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COVID-19: All Omicron restrictions in Scotland to be lifted next Monday, but Nicola Sturgeon warns cases ‘still high’

Nightclubs will reopen and limits on hospitality come to an end as all of Scotland’s Omicron coronavirus restrictions are lifted next Monday.

The changes – first introduced to slow the spread of the Omicron variant – will take place from 24 January as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the country is on a “downward slope” of infections.

The requirement for table service in hospitality will come to an end and attendance limits on indoor events will also be lifted, as well as restrictions preventing adults from taking part in indoor contact sport.

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However, Ms Sturgeon warned the rate of COVID infections “is still high” and urged people to remain cautious in their social interactions.

She said: “From Monday we will also lift the guidance asking people to stick to a three-household limit on indoor gatherings.

“However, it is important to stress this point: notwithstanding the improving situation, the level of COVID infection circulating in the community is still high.

“So to minimise the risk of us getting the virus it would be sensible for all of us to remain cautious in our social interactions at this stage.”

She continued: “We will continue to ask people to work from home whenever possible at this stage – and for employers to facilitate this.

“However, we will engage with business now about a return to a more hybrid approach from the start of February.”

There will also be no extension to coronavirus vaccine passports, Ms Sturgeon announced.

It comes as Scotland recorded another 31 coronavirus deaths and a further 7,752 people infected with the virus.

The number of people in hospital has fallen by 21, to 1,546, with 59 people in intensive care, a rise of one.

Ms Sturgeon said over the past week the number of people testing positive with a PCR test had fallen from “an average of almost 13,000 a day to just over 4,600” – a drop of 64%, with cases declining in all age groups.

As a result, the first minister said she could “say with some confidence that the rise in cases driven by Omicron peaked in the first week of January and that we are now on the downward slope of this wave of cases”.

Ms Sturgeon also urged the more than 600,000 Scots over the age of 18 who are eligible for a booster, but haven’t yet had it, to come forward.

She said despite the renewed optimism the NHS remained under “significant pressure”.

The first minister continued: “Despite what people may be hearing from media commentary, we have not yet moved from the epidemic to the endemic phase of COVID, although I hope that transition is under way.

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“However, we are – I hope – once again entering a calmer phase of the epidemic.”

She added the Scottish government continued to work on its next steps in combating the virus.

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