Scotland’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations are due to be canceled and live sports will be “effectively without spectators,” under the new Covid-19 restrictions for three weeks from Boxing Day, Nicola Sturgeon said.
The First Minister also introduced new restrictions on hospitality and urged people to “stay home as much as possible” at least until the first week of January.
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the measures were “another hammer blow to employers and Scotland’s economy”.
The amount at public events in the open air is limited to 500 for a minimum of three weeks from Boxing Day.
The number of participants at public indoor events is limited to 100 standing or 200 seats.
The step was taken to reduce the transmission of the Omicron coronavirus variant and because “major events put an additional burden on the emergency services,” said Ms. Sturgeon.
The restrictions do not apply to private events such as weddings.
Starting January 27, pubs and other places that sell alcohol will only be able to offer table service for three weeks.
Indoor restaurants and recreational facilities must also maintain a distance of one meter between groups of people participating together.
When announcing the restrictions, Ms. Sturgeon said, “This will of course effectively make sports games, including soccer, spectator-free over that three-week period.
“And it will also mean that major Hogmanay celebrations, including those planned here in our capital, will not take place.
“I know how disappointing this will be for those looking forward to these events and for the organizers.”
The latest coronavirus numbers in Scotland show there have been nine new deaths and 5,242 positive tests in the past 24 hours.
Ms Sturgeon told MPs that Omicron is now firmly established as the dominant strain of coronavirus in Scotland.
She said 62.9% of the cases showed that the S-gene failure indicates the virus and that it is “spreading rapidly”.
Despite the measures, the First Minister insisted that Christmas this year would be “more normal” than last year.
“Just a few days before Christmas, I urge you to stay at home as much as possible to curb a highly contagious new variant,” she said.
“But even if it doesn’t feel like it, we’re in a much stronger position than last year.
“We had far fewer restrictions this year than last year.
“Christmas Day is becoming more normal.
“Most importantly, a rapidly growing number of adults are now protected by three doses of vaccine.”
The latest Treasury funding will provide Scotland with an additional £ 175 million to help mitigate the effects of the measures, Ms Sturgeon said.
The First Minister informed the MSPs that all of that amount would go towards corporate support, bringing the total corporate support package to £ 375 million over the next three weeks.
Dr. Liz Cameron, executive director of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the “confirmation that more restrictions will apply from Boxing Day will be another hammer blow to employers and Scotland’s economy”.
She said: “Companies across Scotland that have done everything in their power to protect their employees and customers will be bitterly disappointed with these additional restrictions.
“Some companies and sectors will see this update as the equivalent of getting a stick of coal in their Christmas stocking, further exacerbating the drop in trade they saw in the crucial pre-Christmas season.”
Andrew McRae, Scotland’s political chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the measures would “make trade” “drastically difficult” in a “grueling winter and spring.”
He said, “The social distancing restrictions will mean that stores and hospitality companies will be able to serve fewer customers.
“And the changes to events like sports games and Hogmanay celebrations will have an impact on the local economy.
“After a disappointing festive trading period, these moves will put pressure on local businesses and the self-employed.
“These operators are now faced with difficult decisions whether to open their doors with restrictions in place or to stop trading until they are lifted.”
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