Football fans have reacted with glee after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the cap on crowds at outdoor events in Scotland would be lifted from Monday.
Games have been limited to just 500 fans since Boxing Day as part of the Government’s attempts to slow the spread of Omicron Covid-19 variant.
The First Minister has announced the controversial curb on crowds will be removed before Premiership sides return from their three-week winter break, which was brought forward due to the measures.
As a result of the change in guidance, Aberdeen’s rescheduled clash with champions Rangers can now go ahead on Tuesday evening in front of a packed Pittodrie.
Dons first-team star Christian Ramirez was one of the first to react to the news, tweeting:
— Christian Ramirez (@Chris_Ramirez17) January 11, 2022
Members of the Red Army also quickly made clear their excitement at being able to return to games en masse after just one match (a 2-1 home win over Dundee on Boxing Day) with a restricted crowd:
— Scott Donaldson (@Martymcfly1878) January 11, 2022
Oh yesssssss inject that
— Liam (@Leemo1903) January 11, 2022
Silly how happy I am about this! #boost
— Kevin Rinchey (@broomhilldons) January 11, 2022
As part of the removal of the attendance limit at outdoor events, however, the First Minister announced the strengthening of measures around vaccine passports.
All supporters must either be fully vaccinated – which will include a booster vaccine for those who had a second dose more than four months ago – or provide proof of a negative lateral flow test to gain entry to games.
As part of this, host clubs must now check at least 1,000 people or 50% of their attendance – whichever number is greater – are either fully vaccinated or can show a negative test.
Clubs were previously required to carry out spot-checks on only 20% of those in attendance.
Some supporters sought clarity on the situation around the vaccinations rules:
Can you confirm if you need proof of booster as your ticket information says you need proof of double vaccination..
— Robin Hall (@Tartan_Rab) January 11, 2022
This response shows not all fans are in favour of having to show a vaccine passport to gain entry to the stadium:
Bin vaccine passports
— Iced Cooly (@stovies5) January 11, 2022
Responding to today’s announcement, Scottish FA president Rod Petrie claimed football would continue to ‘demonstrate best practice’ in operating during the pandemic.
Petrie said: “Today’s announcement is welcome news for football fans across Scotland. The First Minister described the new guidance as the country ‘turning a corner’ in the fight to overcome Covid-19 and in particular the Omicron wave that necessitated the latest restrictions.
“In that regard, I would like to thank clubs for playing their part during the most recent restrictions and I am certain as a sport we will continue to demonstrate best practice in ensuring the safety of players, staff, spectators, match officials and everyone involved in the matchday experience.”
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster underlined the news would be a boost to Scotland’s 42 senior clubs who had been facing the financial headache of having to put on matches for limited crowds, saying: “Today’s announcement is a sensible decision that will be welcomed by clubs and hundreds of thousands of fans across the country.
“Football is not the same without supporters, and I know how much it will mean to them to be back in stadiums watching matches again.
“This news will also be a real financial boost for our 42 member clubs, who have faced an incredibly challenging set of circumstances since the pandemic began.
“Clubs will continue to play their part to keep fans and players safe and I would like to thank them for their efforts in following the most recent restrictions at such short notice.
“Everyone in Scottish football can now look forward to some cracking matches and a really competitive second half to the season.”