First Minister Update – 18th January
The First Minister today gave a further announcement on Covid-19 restrictions, saying that Scotland had “turned the corner on the Omicron wave”.
In welcome news for the hospitality and events sectors, the most recent set of restrictions will now be lifted from Monday 24th January. This includes restrictions on numbers at events and the requirement for table service and social distancing in hospitality.
Key points from today’s announcement are:
- From Monday 24th January, the limit on the number of attendees at indoor events will be lifted
- The requirement for 1 metre physical distancing between different groups in indoor public places, and the requirement for table service in hospitality premises will also be lifted from 24th January
- Nightclubs can reopen from the same date
- The guidance to limit indoor socialising to 3 households will also be lifted from the 24th January
- The First Minister also cautioned that we should all continue to keep gatherings as small as our circumstances allow for now, at least until the end of this month
- The guidance remains that we should all continue to take regular Lateral Flow Tests, particularly before socialising with other households
- The guidance to work from home wherever possible also remains in place, but the First Minister did state that the Government will now be engaging with businesses on a return to a more hybrid approach from the start of February.
- The baseline mitigation measures that were in place before Omicron will be retained at this stage to help keep Covid contained. This includes the requirement for face masks and Track and Trace
On the Covid-19 certification scheme:
- Organisers of events with more than 1,000 attendees are now required to check at least 50% of attendees, or 1,000 people, whichever is higher
- The scheme is not being extended to other settings at this time, given the decrease in cases. However this will be reconsidered if cases begin to rise.
You can find the full statement from the First Minister here.
Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement on the easing of Covid restrictions, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Liz McAreavey said:
“ Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce welcomes the announcement today by the Scottish Government that the restrictions imposed to tackle the Omicron variant are to be lifted so significantly.
“This is very good news for businesses across the city, and will be particularly welcomed by some of our hardest hit sectors – most notably live events, hospitality and tourism. These are core to our city’s economy and directly and indirectly support many thousands of local jobs. However, for many, immediate survival is still very much a priority.
“If we are to enjoy the economic recovery we seek, then businesses will need support to adapt to the continuing challenges – not least in areas like labour, supply chain disruption and the high levels of debt incurred during the restrictions imposed on them over the past 20 months. We would urge both the UK, Scottish and local governments to continue to work with the business community to address the rising costs of running a business, the ease of doing business and how we continue to invest in growth, productivity, skills and sustainability. There are clear policy levers that government can use to create the right environment that will help drive recovery, create jobs and ensure a fair and inclusive economic transition.”