FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced changes to work from home rules to pave the way for a "phased return" for workers to offices. 

Speaking to MSPs in Holyrood, the FM said that employers should pursue hybrid working - a mix of working in the office and working from home - as of Monday, January 31.

She said: "Firstly, as indicated last week, the current guidance on working from home - strengthened in response to Omicron - will be now be updated.

"Instead of recommending home working whenever practical, the new guidance will pave the way for a phased return to the office.

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"It will recommend that, from Monday, January 31, employers should consider implementing hybrid working – following appropriate guidance - with workers spending some time in the office and some time at home.

"We would not expect to see a wholesale return to the office next week – indeed, given that the level of infection, though falling, remains high, a mass return at this stage is likely to set progress back.

"But we know there are many benefits to both employees and employers, and to the economy as a whole, in at least a partial return to the office at this stage."

The First Minister also announced two further changes to Covid-19 rules in her statement which will come into force on Friday 28 January.

The National:

Firstly, on physical distancing changes, the FM said that the rules brought in in December because of Omicron, for indoor settings will change

She told MSPs: "A requirement for two-metre physical distancing was introduced for indoor settings where people have a specific exemption from the need to wear a face covering.

"Such exemptions apply, for example, to people leading religious services or carrying out some receptionist duties. 

"From Friday, in light of the improving situation, this requirement will revert to one metre."

The second change relates to organised activities for younger children and adults being required to wear face masks.

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The guidance currently requires adults attending activities to wear face coverings indoors, unless they are leading the activity.

The FM added: "However, from Friday, face coverings will no longer be required for any adult taking part in organised activities when they are directly interacting with children under the age of five. 

"This change will bring the guidance for indoor activities into line with that for early learning and childcare settings, and be of benefit to younger children and those working with them."

The First Minister added that there will be no immediate change to face mask requirements in schools, which the Scottish Tories have been calling to be scrapped completely. 

The National:

Face mask rules in schools will remain in place but are under review the FM said

There are also changes to international travel requirements, which were agreed on Monday by all four UK governments. 

From Friday, February 11 fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a test once they arrive, but must still complete a passenger locator form. 

Those travelling to Scotland who are not fully vaccinated will still need to take a pre-departure test no more than two days before their flight and take a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival. 

For international travel purposes, fully vaccinated currently means two doses, and does not require a booster jab.

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The First Minister added: "The Scottish Government would have preferred this system to be in place before removing the need for vaccinated people to take tests – however, as we have done in the past, we recognise the wider benefits of adopting a common approach where possible.

"While these changes will be very welcome to travellers and the travel industry, it is important to point out that no government can completely rule out having to tighten travel requirements again if certain circumstances - most obviously another new variant - were to arise.

"But for now - and hopefully for the long term - it is really positive that these measures can be lifted. It opens the way for family reunions, the prospect again of holidays overseas and, of course, much needed support for the travel sector."