CORONAVIRUS restrictions introduced in Scotland to tackle the Omicron wave of infections are being lifted.

As of Monday (January 24), nightclubs are able to reopen, while the caps on indoor events, table service requirements for venues selling alcohol and social distancing are also removed.

The measures were put in place in December – along with a maximum capacity in outdoor events of 500, which was eased last Monday as the new variant caused a spike in cases – eventually peaking at more than 20,000 in the first days of 2022.

However, infections started to dip faster than expected, never reaching the worst case scenario the Scottish Government envisaged as possible – with projections suggesting 50,000 people could be infected daily with the new variant at the peak of the wave.

But the requirements for face coverings and self-isolation will remain for the foreseeable future.

Announcing the end of the restrictions last Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Although significant pressures and uncertainties do remain, the data nevertheless gives us confidence that we have turned the corner on the Omicron wave.”

She told MSPs: “A combination of booster vaccinations, the willingness of the public to adapt their behaviour to help stem transmission, and the temporary protective measures introduced in December, has helped blunt the impact of the Omicron wave.”

The National: Nightclubs are reopening in Scotland Nightclubs are reopening in Scotland

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The First Minister also said there would be no extension to the vaccine passport scheme despite consideration by her Cabinet.

Tory leader Douglas Ross said on Thursday the First Minister had been “too gung-ho” in bringing in new restrictions when the new strain was detected.

But speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, Sturgeon defended the use of restrictions, saying they were “worth it”.

“The short answer, I think, is yes they were, although they have a big impact on businesses, and individuals.”

She added: “If you look at what we were predicting through our modelling would be the case in January before Christmas… it was around 50,000 infections a day and we didn’t see that materialise or anything like that materialise.

“I think that was a combination of the acceleration of the booster campaign… these sensible, balanced, protective measures we introduced before Christmas and lastly – perhaps most importantly – the magnificent, responsible response of the public who changed their behaviour in the face of Omicron in order to try to stem transmission.

“So, yes, I think what we did has been worth it and we’re hopefully now seeing Scotland … very firmly on the downward slope of that Omicron wave.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said it was too early to say it was “the beginning of the end” in terms of restrictions but that Monday’s easing marked progress.

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “I think it’s too early to say it’s the beginning of the end, because I think anybody listening to the international commentary on the progress of Covid around the world would indicate that there are significant challenges that remain in the handling of Covid, particularly about the possibility of new variants.

“But I think today marks a very significant moment of progress in Scotland in tackling Covid and enabling people to live lives a bit more closely to what we would normally expect to be the case.”