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Scotland cancels large events amid Omicron concerns

The Scottish Government has moved to cancel some large-scale events and significantly limit attendance numbers at others as part of an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 variant Omicron.

Effective from December 26, all indoor venues such as theatres and concert halls will have a capacity limit of 200 for events that are seated and 100 for standing events, while outdoor events will be limited to 500 people.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the restrictions will remain in place for at least three weeks to January 11, when the Government will review the situation and assess whether the rules need to remain in place.

The aim for the Government is to give booster jabs to as many people as possible during the period of restrictions, with a vaccination target of 80% by the end of the year.

Other measures include one-metre social distancing requirements being reintroduced in a range of environments such as theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries, restaurants, pubs and bars, while table service-only will return in facilities where alcohol is served,

However, there will be no limit on how many people can meet at Christmas.

“The rate of vaccination acceleration in an age cohort with, to date, lower levels relatively speaking of booster protection underlines the vital importance of everyone getting booster jags as quickly as possible,” Sturgeon said.

“However, as the booster roll-out is completed – and bearing in mind that it takes around a week for immune protection to take effect in individuals – we must also act to slow down the spread of cases.

“This is not a choice between protecting health and protecting the economy – if we don’t stem the spread of the virus, both health and the economy will suffer.”

To support businesses impacted by the measures, the government has introduced a package worth £375m (€442m/$497m). This includes £100m that will be immediately available, as well as £175m from the Treasury and a further £100m from the government.

“Getting fully vaccinated is the best thing any of us can do to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the country, so please do get boosted before the bells,” Sturgeon said.

“Our advice is to stay at home as much as possible, but if you are meeting other people, test before you go – every time – and test as close to going as possible. This is really important for family gatherings on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.”

The move comes after Wales this week also announced that all sporting events in the country will be moved behind closed doors from December 26 in an effort to slow the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The new rules will apply to all indoor, outdoor, professional and community sports events, meaning fans will not be able to attend any of the traditional Boxing Day sports fixtures.

All events in England will continue as normal for the time being, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned this could change if pressure increases on the NHS amid rising Omicron cases in the country.

Image: Roger Harris on Unsplash