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  • New advice to reduce spread of Omicron variant in the run-up to Christmas.

    Created: 11/12/2021, Updated: 16/12/2021

    Additional measures to manage the increased risks of transmission associated with Omicron.

    As Omicron continues to spread, the Scottish Government is setting out new guidance and measures to take effect from midnight on Friday 17 December 2021 to stem the flow of transmission, keep businesses and services open, and protect against pressure on health services.

    Evidence shows that the new, highly transmissible Omicron strain of COVID-19 can infect those who have been vaccinated, or previously infected. Therefore it is considered necessary to reintroduce some protections to prevent hospital admissions.

    Guidance has been updated on reducing social interaction at home or in indoor public places to a maximum of three households at any time, with everyone encouraged to take a lateral flow test before meeting. This will also be reflected in updated guidance for visiting care homes – with no more than two households to visit a resident at a time – and in hospitals, with no more than two visitors at any time. In all settings, people should take a lateral flow test before meeting, to support people to continue to connect with their loved ones.

    Additional funding of £100 million to ensure the Self-Isolation Support Grant is available to those who need it, and a £100 million financial package for eligible businesses is to be made available. 

    Business support funding has been allocated to enhance adherence to the necessary public health measures and support businesses in hospitality and food supply and in the culture sector that have lost crucial bookings during this key trading period. The Finance Secretary will be engaging with affected sectors immediately to consult on and confirm the details of support and money will be available as soon as possible. 

    The COVID-19 booster programme continues to accelerate, with the online portal for 18-29 year-olds opening on Wednesday 15 December and the waiting period following vaccination reduced from 15 minutes to five minutes (visit NHS Inform for more information). COVID-19 booster jabs will be prioritised over the remainder of the flu vaccination programme to speed up vaccination times and enable more appointments.


    From 11 December, all household contacts of any confirmed coronavirus (COVID 19) case must isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status - even if they initially get a negative PCR test.

    Workplaces are also advised to cancel any Christmas parties or gatherings.

    The new isolation requirement and advice have been introduced following a rapid rise in case numbers and on the back of a Scottish Government evidence paper outlining the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

    The evidence paper:

    • Estimates that Omicron cases will double every two to three days and are likely to account for more than half the cases within Scotland by next week.
    • Highlights that a rapid rise in Omicron infections could put significant additional pressure on hospitals and other health and care services, close to the point in the winter when they are already likely to be at peak pressure
    • States the number of cases could potentially cause great disruption to other services and businesses as more people are forced to self-isolate

    As well as following all public health measures – getting vaccinated, wearing face coverings, regular hand washing and isolating when required to – the Scottish Government strongly advises lateral flow testing in advance of meeting up with others.

    This Easy Read guidance highlights the above in an accessible format.

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