Politics

Scotland scraps Omicron Covid limits on football and rugby matches from Monday


Boxing Day football fans were axed and Six Nations rugby looked to be under threat due to the rules, which limited outdoor events to just 500 spectators

Empty seats during the Scottish Premiership's Boxing Day match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow
Empty seats during the Scottish Premiership’s Boxing Day match at Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow

Scotland’s limit on football matches and other outdoor events will be scrapped from Monday, it has been announced.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the stringent capacity limits rushed in on Boxing Day will be lifted despite the spread of Covid.

Ms Sturgeon – who introduced Omicron restrictions alongside Wales and Northern Ireland while England resisted – said there were “some grounds for cautious optimism” and “we may be starting to turn a corner”.

Football matches and other outdoor events in Scotland were limited to only 500 people from December 26, meaning Boxing Day games were effectively fan free.

Large Hogmanay gatherings were scrapped under the new rules, including Edinburgh’s world-famous celebrations.







First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the stringent capacity limits rushed in on Boxing Day will be lifted
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Image:

Scottish Parliament)

The measures were in place for three weeks pending a review.

Today Ms Sturgeon confirmed they will be axed.

Other restrictions – including a limit of 200 people at indoor events, or 100 if they are standing – remain in place for now, ahead of a Cabinet review in a week.

Ms Sturgeon said she intends to lift other Omicron restrictions in a “phased” way on dates yet to be announced.

Those include the requirement for distancing between groups in public indoor places, and mandatory table service in pubs, bars and most restaurants.

The SNP leader told the Scottish Parliament: “Significant uncertainties remain in both the data and the immediate period ahead.







Rangers v St Mirren, Cinch Scottish Premiership, on Boxing Day
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Image:

Stuart Wallace/REX/Shutterstock)

“[But] there are nevertheless some grounds for cautious optimism that a combination of the protective measures introduced before Christmas, responsible action on the part of the general public, and the rapid delivery of booster vaccines has had a positive impact.

“As a result, I will indicate that from next week we will begin to lift the measures introduced before Christmas – but that we will do so in a phased and careful way.

“Starting with the removal of attendance limits on live outdoor events from Monday.”

However, Ms Sturgeon said guidance on Covid passes at large events will be updated to be made stricter.

At events of 1,000 or more people, venues will need to check the certification status of at least half of attendees – up from 20% now.

And Scotland will update the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ in Covid passes to mean three doses from Monday, if a person’s second dose was more than four months ago.

That means people seeking to prove their vaccine status to enter a nightclub will have had to have a booster.

Boris Johnson has already said he plans to make a similar change in England – though he has not yet given a date.

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