COP26 president says Glasgow summit will be safe event despite concerns

Alok Sharma spoke to STV News ahead of the global climate conference on October 31.

By Lewis McKenzie and Colin Mackay

Alok Sharma has pledged that COP26 will be a safe event – despite concerns over a potential rise in Covid cases, and disruption caused by protesters and striking public sector workers.

The COP26 president said there is a “detailed regime” in place to ensure that the climate summit in Glasgow is Covid secure.

It comes just days after Professor Linda Bauld said that mass events are still “risky” despite declining rates of Covid-19.

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“Safety is absolutely paramount,” Sharma told STV News ahead of the start of COP26 on October 31.

“Right from the start of planning for this event, we wanted to ensure that this was a safe event.

“One, of course, from a health perspective in terms of Covid, but of course working very closely with Police Scotland and other agencies round the UK to make sure that this is a safe event for everyone who is attending.

“But, also particularly for the people of Glasgow.

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“So, there is a detailed regime to ensure this is Covid secure… we will have daily testing taking place, there’s going to be social distancing.

“You know, regular cleaning of the venue and the rooms.”

Asked whether people will be required to wear masks, the UK Government minister said: “Well, people will have to wear masks if they are moving around in the venue.

“And of course, we’ve set all of this out to delegates.

“So, we are going to ensure that this is a safe event and of course, that is really important if we’re going to have success, and at the end of the day, that we’re going to come forward with a negotiation.”

Mass protests are set to take place during the summit, with significant disruption expected throughout the city.

Meanwhile, ScotRail workers are set for strike action, as well as bin workers and school support staff.

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But, Sharma indicated that steps are being taken to ensure that delegates will be able to get back and forth from the COP26 venue.

He said: “Protest is something that happens as part of these events and I’m someone who is very supportive of people being able to protest in a lawful way and that’s right and proper.

“Of course, we need to make sure that that is how people approach this.

“And in terms of public sector workers, obviously we are talking to all our delivery partners, including our transport partners in Scotland to make sure that actually we are able to ensure that delegates can get to the venue, and get back to where they’re staying.”

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