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Sturgeon tells Scots not to expect easing of restrictions for Hogmanay

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that any easing of Covid-19 controls over Christmas will not last into Hogmanay and the new year period in Scotland, despite Hogmanay’s cultural significance.

She said that while no final decision had yet been taken, she expected the Covid physical distancing travel, shopping and hospitality regulations will be reimposed after they are briefly eased over Christmas.

She confirmed the UK’s four governments are close to announcing a UK-wide easing of the restrictions for a limited number of days over Christmas, involving a maximum of three families, and some potential relaxation of travel rules. But it would not include New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

She told the briefing:


I do not expect that we will be announcing any particular relaxations over the new year period. 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. I think for most of us, even if we value New Year, Christmas is still the time when families are more likely to not want to have somebody on their own.

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


Coronavirus Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon gives briefing – watch live

If people were allowed to mingle at Christmas, it increased the risks the virus would spread if Hogmanay events went ahead too, she said.

While its importance has been diluted over recent decades with the surge in the popularity and commercialisation of Christmas, the Hogmanay period has historically been of greater social significance in Scotland.

The period is marked in Scotland by large New Year’s Eve parties and family gatherings, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival and fireworks, and mass participation events such as the Loony Dook sea swim near the Forth bridge on New Year’s day. These organised events have already been cancelled.

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The Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, has raised the prospect of a new Covid tier system being introduced in Wales.

Following its 17-day “firebreak” lockdown, the Welsh government brought in a national set of Covid restrictions, arguing this was better to have one system for the whole of Wales.

But speaking at the Welsh government’s press conference, Gething suggested there might advantages to be common approaches across the UK not just over Christmas but in the run-up to the festive period.

He did not say there would definitely be a tiered system but posed the question: “Would there be a benefit for all of us having a more common set of measures ahead of Christmas?”

Asked about a rise in Covid cases in Cardigan, south-west Wales, which has been blamed by the local authority on parties and pub crawls, Gething said: “The challenge is not to think we can go back to the old normal.”

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