Covid Scotland: New restrictions start on Boxing Day as large events banned

New coronavirus restrictions have come into force in Scotland as the country’s leaders try to combat rising Covid cases but politicians in England are unlikely to discuss further measures until Monday.

Restrictions on large events were re-imposed from 5am on Boxing Day as the Scottish Government looks to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

With the increased transmissibility of the new strain, the Scottish Government has imposed limits on the number of people who can attend events.

Only 100 are allowed to attend a standing indoor event and 200 at a seated event.

Rangers won't get the full Roseburn Stand next month after hearts cut their allocation to just 1,000 tickets

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Outdoor events have been limited to 500, meaning large-scale Hogmanay celebrations have been scrapped.

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Despite the restrictions, football games in the Scottish Premiership will go ahead on Boxing Day, with the winter break brought forward to limit the impact of restrictions on teams.

Indoor non-professional contact sports have also been stopped.

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The restrictions will be reviewed in three weeks, and will be paired with further changes coming into effect from Monday at 5am, including the closure of nightclubs.

Indoor hospitality and leisure settings will also have to return to one-metre social distancing and table service where appropriate under the new measures.

Announcing the restrictions this week, Nicola Sturgeon said she understood how disappointing the changes will be to those impacted.

The First Minister 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.

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“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.”

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The most recent figures, released on Christmas Eve, show 7,076 new cases of Covid-19, 10 deaths and a 14.7 per cent positivity rate.

Elsewhere in the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland have also introduced new restrictions, but politicians in England are unlikely to discuss further measures until Monday.

From 5am on Boxing Day, a maximum of six people will be allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants in Wales.

A total of 30 people will be allowed at indoor events while 50 people will be allowed at outdoor events.

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Two metre social distancing is being required in public premises and offices, and nightclubs will close.

The rules, in force from 6am, are a revised version of alert level two.

Northern Ireland is also bringing in restrictions on Boxing Day and December 27, with indoor standing events no longer permitted and nightclubs closing.

Socialising will be reduced to three households while up to six people can meet in pubs, bars and restaurants. Ten people will be allowed if they are from the same household. Only table service will be available.

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A two metre social distancing rule will be in place in public premises and offices.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has yet to announce any further rules for England but indicated he will not hesitate to act after Christmas if required amid rising cases of the Omicron variant.

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