LONDON (Reuters) - Scotland will start lifting coronavirus measures that were introduced late last year, starting with the removal of limits on crowds at large outdoor events like soccer and rugby matches, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday.
In December, Scotland went further than Prime Minister Boris Johnson did in England to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. This included Scotland's semi-autonomous government imposing restrictions on venues and large events.
Sturgeon said the public's behaviour and the booster programme had helped avert the worst case projections given last month, when Scotland cancelled New Year's Eve celebrations.
"From next week, we will begin to lift the measures introduced before Christmas, but we will do so in a phased and careful way, starting with the removal of attendance limits on live outdoor events from Monday," Sturgeon told parliament.
Sturgeon also said that, while the situation was undoubtedly serious, the rate of increase in hospitalisations was starting to slow.
She also announced a change to the vaccine certification that is needed to get into some venues in Scotland.
Now it requires booster dose rather than just the initial two-dose vaccination needed previously, if the second dose was more than 4 months ago, although a negative lateral flow test can also be used, Sturgeon said.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by William James)