Covid in Scotland: What does Nicola Sturgeon say about working from home – and changes to social distancing?

Scotland’s First Minister has announced work-from-home guidance will be updated to allow staff to begin returning to the workplace “in phases”.

Nicola Sturgeon announced new changes around working from home guidelines, social distancing rules and mask requirements such as Scotlandfurther easing Covid measures.

The further reduction Covid-19 Measures are put in place after Scotland’s provisional Omicron restrictions – including limiting crowds at events and forcing the closure of nightclubs – were lifted from January 24.

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Here’s everything you need to know about today’s announcement.

What does Nicola Sturgeon say about working from home?

The first minister said new Work from home instruction will see the transition from fully working from home to a more “combined” model.

The hybrid approach is typically when an employee continues to work from home for part of their work week, while commuting to work on other days.

Ms Sturgeon said a more tailored hybrid approach would “pave the way for a phased return to the office”.

The hybrid model would avoid a “massive return” to the office, which could put pressure again on Scotland’s Covid situation.

“We wouldn’t expect to see a mass return of wholesale to the office next week – indeed, given the level of infection despite the decline remains high, the mass return,” she said. At this stage there is the possibility of delaying progress.

“But we do know that there are many benefits to both workers and employers, and to the economy as a whole, at least partially back to the office at this stage.”

Employers will be required to begin facilitating a combined approach for workers from Monday, January 31.

What does Nicola Sturgeon say about social distancing and face coverings?

In her speech to the Scottish Parliament, she also announced that social distancing would be reduced to one meter in locations where face masks are exempt.

This includes religious services and locations where reception duties are performed.

Currently, such rules require social distancing of two meters between groups of households.

The new one meter rule will be in effect from Friday, January 28.

“From Friday, any adult who participates in organized activities will no longer be required to wear a face covering when they are interacting directly with children under the age of five,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Additionally, the First Minister said that mask rules in secondary schools were being reviewed with “careful consideration”, although there were no immediate plans to scrap the rule.

“In terms of face coverings, I know young people want to see their backside as soon as possible,” she said.

“But I also know that many young people understand and agree – especially as cases at younger ages are on the rise – that face coverings actually provide important protection.

“So this is an issue that should and will be looked at carefully.”

What are the current Covid rules in Scotland?

As of Monday 24 January Scotland’s temporary Omicron restrictions have been lifted.

This means that there is currently no limit to the number of attendees allowed at indoor or outdoor events.

Nightclubs have also been allowed to reopen, after they were forced to close on Gift Day.

Limits on the number of households that can gather at entertainment venues have been removed, and pubs, bars and restaurants are no longer required to provide table service.

Indoor sports are back for adults, too.

Masks are still required in some indoor public places such as public transport.

The self-isolation period for someone who tests positive is currently seven days, but only if a negative lateral flow test is produced on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Huynh Nguyen

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