CHRISTMAS in Scotland is ON but fresh rules will be enforced from Boxing Day as Nicola Sturgeon ordered table-service only in pubs and slapped restrictions on live events.
The First Minister today revealed gloomy fresh rules as she doubled down on advice for Scots to slash their social contact in the run up to Christmas Day as she warned Omicron is now the dominant strain.
From Boxing Day, there will be new restrictions of the size of live events with the exception of private gatherings such as weddings for at least three weeks when rules will be reviewed.
Under new rules, 500 people will be allowed at large outdoor events seated or standing but Mr Sturgeon said live sport would be “effectively spectator free” in a blow to footie fans.
For indoor events, there will be a limit of 100 standing and 200 seated.
The plug has also been pulled on large-scale Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland as Ms Sturgeon said such gatherings have the “potential to become very rapid super-spreader events”.
And from December 27, it will be table service only in boozers for up to three weeks and a one metre social distancing measure must be followed.
She told MSPs: “From 27 December, again for a three-week period – we intend to introduce some further protections in hospitality settings and other indoor public places to reduce transmission risk in what are, through no fault of those who run such venues, higher-risk environments.
“I can confirm that a requirement for table service-only will be reintroduced for venues serving alcohol for consumption on the premises.
“And we will also ask indoor hospitality and leisure venues to ensure one-metre distance, not within, but between groups of people who are attending together.”
Omicron is now firmly established as the dominant strain of coronavirus in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon has said.
Updating MSPs, the First Minister said 62.9 per cent of cases showed the S-gene dropout.
She said: “It is currently spreading rapidly across Scotland, and so the steep increase in infections that was predicted last week has now started to materialise.”
Ms Sturgeon urged people to drastically cut down on socialising now so families can enjoy Christmas together.
“Crucially, between now and Christmas Day cut your contact with people in other households as much as possible, minimalise socialising with others either at home or in indoor public places.
“Stay at home as much as is feasible. This is the best way of avoiding getting Covid and having to isolate over Christmas or inadvertently spreading infection when you do meet up with others.”
It means New Year’s Eve bashes will be called off for millions as Ms Sturgeon ordered Scots to carry on staying home as much as possible until at least the end of the first week of January, when this will be reviewed.
Announcing new rules, the First Minister also issued guidance for non-professional indoor contact sports for adults should not take place for up to a three week period to cut transmissions.
She said: “I know how unwelcome this (new restrictions) will be for everyone but we believe these precautionary steps will help us navigate a difficult period more safely.”
Despite the fresh restrictions, Ms Sturgeon confirmed reopening schools in Scotland “as normal” after winter breaks remains “a priority” amid surging Covid cases.
Her clamp down puts even more pressure on Boris Johnson who is mulling fresh restrictions for England – leaving anxious families and businesses in limbo just days away from Christmas.
It comes after the UK’s Covid daily cases soared past 90,000 again yesterday, as Brits are urged to get boosters amid Christmas restriction fears.
Infections in the country rose by 91,743 within 24 hours, with 44 new fatalities from the virus.
The Omicron death toll has risen to 12, with 104 patients in hospital with the variant, Dominic Raab said on Monday morning.
A booster shot is the best protection against Omicron, with early data suggesting it pushes efficacy back up to 75 per cent.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive said: “Once again, we urge everyone who is able to get a booster jab to come forward and do so. It is the best defence we have against this highly transmissible new variant.”
HOAR is urging readers to sign up to the Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.