NIGHTCLUBS will close for THREE WEEKS in Scotland over Omicron fears -mounting the pressure on Boris Johnson.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney ordered nightclubs to close for at least three weeks from December 27 as coronavirus cases continue to rocket with the new strain.

An amendment to coronavirus regulations published on Thursday ordered clubs to close in Scotland, unless they could operate "within regulation".

New restrictions will mean that hospitality businesses can continue to operate with table service and a one-metre social distancing measure must be followed.

From Boxing Day, there will be new restrictions on the size of live events with the exception of private gatherings such as weddings for at least three weeks, when rules will be reviewed.

Under new rules, 500 people will be allowed at large outdoor events seated or standing but Ms Sturgeon said live sport would be "effectively spectator free" in a blow to footie fans.

For indoor events, there will be a limit of 100 standing and 200 seated.

Mr Swinney made the announcement before the Covid-19 Recovery Committee at Holyrood.

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He said: "Having engaged with the sector, we now propose to require that nightclubs should not operate as such for this three-week period.

"While it would be open to them to operate with distancing and table service and that option will remain, we consider that closure in regulation, combined with financial support, may reduce losses and help these businesses weather what we hope would be a short period until they are able to operate normally again."

On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon: "She told MSPs: "From 27 December, again for a three-week period – we intend to introduce some further protections in hospitality settings and other indoor public places to reduce transmission risk in what are, through no fault of those who run such venues, higher-risk environments.

"I can confirm that a requirement for table service-only will be reintroduced for venues serving alcohol for consumption on the premises.

"And we will also ask indoor hospitality and leisure venues to ensure one-metre distance, not within, but between groups of people who are attending together."

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Omicron is now firmly established as the dominant strain of coronavirus in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon has said.

Updating MSPs, the First Minister said 62.9 per cent of cases showed the S-gene dropout.

She said: "It is currently spreading rapidly across Scotland, and so the steep increase in infections that was predicted last week has now started to materialise."

Ms Sturgeon urged people to drastically cut down on socialising now so families can enjoy Christmas together.

"Crucially, between now and Christmas Day cut your contact with people in other households as much as possible, minimalise socialising with others either at home or in indoor public places.

"Stay at home as much as is feasible. This is the best way of avoiding getting Covid and having to isolate over Christmas or inadvertently spreading infection when you do meet up with others."

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson will not announce any lockdown restrictions before Christmas Day – as new data shows the Omicron variant IS weaker.

LIGHTS OUT

Downing Street was spurred on by new glimmers of hope after it emerged the mutant strain is less lethal and powerless against jabs.

Two bombshell UK studies revealed Omicron appears half as likely to put people in hospital as the Delta variant.

The findings, announced by Professor Neil Ferguson – dubbed Prof Lockdown – encouraged the PM to delay any announcements of potential restrictions.

He said vaccines remain our best defence against Covid, while those who have previously been infected will also have some immunity.

Thousands of Brits have already signed up to The Sun's Jabs Army campaign in bid to slow the spread of Omicron this winter.

But the PM confirmed that just two jabs are not enough to fight the new mutant strain saying: “The most important thing we can all do is to get a jab.”

Despite the good news, Wales and Northern Ireland have been plunged into further restrictions from Boxing Day – with the PM urged not to follow down that path for England just yet.

This comes as a further 106,122 Brits tested positive for the virus yesterday- with 13,581 new cases of the Omicron strain reported.


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