Covid Scotland rules: What restrictions change on Monday for household gatherings and hospitality, and what still remains

Monday, January 24 has seen the remaining restrictions put in place in Scotland to curb the spread of the Omicron variant finally lifted.

By Alan Young
Monday, 24th January 2022, 8:11 am

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament last week that recent figures, showing a fall in infections, “gives us confidence that we have turned the corner on the Omicron wave”.

What is changing?

Measures brought in before Christmas – a limit on the numbers at indoor events, table service only at bars and other places selling alcohol and the closure of nightclubs – will be lifted from today.

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Members of the public walk past a piece of street art by 'Palley' that features Bruce Lee kicking a coronavirus molecule in Glasgow's East End.

Guidance limiting gatherings to a maximum of three households will also end on the same date, along with restrictions preventing adults from taking part in indoor contact sports.

The announcement came the day after the Scottish Government lifted its cap on numbers at outdoor events, with the First Minister saying the situation was now “much more positive” than it had been earlier in January, when cases had spiked.

Speaking at Holyrood, the First Minister 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.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

What about vaccine passports?

The First Minister said last week there would be no extension to coronavirus vaccine passports at the moment, stating: “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.”

The vaccine passport system was implemented in October, with Scots being asked to show proof of full vaccination through an app or paper record to access nightclubs or large events such as football matches.

The scheme was met with criticism from opposition politicians and venues that would be impacted, who railed against logistical difficulties in implementation. There have been fresh calls to scrap it completely.

Vaccine certification covers unseated indoor events with more than 500 attendees, unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people attending, and any event involving more than 10,000 people, seated or standing.

What other restrictions remain?

The wearing of face coverings in public indoor settings and on public transport, as well as working from home whenever possible, will remain in force in Scotland. The First Minister indicated a return to hybrid working from the beginning of February.

What about the rest of the UK?

Wales and Northern Ireland have changed their coronavirus restrictions after England confirmed it would be dropping its Plan B measures from Thursday.

Wales has moved to alert level zero for all outdoor activities, meaning crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events and limits on the number of people taking part in outdoor activities will be removed.

The rule of six and social distancing will be removed from outdoor hospitality. The Covid pass will continue to be required for entry to larger outdoor events attended by more than 4,000 people, if unseated, or 10,000 people when seated. They will still be required in all cinemas, theatres and concert halls.

In Northern Ireland, the requirement to show proof of exemption from wearing face coverings is being removed, as is the cap on the number of households meeting inside domestic settings.

The requirement to remain seated and the limit of six per table at hospitality venues is also being removed.

The required self-isolation period following a positive Covid test is also being reduced on Friday.

What has changed in England?

Plan B measures are being dropped across England from Thursday.

Guidance asking people to work from home has been lifted, and from Thursday mandatory Covid passes will end.

Also from Thursday, people will no longer need to wear face masks.

Face coverings have been scrapped in classrooms, with school communal areas to follow.