Hogmanay and other large events cancelled, Nicola Sturgeon confirms
Large Hogmanay celebrations have been cancelled in a bid to control the surge in Omicron cases in Scotland.
Other large-scale events will also not be able to go ahead, with football matches to become “effectively spectator-free”.
A limit of 100 people will be placed on indoor standing events, 200 for indoor seated events and 500 for outdoor events, the First Minister confirmed in a statement to Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon.
These limits will take effect from Boxing Day for three weeks, but do not apply to private events such as weddings.
To support businesses struggling in light of the new rules and current advice, the Scottish Government has set aside £375m.
Of this, £175m comes from recent Treasury announcements, while the Scottish Government has freed up a further £100m on top of the cash it announced last week for this purpose.
But Nicola Sturgeon warned this would not be enough to “fully compensate” businesses.
She told MSPs in a statement on Tuesday afternoon: “Our ability to act to protect public health and to compensate individuals and businesses effected is curtailed. This cannot be right in a public health emergency.
“While today’s Treasury announcement may be a welcome recognition of the crisis businesses face, it does not yet go far enough. We will therefore continue to press the UK government to take the threat of Omicron more seriously and act accordingly.”
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce described the new restrictions as “another hammer blow” for businesses.
Chief executive Dr Liz Cameron said: “The announcement of further additional financial support from the UK and Scottish Government for businesses today is welcome, however, it still does not go anywhere near far enough to compensating for the enormous financial losses firms are experiencing.
“January is beginning to look increasingly bleak for businesses and the prospect of an early return to economic growth in the New Year is now clearly at risk.”
Omicron cases now make up an estimated 63 per cent of all coronavirus cases in Scotland, while positive tests have increased by more than 50 per cent in the last week.
An increase has been seen across all age groups, but people aged 20-24 have seen the biggest rise at 161 per cent.
Advice for family gatherings over Christmas and Boxing Day remains unchanged, with people asked to keep celebrations small and minimise other socialising either side of the weekend.
From 27 December, guidance recommends people limit contacts as much as possible, stay at home and minimise socialising over the New Year period.
This advice will remain in place until at least the end of the first week of January.
Schools are still expected to return as normal in the new year.
Sturgeon also confirmed the government was “confident” it had the capacity to meet the target of having 80 per cent of adults receive a booster by the end of December.
She encouraged those with January appointments to reschedule or look at drop-in options.