SCOTLAND'S national clinical director Jason Leitch has suggested that restrictions on crowds may still be in place when the Premiership resumes on Monday 17 January when Celtic host Hibs.

Top-flight clubs voted to bring forward the winter break to coincide with the rules imposed by the Scottish Government that limits attendance at outdoor sporting events to 500 spectators for a three-week period.

The surge in Omicron cases throughout the country led to restrictions being imposed and ministers will review the situation on Tuesday.

Appearing on Good Morning Scotland, Leitch suggested that crowd limits might not be lifted by next week as he stressed the need to reduce pressure on the NHS.

When asked whether the peak of the Omicron wave hitting earlier than anticipated could see restrictions on night-time businesses and large sporting events eased, Leitch replied: "I don't think it's earlier than we predicted, I think it's exactly when we predicted.

"If you look at the modelling, we said mid to late January for the peak.

"But your fundamental question is fair: should we still be protecting the public from these case rates if they're just going to go anyway?

"I think yes is the answer to that.

"I think the protections reduce the size of the wave and they potentially also elongate the wave to allow you to get more people vaccinated, allow you to spread the hospitalisations and intensive care cases out over a longer period.

"That's got to be good.

"Now that's not always good if you own a pub or if you own a nursery and people are having to self-isolate.

"It's a real balance in there between the number of cases and the number of people off work.

"We've tried to make some adjustments in our advice to allow people to do that.

"But I still think it is the right thing to do to try and reduce that case rate, even if it's not as severe a disease.

"Because if you have 2,000 cases per 100,000 over a seven-day period, there is no way, up until this point after a year of vaccination, we'd have been allowing what we're allowing around the country."