Crowd restrictions lifted by Scottish Government: Starts with Celtic v Hibs, boost for Hearts and Scotland Six Nations clash

Nicola Sturgeon has announced the lifting of crowd restrictions for sporting events in Scotland.

By Craig Fowler
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 2:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 5:19 pm

The First Minister made the announcement during his address to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

Clubs and organisers have been asked to check the vaccination status of 50 per cent of those attending, while it is now mandatory to have received the Covid vaccine booster if four months have passed since receiving the second dose, unless having recently returned a positive PCR. They also advise that all fans take a lateral flow test before attending.

Restrictions had been in place since Boxing Day with no more than 500 spectators allowed at outdoor events. The cinch Premiership took the decision to bring forward the winter break as a result, meaning the postponement of the Edinburgh derby on January 3.

There will be fans in attendance when Scotland take on England in the Six Nations on Saturday, January 22. Picture: SNS

The decision has now been vindicated, however, with the latest news meaning full crowds will be back in attendance for all fixtures beginning next week when the top flight returns.

Hibs travel to Celtic on Monday evening, a day before Hearts entertain St Johnstone at Tynecastle.

The news also represents a boost to Scotland’s Six Nations hopes with Gregor Townsend’s men hosting England in their opening fixture at Murrayfield on Saturday, January 22.

Sturgeon said in her statement to the Scottish Parliament to Holyrood: “I can confirm today the attendance level of 500 at large scale outdoor events will be lifted from Monday the 17th of January. That means, for example, spectators will now be permitted at outdoor sporting events, including football fixtures scheduled for early next week and the forthcoming Six Nations rugby matches.

"The Covid certification scheme will remain in place for this and other events but with two important changes.

"Firstly, we will stipulate that the organisers of large events, for a thousand or more people, check the certification status of at least 50 per cent of attendees rather than the current 20 per cent, or at least 1,000 people, whichever figure is highest.

"From Monday people will have to be fully vaccinated for the purposes of Covid certification. This will include having a booster if the second dose was four months ago. The NHS Covid Status app for domestic use will be updated from Thursday so that its QR code includes evidence of a booster.”

Scottish FA president, and former Hibs chief executive, Rod Petrie said: “Today’s announcement is welcome news for football fans across Scotland. The First Minister described the new guidance as the country ‘turning a corner’ in the fight to overcome COVID-19 and in particular the Omicron wave that necessitated the latest restrictions.

“In that regard, I would like to thank clubs for playing their part during the most recent restrictions and I am certain as a sport we will continue to demonstrate best practice in ensuring the safety of players, staff, spectators, match officials and everyone involved in the matchday experience.”

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster added: “Today’s announcement is a sensible decision that will be welcomed by clubs and hundreds of thousands of fans across the country.

“Football is not the same without supporters, and I know how much it will mean to them to be back in stadiums watching matches again. This news will also be a real financial boost for our 42 member clubs.”

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