Hogmanay 2020: what Nicola Sturgeon has said about New Year’s Eve celebrations in Scotland - and household mixing rules explained

Will Covid restrictions be relaxed over Hogmanay as they have been for the Christmas period?

As the Scottish Government announced a plan to allow families to come together for Christmas, many people have been wondering where that leaves Hogmanay celebrations.

The government, along with the other UK nations, agreed to relax some coronavirus restrictions over the festive period.

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Hogmanay is arguably a bigger celebration than Christmas for some Scots, as thousands of people usually take to the streets in Edinburgh for the country’s biggest New Years Eve celebrations.

Thousands of people usually gather in Edinburgh for the world-famous Hogmanay celebrations (Shutterstock)

Here’s what we know so far about the government’s Hogmanay plans.

What are the rules for Christmas?

A maximum of three households will now be able to meet in a “bubble” between 23 and 27 December.

These households will be able to travel between local authorities and between UK countries, despite the current travel ban in Tier 3 and Tier 4 areas in Scotland.

Will Covid rules be relaxed for Hogmanay?

Due to coronavirus, all Hogmanay events, including the one in the capital, have been cancelled, with families wondering if they will be allowed to see in the new year together instead.

While a four nations strategy was agreed to ease Covid rules at Christmas, Nicola Sturgeon has said she does not expect a similar relaxing of restrictions for Hogmanay.

Speaking at her daily media briefing on 23 November, Ms Sturgeon said: "We have to consider that the tradition of Hogmanay and New Year's Day dinner is more established in Scotland than other parts of the UK, but I do not expect we will be announcing any particular relaxations over the New Year period.”

She added that the government “can’t do everything”, saying devising a plan for the Christmas period had been “hard enough”.

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

Why are there no plans to ease restrictions for Hogmanay?

The First Minister said Christmas is a “more important time for kids”, and that it is likely to be a time when families are reluctant to leave relatives on their own.

Nicola Sturgeon is also anxious to prevent a fresh wave of new virus cases in January, after families meet up for the five days over the festive period.

She has already warned families that they still need to be “sensible and careful” when they mix over Christmas to prevent a surge in infections.

Fears over the possible rising of infection levels in the new year might have influenced her decision not to extend the easing of rules to Hogmanay celebrations.

What will the rules be for at home Hogmanay celebrations?

If the government does not relax rules for Hogmanay, Scots will be very limited when it comes to celebrations.

Under all protection levels implemented by the Scottish Government, no households are able to mix inside homes, except from those in the three island health boards who are able to meet one other household indoors.

It is only under Level 0, “nearly normal”, that indoor meetings are allowed for the rest of Scotland, with a maximum of eight people from three households.

Public celebrations will also be limited for all levels, with the different hospitality curfews meaning people will not be able to see in the Hogmanay bells in a pub or restaurant.

Those under Level 1 restrictions can only meet one other household in a pub or restaurant, which have a 10:30pm curfew.

Under Level 2 restrictions, you can also meet with another household in a pub or restaurant, but there is an 8pm curfew. Alcohol can also only be served with a main meal.

And under Level 3 restrictions, you can meet another household in a pub or restaurant, but there is a 6pm curfew and alcohol cannot be served.

Finally, under the harshest Level 4 restrictions, you can still meet another household in a public place - but all hospitality venues in these areas are currently closed.

Small outdoor celebrations are possible, with Levels 2, 3 and 4 able to meet one other household in a private garden or public place, up to six people.

People under Level 1 restrictions can meet with two other households outside in a private garden or public place, up to eight people.

Could the rules change before Hogmanay?

The Scottish Government has not published official guidance for Hogmanay yet, and the situation could still change in the run up to January.

The current Covid restrictions are being reviewed weekly, with Nicola Sturgeon announcing any changes to protection levels on Tuesdays, with new rules coming into place the following Friday.

The next review announcement will be on Tuesday 1 December, with a total of five more announcements before the new year.

This means that there is still time for the government to set out a plan for Hogmanay, whatever the restrictions may be.

But the First Minister seemed adamant that she did not expect any relaxations to come into place over the new year period.