NICOLA STURGEON has confirmed Scottish football will be allowed to return to full capacity crowds from next week - but with two important changes.

The First Minister confirmed in a statement to the Scottish Parliament that restrictions on large events - which had reduced fan numbers to 500 - will be eased from Monday 17.

It means Scottish Premiership fixtures which resume on January 17/18 after the winter break will be permitted to host capacity crowds.

But there are two changes to the requirements for entry into major outdoor sporting events regarding vaccination status.

Firstly, organisers of events will be required to check the vaccination status of at least 1,000 and up to 50 per cent of those attending the event. 

It means matches with 60,000 spectators will be required to have 30,000 of those attending checked for Covid vaccine certification.

Events with just over 1,000 will have to carry out the minimum 1,000 person check threshold under the new rules.

The second change is to the vaccination certification itself. Ms Sturgeon announced that new rules will require those attending events to have received the booster jab in order to qualify as fully vaccinated.

The NHS Covid status app will be updated to show evidence of first and second doses and the booster vaccination. The exception to the rule will be those who have received their second vaccine within four months.

Announcing the changes to fan numbers at outdoor sporting events, Ms Sturgeon said: 

“It is reasonable and right to be hopeful on the strength of the latest data, however for the period ahead, it is also prudent to remain careful and cautious. 

“This is the balance of judgement that has formed the decisions that the cabinet reached this morning. 

“As I indicated earlier we will begin to lift the protective measures announced before Christmas from Monday but we will do that in a phased way that will allow us in the days ahead to form a clearer picture of the trends in infection and the associated impacts. 

“The measures I am specifically referring to are limits on live public events, the requirement for distancing between groups in public indoor places and the requirement for table service in hospitality venues serving alcohol on the premises. 

“I expect to confirm further dates next week, however, I can confirm today that the attendance limit of 500 at large scale outdoor events will be lifted from Monday, January 17. 

"That means, for example, spectators will be permitted again at major outdoor sporting events including football fixtures scheduled for early next week and the forthcoming Six Nations rugby matches.

"The Covid certification scheme will remain in place for these and other events and venues previously covered - but with two important changes.

"Firstly our guidance will now stipulate that the organisers of large events of 1000 or more people should check the certification status of at least 50 per cent of attendees rather than the current 20 per cent or at least 1000 people, whichever figure is highest.

"And second, from Monday the requirement to be fully vaccinated for the purposes of Covid certification will include having a booster if the second dose was more than four months ago. 

"The NHS Covid status app for domestic use will be updated from Thursday so that its QR code includes evidence of booster vaccination. 

"It will also be possible to order updated paper and PDF copies of vaccination status which are now valid for three months and it will still be possible to gain admission to events and venues covered by the certification scheme by providing proof of a recent negative lateral flow test.

"Cabinet will next review the data at our meeting a week today and I hope this will allow us to lift the other protective measures; limits on indoor live events, table service in hospitality and distancing in indoor public places from the 24th of January."