Scotland Covid rules: what are new restrictions from Boxing Day - and what did Nicola Sturgeon say?

Large Hogmanay celebrations have been cancelled and events, such as football matches, are unable to have big crowds

New Covid rules have come into force for Scotland today (Boxing Day) after Nicola Sturgeon also revealed new restrictions for the traditional Hogmanay New Year celebrations.

The First Minister has brought in new limits for events like football matches, making them “effectively spectator-free” from today (Boxing Day).

Ms Sturgeon also said on Tuesday (21 December) that Scotland’s traditional large-scale Hogmanay celebrations will be scaled back this year.

In her announcement, she said that the new restrictions were necessary for Scotland to “get ahead of the data” on Omicron, with the strain now representing around 62% of positive tests.

What did Nicola Sturgeon announce in her Covid update?

The major announcement made by the First Minister during her Covid update in parliament on 1 December was that Scotland’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations are to be cancelled.

This includes the Edinburgh street party, and other large events throughout the country.

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that, from Boxing Day, crowds at public indoor and outdoor events will be limited for at least three weeks.

Indoor events are now limited to 100 people standing, or 200 people seated.

A limit of 500 people are now permitted to attend outdoor public events, which the First Minister admitted made live sports in Scotland “effectively spectator-free” from Boxing Day.

It comes as a blow to sports fans, with huge events such as the Old Firm game on 2 January - which was expected to draw a crowd of around 60,000 fans to Celtic Park - now et to be played in front of little-to-no supporters.

She said: “This will of course make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free over this three-week period.

“And it will also mean that large-scale Hogmanay celebrations, including that planned here in our capital city, will not proceed.

“I know how disappointing this will be for those looking forward to these events, and for the organisers of them.”

Ms Sturgeon did however confirm that the limits on crowds at public events did not extend to private events such as weddings.

Hospitality venues will also be asked to reintroduced some Covid measures from 27 December for a minimum duration of three weeks.

Any venue which serves alcohol, such as a pub, bar or restaurant, will be required to offer table service only, with all hospitality businesses required to reintroduce social distancing of one metre between groups.

Those in Scotland are also encouraged to to limit contacts, stay at home and minimise socialising from 27 December.

What did Nicola Sturgeon say about Christmas Day?

Scots were previously told that Christmas Day celebrations were permitted, with advice that social contact be limited to a maximum of three households.

The First Minister confirmed that this advice has remained the same and there will be no restrictions on Christmas Day gatherings.

Despite the announcement of new restrictions and anxiety over the steep rise in Covid cases, Ms Sturgeon insisted that this Christmas will be “more normal” than last year.

She said: “Just a few days before Christmas, I am again urging people to stay at home as much as possible, to slow down a highly infectious new variant.

“But, although it may not feel like it, we are in a much stronger position than last year.

“We have had far fewer restrictions in place for much of this year than was the case last year.

“Christmas Day will be more normal. Most importantly, a rapidly increasing number of adults is now protected by three doses of vaccine.”

How many Covid cases are there in Scotland?

As of 21 December, 5,242 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported, representing 14.9% of all tests taken.

515 people were confirmed to be in hospital with recently diagnosed Covid-19, with 37 people in intensive care.

There have been nine confirmed deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

How many Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in Scotland?

In statistics published on 21 December, 4,373,917 people have received a first dose of a Covid vaccine, with 3,997,192 people ‘fully-vaccinated’ with two doses.

So far, 2,630,615 people have received a booster dose or a third dose on top of this.

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