Outdoor sports venues in Scotland will be free to welcome back full-capacity crowds from next Monday, ending restrictions that have been in place since Boxing Day.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today (Tuesday) that stadiums will be able to operate without any restrictions in a boost to football’s Scottish Premiership, which returns next week following its winter break.

Outdoor sporting events in Scotland have been limited to 500 people since December 26 as part of plans to limit the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The restrictions impacted football, horse racing and United Rugby Championship clubs Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors.

The restrictions introduced on Boxing Day also saw an attendance cap of 200 placed on indoor seated events. No update has been given on whether this will be lifted.

Fans attending sporting events in Scotland will still be required to show COVID-19 certification, but Sturgeon noted that “two important changes” would be introduced.

“Firstly, our guidance will now stipulate that the organisers of large events of 1,000 or more people should check the certification status of at least 50% of attendees, rather than the current 20%, or at least 1,000 people – whichever figure is higher,” Ms Sturgeon explained.

“And, second, from Monday the requirement to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purposes of COVID certification will include having a booster if the second dose was more than four months ago. It will still be possible to gain admission to events and venues covered by the certification scheme by providing proof of a recent negative lateral flow test.”

The Premiership brought forward its winter break to minimise the number of matches that would be held at limited capacity. As a result, only one round of fixtures took place with attendances capped at 500.

The easing of restrictions also comes ahead of the start of the Six Nations rugby championship next month. Scotland will host England on February 5 and France on February 26.

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