The start of a key week in Scotland's Covid fight

This week will be a major test of the Scottish Government’s approach to easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

The European Championships are set to begin on Friday, with the largest programme of in-person events Scotland has seen since the start of the pandemic to take place over the next month in Glasgow.

Two sessions of up to 3,000 fans – 6,000 in total – each day will watch football matches in “fan zones” at Glasgow Green, while Hampden Park will be filled to 25 per cent capacity (12,000 people) for four games.

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It’s a hugely ambitious return to not-quite-normal, and it comes less than a week after Glasgow finally entered level two restrictions, and amid warnings from Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland is at a “crucial juncture”.

Signage being put up at a music festival in Sefton Park in Liverpool as part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP). Picture date: Sunday May 2, 2021.

Cases have risen sharply recently, and hospital admissions have also shown a slight increase.

The Delta variant, now dominant in Scotland, is known to be more transmissible than the previous strain, and there are questions over whether it causes more serious disease – but more research is needed.

Even the UK Government, much less cautious in its pandemic approach, is beginning to baulk, with Matt Hancock admitting that the promised easing on June 21 may be delayed.

In this atmosphere, many in Glasgow may be asking themselves how on earth it is possible that a city so maligned in the fight against Covid, put into lockdown before Christmas and kept under restrictions for longer than anywhere else, can now be the sight of such a major experiment.

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Others are angry that while they cannot attend their own child’s sports day due to restrictions, they could be allowed to gather with thousands of others for a football match.

Cancelling the plans of thousands of people already frustrated by repeated delays to unlocking is unlikely to end with everyone quietly sitting at home, especially during good weather.

Equally, the Scottish Government will find it hard to convince people that sacrifices are needed in future if the third wave begins to spiral after these events.

Measures like mandatory testing have been suggested by several experts, but the government has so far resisted this. Final decisions on the event will be made this week.

Whatever happens, this huge experiment will be a crucial tipping point in Scotland’s winding route back to normal.

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