What are the post-Christmas Covid rules in Scotland?
Coronavirus rules announced by Nicola Sturgeon before Christmas and which came into effect earlier this week include:
– Large-scale public live events have been made ‘effectively spectator-free’ for three weeks from Boxing Day. For indoor standing events the attendance limit is set at 100 people, for indoor seated events it is 200 and for outdoor events 500 seated or standing. The rules do not apply to private life events like weddings but they do apply to football matches.
– Restrictions on live crowds mean big Hogmanay celebrations on New Year’s Eve are banned.
– Pubs and restaurants which serve alcohol returned to table service-only from December 27, also for an initial three week period. Indoor hospitality and leisure venues are required to ensure there is one metre social distancing between different groups of people.
– People have been urged to limit social contacts ‘as much as you possibly can’ from December 27 until at least the end of the first week in January. Ms Sturgeon has said people should ‘stay at home as much as is feasible’ and ‘when you do go out, maintain physical distancing from people not in your own group’.
Groups of excited Scots are already arriving south of the border to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Newcastle in defiance of Nicola Sturgeon‘s tough Covid rules.
The SNP leader has shut nightclubs and banned large groups from going out drinking – but with looser restrictions in England revellers are choosing to go there instead.
Even tougher restrictions in Wales are expected to prompt a similar flow of partygoers into English cities like Bristol and Chester.
Newcastle is a particular draw given its proximity to Scotland and famously lively party scene, and today there was a steady flow of Scots arriving at Central Station.
Sarah Hall, 23, had travelled from Dunbar and is combining a NYE night out with her friend’s birthday. She told MailOnline: ‘Me and my friends are here for two days, we’ve been before and I enjoy coming because it’s a good night out and the people are nicer.
‘We don’t have any plans at the moment, we’re just going to see where we end up. I do find it ridiculous that we can’t go out at home, but we can in Newcastle.
We’ve been jabbed and we’ve been boosted. We still can’t live our lives despite that and we’re being penalised for it.’
Taylor Houston, 18, had come down from Dundee with a small group of pals before meeting some more later in the day.
The factory worker said: ‘We wanted to come somewhere special for New Year. This is my first time in Newcastle and I want to make this year enjoyable.
‘We would normally be out locally and that’s what we would have done if allowed, but it wouldn’t have been much fun with the restrictions in place. I think it’s wrong that the restrictions are different in Scotland, but that’s Nicola Sturgeon for you.’
Taylor Houston, 18, (centre) had come down from Dundee with a small group of pals before meeting some more later in the day. He said: ‘I think it’s wrong that the restrictions are different in Scotland, but that’s Nicola Sturgeon for you’
Sarah Hall, 23, (middle) had travelled from Dunbar and is combining a NYE night out with her friend’s birthday
People arriving at Kings Cross on a train from Scotland. There were several other stops on the way which passengers may have boarded at
No tests before NYE: LFTs run out AGAIN and officials say people will struggle to get PCRs ‘anywhere within 48 hours’
By Stephen Matthews, Health Editor for MailOnline
Almost 200,000 people in Britain are getting ill with Covid every day, according to one of the country’s largest surveillance studies which predicts the milestone will be breached within days.
King’s College London experts – who monitor the outbreak using a symptom-tracking app – estimate infections jumped 33 per cent in a week to around 192,000 per day.
But the team hailed promising signs that the exponential growth phase of the Omicron outbreak has ‘stopped’. Dr Claire Steves, one of the experts behind the app, said the rise is now ‘more steady’ and cautioned that up to three-quarters of people with cold-like symptoms probably have Covid.
It fits with data suggesting the wave may have already peaked in London, which was the first region to be battered by the ultra-infectious variant which evidence shows is causing milder disease than previous strains.
However, hospitals in the capital have already breached the key 400-a-day admissions threshold that could trigger the Government to make a nationwide intervention.
Taylor’s friend PJ Burke, also from Dundee, had organised the trip.
The 18-year-old, who works at Wickes DIY, added: ‘We wanted to come here because we’ve heard it’s a good night out and we can’t go out properly at home due to the rules.
‘It’s about three hours in total from Dundee to Edinburgh and then to Newcastle but it should be worth it. It’s our first time here but it’s supposed to be really good and we didn’t want to stay in.
‘We’re going to a nightclub for New Year’s Eve and we’re staying near St James’ Park so it’s ideal. The restrictions are frustrating but we’re excited to be spending it here.’
The Scottish First Minister announced a ban on large gatherings last week which torpedoed Hogmanay festivities and this afternoon she insisted the crackdown is necessary to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
Ms Sturgeon said it is ‘prudent’ and ‘essential’ to take action to reduce transmission of the disease in order to ‘avoid the sheer volume of cases overwhelming us’.
Some 15,849 positive cases were recorded in Scotland yesterday – the highest number of the pandemic ‘by some margin’ – while 679 people were in hospital, 80 more than the previous day.
Ms Sturgeon also faced criticism after she failed to cut coronavirus isolation times for those with the virus in Scotland. England has cut the wait from 10 days to seven but the SNP leader said the matter is still being looked at.
The decision to stick with the ban on large socialising events sparked anger among hospitality firms as they warned the sector is ‘on its knees’ in Scotland.
UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson told the BBC that Ms Sturgeon’s Covid curbs are ‘absolutely hammering’ businesses and ‘there is really going to very little to celebrate here in Scotland’.
Mr Thompson said ‘people will still celebrate’ and there will likely be a spike in house parties as he also said it is a ‘certainty’ that many Scots will travel to England.
Ms Sturgeon has urged people to reduce their contacts with other households and to ‘limit the size of any indoor social gatherings that do take place so that they don’t include people from any more than three households’.
Experts believe as many as 100,000 Scottish and Welsh revellers could journey across the border to celebrate as they try to avoid restrictions.
One of Mr Johnson’s ministers suggested Scots are welcome to come to England on December 31.
Chloe Smith, the Work and Pensions Minister, said that ‘we are one country and people are more than free to move around inside our country under the general law’.
Across England’s regions the number of infections is still highest in London. But as Omicron spreads across the country cases are now rising in all other regions
Covid cases are highest among 18 to 35-year-olds (orange line), they said, but are rising in all age groups. There is also an uptick among 55 to 75-year-olds (red line) and over-75s (purple line) who are more at risk from the virus
Boris Johnson has urged people in England to enjoy celebrations tomorrow night in a ‘cautious and sensible way’.
The Prime Minister said people should ‘take a test’ before heading to festivities but lateral flow tests and PCR test appointments are still unavailable this morning as the testing chaos enters its fourth day.
A Number 10 source has stressed that people do not have to take a test before they go out but should take one ‘where possible’.
While none are available from Government sites, private providers have been found to be selling boxes of 25 LFTs for more than £200.
A Government scientific adviser warned this morning it is ‘very worrying indeed’ that people in England could mix on New Year’s Eve without taking a Covid test.
Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said indoor parties are ‘absolutely perfect’ for spreading the Omicron coronavirus variant.
Meanwhile, a Government official told The Telegraph that people could soon struggle to get a PCR test at a walk-through or drive-through site within two days of asking for one as demand rises.
A source told the newspaper: ‘PCR test demand is still increasing. It’s at the point now where demand and capacity are about level. But we will soon reach the point where people are struggling to get PCR tests anywhere near them within 48 hours. And what do we do then?’
The Government is under growing pressure to resolve the testing shortage but ministers have blamed global supply issues.
Ministers are thought to be watching admissions in Omicron hotspot London closely, with a breach of 400 expected to trigger further restrictions nationwide. The latest data shows 374 people were admitted to the capital on Boxing Day, up 73 per cent on the week before