Restrictions on outdoor events likely to be liftedon January 11, 2022 at 12:27 pm

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The move, which would allow Scottish football and rugby fans to return to stadiums, is expected to be confirmed later.

football fans

Image source, Getty Images

The lifting of restrictions on large outdoor events in Scotland is expected to be announced this afternoon.

The move would allow football fans to return to stadiums when the Scottish Premiership’s winter break ends next week.

It will also avoid Scotland’s Six Nations rugby matches having to be played behind closed doors at Murrayfield.

A limit of 500 people at outdoor events has been in place since Boxing Day.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will confirm in a statement at 14:20 whether that limit will remain in place.

Premiership football teams started their winter break early after the limit was imposed, with matches due to return next Monday when Celtic host Hibernian at Celtic Park.

Large Hogmanay events, including the famous street party in Edinburgh, were also cancelled.

The restrictions on outdoor events were among a series of measures imposed by the Scottish government in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

Limits of 100 people were placed on indoor standing events or 200 if they were seated, while nightclubs had to close and pubs and restaurants had to bring back table service for alcohol and a one-metre distance between different groups of people.

People were also urged not to meet in groups of more than three households.

But the latest Scottish government Covid report showed that average daily cases in Scotland (2,824 per one million population in the week to 6 January) were higher than in England (2,615 per one million), which has fewer Covid restrictions.

It is not yet known whether any other restrictions will be lifted by the first minister.

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Edinburgh University, told BBC Scotland on Monday that there was a “complete lack of necessity to keep us indoors” because “the virus does not transmit outdoors”.

He added: “Somehow, through the scientific advisory systems and the politicians, this didn’t get translated into public health action.

“As a result we all spent a lot of time having our activities curtailed for very little effect and far too long in my view.”

But Scotland’s national clinical director, Prof Jason Leitch, insisted that the restrictions had helped to reduce the spread of Omicron.

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

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