Coronavirus in Scotland: Restrictions over Hogmanay not expected to ease, says Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government “do not expect” to announce any “particular relaxations” over the New Year period as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admitted that the government “can’t do everything” and “Christmas is hard enough” to cover.

Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations last year after the First Minister announced today it is not expected that there will be an easing of lockdown restrictions for this year's celebrations (Photo: Ian Georgeson).
Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations last year after the First Minister announced today it is not expected that there will be an easing of lockdown restrictions for this year's celebrations (Photo: Ian Georgeson).

The news comes after Ms Sturgeon said that an announcement would come later in the week regarding a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas which would allow families to celebrate in their ‘festive bubbles.’

The Cabinet Office said ministers from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland had endorsed a ‘”shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days.”

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Speaking today at her daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: “Given the nature of Christmas and the additional worry and responsibility we feel about being with family and loved ones particularly those who are on their own, there just might be more of a possibility that some people will not set out to blatantly flout the rules but will try to push the boundaries of them.

"Rather than just allow that to be uncontrolled we are coming from this on how do we build a bit of flexibility without throwing caution to the wind and maybe that’s the wrong thing to do and we should stick to the rules but we’ve come at this with trying to understand the additional pressures people are under over Christmas and find a sensible way through that.”

However, Ms Sturgeon also stated that this potential festive easing is not expected to be be considered for New Year as she stated today that the Scottish Government are not trying to reach an agreement with the four nations of the UK to cover a relaxation of lockdown over Hogmanay.

Speaking at the briefing, the First Minister said: “Just accepting reality, Hogmanay and the tradition of New Year’s day dinner is a bit more established in Scotland than it might be in some other parts of the UK so we have to consider that but I do not expect that we will be announcing any particular relaxations over the New Year period and why not? Because we can’t do everything. The Christmas thing is hard enough.

“Why Christmas and not New Year? Well maybe Christmas is a more important time for kids and I think for most of us even if we value New Year, Christmas is still the time when families are more likely to want to not have someone on their own.

"People just really have to understand that Christmas may just be a big enough ask for us and may involve difficult enough decisions without that extending to another part of the festive period.”

The First Minister also clarified that regardless of what happens, this Christmas will still not be a ‘normal one’ for the people of Scotland but we can ‘see a light at the end of this tunnel’ given the news of vaccines such as the Oxford vaccine which was announced this morning to have a 70% effective rate in preventing Coronavirus.

There will be an announcement tomorrow around the current levels of restrictions in Scotland, with East Lothian expected to drop from level three to level two.

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