THE First Minister has set out how Covid-19 restrictions will begin to be eased in Scotland, starting with attendance limits at outdoor events.

Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs in Holyrood on Tuesday that in the Scottish Government's "tentative" view there are grounds for "cautious optimism" due to the success of the vaccine programe, public compliance and the measures introduced by Christmas. 

She said: "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."

It comes as the First Minister said Scotland cannot continually rely on "restrictive measures to manage the virus".

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The First Minister set out the measures she was referencing; attendance limits on outdoor and indoor live events, physical distancing between groups in public indoor places and the requirement for table service in hospitality venues which serve alcohol. 

Sturgeon said that she would confirm further dates next week, but added: "I can confirm today that the attendance limit of 500 at large-scale outdoor events will be lifted from Monday, 17 January. 

"That means, for example, that spectators will be permitted again at major outdoor sporting events, including football fixtures scheduled for early next week, and the forthcoming Six Nations rugby matches."

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The First Minister (pictured) added that the Covid certification scheme, or vaccine passports, will remain in place for venues and events previously covered - but with two changes.

She said: "Firstly, our guidance will now stipulate that the organisers of large events of 1000 or more people should check the certification status of at least 50% of attendees, rather than the current 20%, or at least 1,000 people - whichever figure is higher.  

"And, second, from Monday the requirement to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purposes of COVID certification will include having a booster if the second dose was more than four months ago.   

"The NHS Scotland COVID status app for domestic use will be updated from Thursday so that its QR code includes evidence of booster vaccination."

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The FM added that access to events covered by the certification scheme can still be granted with a negative lateral flow test. 

Sturgeon told MSPs that the rest of the measures introduced before Christmas will likely be eased on January 24, with the Cabinet due to meet next week to take a final decision. 

The First Minister added that the virus remains a "significant threat" to public health, despite the Omicron variant having a lesser impact on individuals than expected, but warned it was not "harmless".

She said: "So trying to ‘live with the virus’ as we all want to do will involve, for all countries, careful thought and possibly some difficult choices. And it involves consideration of, and empathy for, everyone in our society – including those who are at the highest clinical risk from COVID. 

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The FM cited the success of the vaccine rollout as one of the reasons restrictions can be eased

"We know that we cannot continually rely on restrictive measures to manage the virus.  

"But equally we cannot be indifferent to the continued risks the virus poses to health and wellbeing. 

"So we need to consider what adaptations we can make to manage these risks in a way that is much less disruptive to our lives and much less of a daily presence in our minds." 

The First Minister also asked the public to cut back on contacts and keep the number of households at indoor gatherings to three. 

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She also urged Scots to take lateral flow tests before socialising to try and keep transmission of the virus as low as possible. 

It comes as 10,392 positive cases were reported in Scotland yesterday as a result of PCR tests – 27.7% of all tests carried out. 

1,479 people are in hospital with COVID, 47 more than yesterday, and 65 people are in intensive care, 11 of whom have been in intensive care for more than 28 days. 

A further 16 deaths have been reported, taking the total number of deaths under the daily definition to 9,950.