Scotland’s Covid-19 restrictions are to be eased, with nightclubs reopening, large indoor events resuming and social distancing rules dropped.
The changes will take effect from Monday 24 January after a “significant fall” in new case numbers.
However, people are still being asked to work from home and to take lateral flow tests before meeting with others.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that Scotland had “turned the corner on the Omicron wave”.
Guidance advising adults against meeting up with more than three households at a time will also be scrapped, along with curbs on indoor contact sports.
And ministers have decided against extending the vaccine passport scheme to more hospitality settings “at this stage”.
Commenting on the First Minister’s Covid-19 update, Dr. Liz Cameron CBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:
“The removal of the operating limits placed upon the hospitality, retail, and evening economy is good news and will be welcomed by many businesses. With these restrictions lifting from 24th January, these sectors will finally be able to reopen fully and work to rebuild confidence after what has been a bleak winter.
“It will come as a relief for many hospitality and licensed premises that the government has chosen not to extend the vaccine passport scheme at this time. To do so would burden these businesses with further costs at a time when they simply cannot afford them and place jobs at risk. Any potential extension to the scheme must come with immediate financial support and be properly evidenced.”
On home working:
“Today’s update did not see any clear indication of an end date for the requirements around home working. This will confuse and frustrate businesses, particularly those in our town and city centres who rely upon the flow of office workers for income. Businesses are reporting that this inflexibility is having a growing consequence for the productivity and wellbeing of their staff.
“The government has indicated that they will engage with business on devising a hybrid approach from the beginning of February. Many businesses have already adopted hybrid approaches, in partnership with their employees, and simply await confirmation from the government that they can proceed on these return-to-work plans.
“We urge the government to remove the shackles from offices as urgently as possible to provide real choice for employers and employees. We cannot delay the removal of these restrictions any further.”