Hogmanay 2021 Covid rules: Is Edinburgh event cancelled?

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Scotland is under strict coronavirus control measures, differing from other parts of the UK as the Omicron variant leads to varied responses. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government’s priority was to ensure schools can re-open as normal after the Christmas holidays, and as such would be enforcing limits on social contact from Boxing Day.

So are Hogmanay celebrations cancelled?

Unfortunately, all Hogmanay celebrations across Scotland have been cancelled for the second year running.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 21 website states that it is “with great sadness” that its programme has had to be cancelled.

The cancellations include all planned events – the street party, the torch-lit procession and the midnight firework display.

The cancellations come as Scotland limits all outdoor events to just 500 people to help slow the spread of Omicron.

Indoor events such as concerts will be limited to 200 people if they are seated, or 100 for standing.

Sporting events, including the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers on January 2 and the Edinburgh derby between Hearts and Hibs the following day are among the football fixtures that will be affected by the new rules.

The government fears that last Sunday’s League Cup Final in front of a capacity crowd at Hampden may have been a “super spreader” event, with Deputy First Minister John Swinney saying he regrets not making the decision to play matches without spectators sooner.

Physical distancing of 1m will now need to be in place for all events that do go ahead under the restrictions.

Pubs and other hospitality venues selling alcohol will need to reintroduce table service from 27 December.

And indoor hospitality and leisure venues will be required to ensure there is a 1m distance between groups of people who are attending together – which could force nightclubs to close.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This will of course make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free over this three week period.

“And it will also mean that large-scale Hogmanay celebrations – including that planned here in our capital city – will not proceed.”

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Ms Sturgeon said the much higher transmissibility of the new variant meant that large gatherings “have the potential to become very rapid super-spreader events, putting large numbers at risk of getting infected very quickly”.

She added: “Limiting these events helps reduce the risk of widespread transmission. It also cuts down the transmission risks associated with travel to and from such events

“And these large events put an additional burden on emergency services, especially the police and ambulance services.

“At a time when these services are already under severe pressure and also dealing with high staff absences, limiting large scale events will help them focus on delivering essential services to the public.”

However, the Federation of Small Business said the new measures would make trading “drastically more difficult for huge numbers of small businesses in Scotland”.

Policy chair Andrew McRae said: “The social distancing restrictions will mean shops and hospitality firms can serve fewer customers.

“And the changes to events, such as sports matches and Hogmanay celebrations, will have a knock-on impact on local economies.”

The Scottish Licensed Traders Association said the restrictions would be a “knockout blow” to many businesses that were already struggling because of the pandemic.

The Scottish government will now double the £100m it had already pledged to businesses hit by new Omicron restrictions.

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