Nicola Sturgeon confirmed major changes to Scotland’s Covid rules on Wednesday, covering testing and quarantine.
The First Minister addressed MSPs as she updated the nation on the fight against the soaring Omicron variant.
The SNP leader revealed hospital admissions continue to soar as the infection rate increases across the country.
But Ms Sturgeon also offered some signs of hope with intensive care numbers remaining stable as the booster rollout continues.
Here’s all we learned from Wednesday’s Covid briefing.
1. Self-isolation rules are being cut back
The First Minister confirmed members of the public will now only have to self-isolate for seven days if they can prove they have recovered from Covid.
Ms Sturgeon revealed she was cutting the mandatory quarantine period of 10 days to help relieve pressure on critical services.
Scots will be able to exit self-isolation if they show as negative on two lateral flows tests on their sixth and seventh day stuck indoors.
But anyone who still has a fever or tests positive for the virus should remain in quarantine for a full ten days.
Ms Sturgeon also relaxed current rules on entire households being forced to isolate when one person has Covid.
The First Minister revealed adults who are fully vaccinated will be able to continue going to work if they test negative for the virus.
Meanwhile, school pupils aged under 18 can keep going to class if their parents test positive even if they have not had any of their jags.
These changes are significant.”
The SNP chief had been urged to relax self-isolation rules last week – but claimed “the risks outweighed the benefits” at the time.
Ms Sturgeon said: “These changes are significant. However, at this stage of the pandemic they strike an appropriate balance between the continued importance of self-isolation, and reducing the disruption self isolation causes in the economy and critical services.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross welcomed the updated rules.
He said: “These are sensible and proportionate changes. We said that the policy was not sustainable. Scotland was left as an outlier.”
2. No need to confirm with PCR
Nicola Sturgeon revealed that Scots will no longer be required to get a PCR test to confirm they have Covid.
The First Minister said that members of the public can simply self-isolate if a lateral flow test shows they have the bug.
Anyone who tests positive is still urged to report their results online so any close contacts can be traced.
People should still book PCR tests where possible – but Ms Sturgeon assured listeners that lateral flow kits are reliable and rarely produce incorrect information.
3. Hospitals are under pressure
The First Minister confirmed data will be released on Friday showing how many Covid hospital patients became infected after being admitted to their wards.
Ms Sturgeon revealed that hospitalisation rates north of the border have soared by 80 per cent in the past week with the NHS under strain.
A total of 1,223 people were in hospital overnight with Covid – but the nation remains in the dark over how many were infected before admission.
The SNP leader said that 42 patients were in intensive care, with serious illness rates remaining stable despite the rapid increase in case numbers.
4. One in 20 Scots could have Covid
It emerged that up to one in every 20 people in Scotland may be infected with Covid at the moment.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant means that many cases are not being officially recorded by the Scottish Government.
But data from the Office of National Statistics revealed up to five per cent of the country could be battling the bug.
Another 16,103 positive tests were recorded overnight with worrying record case numbers confirmed at the start of the week.
Due to the high number of cases, Ms Sturgeon confirmed that restrictions on hospitality and football fans attending games will remain in place until at least January 17.
Limiting contacts insofar as we can is important just now.”
She also urged members of the public to continue limiting their social interactions as much as they can to help cut down the spread of the virus.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Limiting contacts insofar as we can is important just now. It helps to stem increases in transmission and has a collective benefit.
“It also protects us as individuals. The risk of getting the virus when we mix with others is significant. Trying to stem transmission, at least to some degree, is important to the NHS.”
5. Business are getting more cash support
The First Minister confirmed more funding will be made available for businesses amid the Omicron crisis.
Many firms have been hit hard by the latest Covid wave with staff self-isolating and customers staying at home to avoid catching the virus.
Nightclubs were forced to shut after Boxing Day unless they wanted to remain open as pubs, with bars reverting to table service.
Ms Sturgeon revealed that up to £28million will be dished out to taxi firms and private drivers who have lost money due to the Omicron surge.
Hairdressing and beauty firms will be given £19 million, with £5 million for sports and £3 million allocated to the tourism sector.
The SNP leader said: “Local authorities are now working to get money in bank accounts as quickly as possible.”