Nicola Sturgeon cancels Edinburgh Hogmanay street party amid new restrictions
She also discussed the possibility of the return to online learning at universities
This afternoon, Nicola Sturgeon announced new Covid restrictions and has cancelled Hogmanay celebrations like the Princes Street street party and the torchlit procession along the Royal Mile.
She has also discussed the possibility of a return to online learning in unis and colleges at the start of the next semester in January.
The new rules come into force on Boxing Day and will affect large gatherings as well as hospitality venues like clubs, pubs, and restaurants. They are supposed to last for three weeks before being reviewed.
During this time, there will be limits on the numbers of people allowed to gather and one metre social distancing will be reintroduced.
In practice, these restrictions will likely see the return to table service only in pubs, bars, and clubs. Why Not have already announced they will be closed for three weeks and Hive have told The Edinburgh Tab they found the new restrictions “not even slightly clear”.
What are the new rules?
In terms of gatherings, outdoor events will be capped at 500 people whilst indoor seated events are limited to 200 people, and indoor standing events can have only 100 people in attendance.
Groups at these gatherings must also be socially distanced by one metre and it is recommended – although not legally required – that groups should be made up of no more than three households.
In hospitality, one metre social distancing is also back as is table service for any alcoholic drinks. Again, the Scottish Government have recommended – but not required – tables or groups to be made up of three households maximum.
No explicit guidance has been given on nightlife venues like clubs. But as indoor standing event venues that serve alcohol their capacity will be capped at 100, they will need to operate table service for drinks, and groups will have to be one metre socially distanced.
Some clubs have already announced they will be closed for the three weeks restrictions are in place whilst others are considering a return to being open as table service bars.
Outdoor sporting events like professional football matches will effectively be played behind closed doors and all indoor contact sport will be banned.
These restrictions do not come into force until Boxing Day which means celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will not be affected.
What do the new restrictions mean for universities?
Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament: “Colleges and universities are assessing any steps they need to take for the new term, and some are returning to a default model of online learning for the start of the new term.
“I think everybody has suffered through these last two years and children and young people have suffered disproportionately particularly given the very important stage of their of their lives and their education so my views on that are very clear.”
However, this potential return to online uni is being considered despite other indoor seated events like theatres being allowed to host 200 people at one metre social distancing.
The Edinburgh Tab spoke to students about Sturgeon’s comments. One Edi third year simply replied: “For fucks sake – not again”.
Meanwhile, Belinda, a Marine Biology MSc student at Heriot Watt told us she thought it was “ridiculous” that other indoor venues like pubs, restaurants, and theatres could stay open but not “actual lecture theatres”. She also said: “I’ll be fuming if I can’t go into a lab or have go on a ‘virtual field trip’ again”.
What else was announced?
Covid cases in Scotland have more than doubled in the past week from about 3500 a day to almost 5500 a day.
The biggest increase in cases was found in the 20 to 24 age bracket at 161 per cent.
Sturgeon also told MSPs that there was “no compelling evidence” that Omicron was milder than previous variants.