowds of 1000 or more are now required to check the Covid passports of at least half of the attendees or 1000 people, whichever is highest.

The vaccine certification scheme will not - at this stage - be extended to other venues beyond large indoor and outdoor events and late-night venues.

The classification of fully vaccinated has changed from two to three jags.

The National: The vaccine certification scheme is not being extended to more venues right now but the classification of being 'fully vaccinated' has changedThe vaccine certification scheme is not being extended to more venues right now but the classification of being 'fully vaccinated' has changed

Sturgeon said: "Given that cases are now falling quite rapidly, and the current wave is receding, we decided that we will not at this stage extend the Covid certification scheme to other premises.

"We will, of course, reconsider this should circumstances - and therefore the balance of judgment - change in any significant way.

"If cases were to start to rise very sharply again, extension of certification may well be a more proportionate alternative to other, more restrictive measures.

"However, our conclusion today - given the improving situation - is that extending certification would not be proportionate at this stage."

There is one minor change to the certification regulations in regards to a designated area for dancing.

The change is due to some venues avoiding certification simply by having tables on a dancefloor and claiming that it is not a dancefloor but still permitting dancing around tables.

This change will take effect from Monday when late-night venues are able to re-open

RECAP: Nicola Sturgeon announces changes to Scotland's Covid restrictions

The latest daily Covid figures for Scotland show that 31 people have died in Scotland after testing positive for the virus.

Another 7752 cases were also recorded, up from 6221 on Monday.

The deaths, recorded among people who first tested positive within the previous 28 days, bring the total under that measure to 10,093.

Some 1546 people were in hospital on Monday with recently confirmed Covid, down by 11.

Of those patients, 42 were in intensive care, a decrease of one.

A total of 4,401,034 people have received their first dose of and 4,090,242 have received their second. The number of people to have received their third dose has not yet been updated.