City leaders urge people of Edinburgh to stay at home on Hogmanay

A year ago it was hailed for hosting the world’s best “bucket list” event.

Fireworks light up the sky over Edinburgh during the celebrations to herald the arrival of 2020. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Fireworks light up the sky over Edinburgh during the celebrations to herald the arrival of 2020. Picture: Ian Georgeson

But now the people of Edinburgh are being urged to stay indoors on Hogmanay to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Council leaders have pleaded with the public to “stay home and stay safe” as they ruled out staging any official displays to mark the arrival of 2021.

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People will instead be urged to watch a programme of specially-created online events, which will be broadcast from 28 December to New Year’s Day.

More than 75,000 revellers normally flock to Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations. Picture: Liam Anderstrem

Police chiefs have also urged every member of the public in Edinburgh to “take personal responsibility to do the right thing” by following current restrictions in the city, which ban any household gatherings and only allow six people from a maximum of two households to meet outdoors.

Police Scotland has ruled out restricting access to any parts of the city centre on Hogmanay.

However the force has insisted that it will have “appropriate resources” in place to ensure it can respond to ensure that restrictions on large gatherings are enforced and it can respond to any incidents.

The city council has been exploring options for alternative ways to celebrate the new year in Edinburgh, which normally attracts around 75,000 revellers to its celebrations, since the shutdown of live events in the spring.

Although the street party was called off in July, the council later unveiled plans to stage a torchlight celebration of the key workers who had been involved in tackling the pandemic, to replace the traditional fire parade through the city centre, as well a “series of visually spectacular moments across the city.”

Although actors David Tennant, Siobhan Redmond and Lorne Macfadyen, Scots Makar Jackie Kay and Skye electronica band Niteworks will all be involved in this year’s online Hogmanay celebration, organisers insist there will be nothing to see in the city centre.

Donald Wilson, culture convener at the city council, said: “The best place to celebrate Hogmanay this year will be at home within your household.

“Public safety is and always will be our number one priority. Under current guidelines this unfortunately means that any public events, activities or reason for people to gather, such as fireworks or light shows is not possible.

“So let’s be very clear, the message this year is stay home and stay safe. The battle against this virus is far from over and we can only hope that next year brings the return to normality that we all hope for.”

Chief Superintendent Sean Scott, divisional commander for Edinburgh, said: "We would advise people to continue to take personal responsibility to do the right thing.

"Celebrate Hogmanay safely by following the regulations on indoor and outdoor gatherings and the Scottish Government's guidance, which are all designed to stop the virus from spreading and to save lives.

“I’m acutely aware the cancellation of the street party does not mean the cancellation of people’s desire to celebrate.

“I implore everyone to continue to follow the Scottish Government guidance and ensure they mark the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 with members of their own household.

“There are many open spaces and famous gathering points within our great city but please remember that meeting large numbers of people, even if it’s outside, is not permitted."

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