Sturgeon forced to make bizarre promise after grim Christmas warning – ‘Won’t be normal’

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National clinical director Professor Jason Leitch warned large family gatherings over the festive period will be “fiction” this year. But the Scottish First Minister was forced to insist Father Christmas is a key worker after facing a series of questions over his comments.

Asked about grotto’s having to use Zoom, Ms Sturgeon’s said: “I know Santa will not be prevented from delivering your presents on Christmas Eve.

“Santa is a key worker and he has got lots of magic powers that make him safe to do that.

“If he is having to do grotto appearances by Zoom, that is to keep you safe, it is not because he is at any risk.

“Santa will be delivering presents across the world as normal.”

The SNP leader’s promise came after Prof Leitch warned Christmas will not be normal this year.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Christmas is not going to be normal, there is absolutely no question about that.

“We’re not going to have large family groupings with multiple families around, that is fiction for this year.

“I am hopeful, if we can get the numbers down to a certain level, we may be able to get some form of normality.

“People should get their digital Christmas ready.”

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said Prof Leitch wanted “to be frank with people”.

She added that he had tried to “not prematurely rule things out, but equally not to give people false assurances”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I want us to be able to celebrate Christmas as normally as it is possible to do within the context of a global pandemic.

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“My message to people is that the more we all stick with these really difficult restrictions right now, the more chance there will be of us doing that.

“Some of the really tough, additional things that government is deciding on right now – restrictions on hospitality for example – and any other restrictions we feel necessary to put in place will also be in part about trying to deal decisively with an upsurge in the virus now so we give ourselves the best chance of greater normality at Christmas.”

After facing a barrage of questions about Prof Leitch’s comments from journalists, Ms Sturgeon joked she would make him dress up as the Grinch.

She said: “Since I’m spending so much time responding to Jason’s comments today, I should make him dress up as the Grinch for Halloween and do a briefing to cheer everybody up.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie fumed that Scots will be “devastated to hear that Christmas as they know it is cancelled”.

He said: “Many will rightly question whether the Government have used the past six months as well as they could have to expand testing, shore up our NHS and prepare for a second wave.

“If the Government expects months more of sacrifices it needs to be honest with the public – Nicola Sturgeon must release the data and projections underpinning these proposals and allow the public to debate them openly.”

The Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland, said: “Christmas this year might feel very different to what we’re used to but despite the challenges, church congregations are continuing to offer support and services, prayers and meetings using technology, as well as limited in-person worship gatherings.

“We will be praying for people who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering due to the impact of Covid-19 and for all those who will, for whatever reason, find the Christmas period difficult, emotionally and psychologically.

“We expect celebrations this year will be smaller and low-key, but in the quieter moments there may be the opportunity to reflect on who and what really matters at Christmas and on the Christmas story itself.”

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