Scotland is in a better position on Covid than was feared before Christmas, Nicola Sturgeon has said, ahead of her update to Holyrood on Tuesday.
The First Minister will make a statement to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament a day after restrictions were eased.
On Monday, limits on the number of people that can attend large outdoor public events were removed.
It means that there can once again be full capacity stadiums in Scotland, with the return of the Scottish Premiership following its winter break and ahead of the Six Nations.
However, currently restrictions on indoor sports, events and venues remain in place.
Sturgeon has previously expressed her hope that it will be possible to lift restrictions on indoor events on January 24.
However, the SNP leader explained that there is still a need for caution due to the acute pressure on the NHS.
“I think everybody wants to see Covid end so it follows that everybody – me included – wants to see all restrictions end,” she told the PA News Agency on Monday.
“I hope we’ll be able to follow the trajectory I set out last week when I make my statement tomorrow, but the cabinet needs to look at all of the up-to-date data tomorrow and come to decisions.
“Looking at that data right now, we’ve got reasons to continue to be cautiously optimistic that we’re turning the corner on this Omicron wave.
“That’s because people have responded magnificently, they’ve behaved in a way that’s helped stem to some extent the transmission of Omicron and we took sensible, balanced, proportionate steps.
“So we’re in a better position than I feared we would be before Christmas. But there’s still a need for caution because the health service, for example, continues to be under very, very acute pressure.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives have called for the Scottish Government to start removing all Covid restrictions – apart from the wearing of face coverings in public places – from next month.
Douglas Ross, the party’s leader, said that the current rules-based approach should be phased out in favour of public health advice that people can use to keep themselves safe.
“The Scottish Government’s own data shows that we are past the peak of Omicron. The latest evidence means we can now be far more optimistic,” he said.
“Protecting mental health, physical health and Scottish jobs is every bit as important as slowing the spread of Covid.
“Our economy and the long-term health of the public must not be held back any longer than necessary.
“We believe the balance must now tip in favour of trusting the Scottish public to do the right thing and keep themselves and their families safe, as they have done throughout this pandemic.”
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