New rules will be imposed from Boxing Day, including cancelling large events, in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced all public events will have a cap on numbers – limited to just 100 people for indoor standing events.
For indoor seated events it will be 200 and for outdoor events it will be 500 whether seated or standing, Ms Sturgeon announced on Tuesday.
Addressing the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said these limits will not apply to private events such as weddings and funerals.
From Boxing Day, the Scottish Government is urging people to stay at home and limit social contacts, and continue to work from home.
Christmas Day celebrations
People are not being asked to cancel their Christmas plans, but new guidance will be in place from Boxing Day, said the first minister.
She said: “I will again appeal to everyone across the country to reduce contacts and stay at home as much as possible in the run-up to Christmas Day, and then again after this
Christmas weekend, and also reiterate the steps we can all take to make family
celebrations this weekend as safe as possible”
Additional pressure on the NHS
She said the huge number of coronavirus cases would cause “suffering caused to individuals and families” and “the additional pressure on our already stretched NHS will be extremely difficult to manage”.
She noted the economy has already began to be affected, with more than 100 Scotrail services cancelled on Monday due to staff absence.
Theatres are already being forced to cancel shows due to Covid cases amongst cast and crews.
Discussing the festive period, Ms Sturgeon said she was not asking people to change Christmas plans.
However, she advised limiting contact before and after Christmas weekend.
She said: “Please follow advice to keep family celebrations as safe as possible.
“Keep gatherings as small as family circumstances allow.
“Make sure everyone does a test shortly before getting together. Anyone who tests
positive should not mix with others.
“And given how infectious Omicron is, you should assume that if one member of a household is positive, the others are likely to be so too. Follow hygiene advice and keep windows open.
Cut contacts in run-up to Christmas
“And, crucially, between now and Christmas Day, cut your contacts with people in other
households as much as possible. Minimise socialising with others, either at home or
in indoor public places. Indeed, stay at home as much as feasible.
“This is the best way of avoiding getting Covid and having to isolate over Christmas, or
inadvertently spreading infection when you do meet up with others.
“I am grateful to everyone who has followed this advice since last week.
“It will be making a difference – the steep increase in cases over the past week would
have been steeper still but for people complying with this advice.
“It is important that we stick with it.”
New advice from December 26
From 26 December for a period of three weeks, there will be limits on the size of public events that can take place. This does not apply to private life events such as weddings.
For indoor standing events the limit will be 100, for indoor seated events it will be 200, and for outdoor events it will be 500 – seated or standing.
Physical distancing of one metre will be required at events.
“This will of course make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free over this three week period,” said Ms Sturgeon.
Minimise Hogmanay socialising
She added: “From 27 December – as we come out of the Christmas weekend – and at least until the end of the first week in January when we will review this advice again, please go back to limiting your contacts as much as possible.
“Please stay at home as much as possible. When you do go out, please maintain
physical distancing from people not in your group.
“And difficult though it is, please follow this advice over New Year – minimise Hogmanay socialising as much as you can.”
Omicron ‘super-spreader’ outbreaks
Ms Sturgeon said that the high transmissibility of Omicron meant large gatherings “have the potential to become very rapid super-spreader events”.
She said there was also risk from the associated travel to and from events.
And, she said large events put an additional burden on emergency services,
especially the police and ambulance services.
Extra cash for businesses
In total, £375 million of additional funding will be made available by the Scottish and UK Governments to offset some of the economic damage, Ms Sturgeon said.
Further details will be published on the Scottish Government website.
She also said her Cabinet’s plan was to re-open schools as normal after the holidays.
Current Covid statistics
Ms Sturgeon said 5,242 positive cases were reported yesterday – 14.9% of all tests carried out.
There are 515 people are in hospital with Covid – one fewer than yesterday, and 37 people are in intensive care, which is one fewer than yesterday.
There are a further nine deaths reported, taking the total number of deaths under
the daily definition to 9,790.
Ms Sturgeon reinforced the message to continue to follow hygiene measures, to get vaccinated and the booster jab, and to continue to take tests before leaving the house.