What is thought to be the only council fireworks display still going ahead in Scotland has sparked upset after spectators were told to view it from “their own location” to avoid any mass gatherings.
Highland Council’s light show in Inverness is set for November 5 without the usual bonfire and behind the walls of the city’s Northern Meeting Park.
But critics said that it was the wrong decision amid the pandemic and the advice not to gather was “confusing”.
Whereas local authority Bonfire Night celebrations have been cancelled across the country due to concerns around Covid-19, Highland Council has chosen to go ahead with the display at a “secure location” with warnings from the provost of Inverness and the area’s Public Health chief to stay at home.
High Life Highland, which is organising the event on behalf of the council, said the organisation had worked with the city to ensure a safe and Covid-compliant show.
Amy MacLeod, High Life Highlands’ events development manager, said: “…Whilst other colleagues across Scotland have opted to cancel their events, the city has decided that offering a fireworks display will allow people to have some fun and sparkle without the need for a large, mass gathering at Bught Park.”
Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s director of Public Health, said there was a high level of transmission of coronavirus in the area and that minimising spread was still “vitally important”.
But, he said, he would discourage the public from hosting their own bonfires or fireworks displays to reduce the risk of injury and pressure on the NHS and instead enjoy the city’s light show.
Councillor Bill Boyd, the SNP member for Inverness West, said he understood the decision to go ahead as it would be “very disappointing” to cancel another public event, but that it was a “time for caution”.
“Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and say we can’t do it,” he told STV News, “It’s confusing advice to put it on and say we can’t do it.
“I’m not happy about it, but I see why they’ve done it.”
Provost of Inverness, councillor Helen Carmichael said: “We want everyone to enjoy the 2021 City Fireworks display in a safe and secure way. We are asking individuals and families not to travel to the city to gather in one location, but instead enjoy the display with friends and family in their own locations.
“We are looking forward to seeing the skies above the city lighting up in this for the first time since 2019 and hope that everyone will enjoy this year’s fireworks display which is funded by the Inverness Common Good Fund.”
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