Nicola Sturgeon confirms fans to return for Celtic v Hibs and Six Nations as crowd restrictions lifted

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that crowd restrictions on sporting fixtures will be lifted from Monday in a major boost for Scottish football and rugby.

The First Minister made the announcement during her Covid briefing at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

A limit of 500 spectators has been imposed on outdoor events since Boxing Day in a move that prompted the SPFL to bring forward its winter break for Premiership clubs.

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New year derby fixtures including Celtic v Rangers and Hibs v Hearts were rescheduled for early February and will now be played in front of full houses.

Nicola Sturgeon's announcement means Celtic Park will welcome back fans when Hibs visit in the first match after the winter shutdown on Monday, January 17. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The first match to benefit from the lifting of restrictions will be Celtic’s match against Hibs at Parkhead on Monday evening, ahead of a full midweek card of fixtures as Premiership clubs return from their three-week shutdown.

In a boost to the Six Nations, there will also be fans in attendance when Scotland take on England at Murrayfield on Saturday, February 5, while Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby will also be able to welcome back capacity crowds in their next home fixtures after being curtailed to 500 last weekend.

As a condition of the changes, fans will need to have received a booster jab in order to attend matches, with clubs now required to check the vaccine status of half of all spectators if more than 1000 are in attendance.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We will begin to lift the protective measures announced before Christmas from Monday, but we will do that in a phased way that will allow us to form in the days ahead a clearer picture of the trends in infections and the associated impacts.

“The measures I’m specifically referring to here are limits on attendances at live public events, the requirement for distancing between groups in public indoor places, and the requirement for table service in hospitality venues serving alcohol on the premises.

“I expect to confirm further dates next week, however, I can confirm today that the attendance limit of 500 at large-scale outdoor events will be lifted frm Monday, January 17. This 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 maches.”

Confirming the stipulations on vaccination status, Ms Sturgeon went on: “The Covid certification scheme will remain in place for these and other events and venues previously covered, but with two important changes.

“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 per cent of attendees, rather than the current 20 per cent, or at least 1000 people, whichever figure is highest.

"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 it’s QR code includes evidence of booster vaccination.”

No update was given for indoor sporting events, such as ice hockey and basketball which had attendances limited to 200, with the First Minister stating she will provide clarification next week.

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