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Latest COVID-19 Restrictions

Tue 28 Dec 21

Latest from the Scottish Government

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has given a statement to the Scottish Parliament today (21 December). You can read the full statement on the Scottish Government website.

Due to the urgent threat posed by Omicron’s much higher transmissibility than other variants of coronavirus (COVID-19), additional targeted measures to minimise contacts will come into force for at least three weeks to allow immunity from the accelerated booster vaccine programme to take effect. All measures will be reviewed after three weeks on Tuesday 11 January.

The Scottish Government continues to provide guidance to assist individuals and businesses to reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible. The tourism and hospitality sector guidance has been updated (23 December 2021) and should be read in conjunction with the safer workplaces guidance, which contains the key elements of mandatory and advisory protection measures, alongside advice and resources on risk management.

What does it mean for businesses?

From Sunday 26 December attendance at live public events – as opposed to private life events such as weddings and funerals – will be restricted.

Indoor standing events will be limited to 100 people, indoor seated events to 200 people and outdoor events will have a maximum capacity of 500. Physical distancing of one metre will be required at events that go ahead within these limits. This will mean large scale Hogmanay events, such as in Edinburgh, will not proceed.

The First Minister explained the much higher transmissibility of the variant meant these gatherings have the potential to be “rapid super spreader events”, adding this would cut travel risk to and from the event and ease the burden on public services, particularly the police and ambulances.

From 5am on 27 December, to minimise the risk of widespread transmission, there will be a requirement for one metre physical distancing between adults in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings, including:

  • pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and other settings where food and drink is served for consumption on-site
  • leisure settings including gyms, theatres, cinemas, bingo and snooker halls and bowling alleys
  • museums, galleries and other visitor attractions

Table service will be required in settings where alcohol is served for consumption on the premises.

On 23 December it was announced that nightclubs in Scotland will close from 5am on 27 December to tackle the transmission of Omicron. This closure is to be reviewed in three weeks on Tuesday 11 January.

A package totalling £375 million, including £175 million of additional funding from the Treasury, will be made available to support sectors affected by the latest protective measures to combat Omicron. An update will be provided on the breakdown and allocation of funding as soon as possible. Read more information on what has been announced so far.

What does it mean for the general public?

There is no change to the advice for Christmas set out last week; family gatherings on Christmas Day and Boxing Day can go ahead. People are being advised to keep gatherings as small as family circumstances allow and to ensure everyone does a test shortly before getting together.

Between now and Christmas Day, it is advised to limit contact with people in other households as much as possible. Minimise socialising with others, either at home or in indoor public places. Indeed, stay at home as much as is feasible.

From 27 December – and at least until the end of the first week in January when it will be reviewed – people should go back to limiting contacts as much as possible. This does not apply to private life events such as weddings.

The core advice is to reduce socialising and stay at home as much as feasible. If going out of the house, people should maintain physical distancing from those not within their group.

UK Government announcement

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has today announced that additional support will be available for businesses who have been impacted by the Omicron variant.

Government will cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for COVID-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.

Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be able to apply for reimbursement for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for COVID-related absences, for up to two weeks per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from today and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.

There is also a 12.5% reduced rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism to support the cash flow and viability of around 150,000 businesses and protect over 2.4 million jobs, until the end of March 2022.

Read the full announcement from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

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