FM: Avoid temptation to bend the rules this weekend

Nicola Sturgeon urged Scots not to visit other people's homes or travel south to watch Saturday's Old Firm clash.

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The First Minister has called on Scots to avoid the temptation to bend coronavirus rules this weekend.

Nicola Sturgeon’s remarks referenced this weekend’s first Old Firm derby of the season – and the first to be held without fans in the grounds.

She urged the public to abide by restrictions which prohibit visiting other people’s homes and stressed people living in central belt hotspot areas where pubs are closed should not travel elsewhere to watch the match.

It comes as nine more people with Covid-19 have died in Scotland, while the country recorded 1196 new infections overnight.

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Of those new cases – which amount to 16.9% of newly-tested individuals – 416 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 309 are in Lanarkshire, 161 are in Lothian and there are 104 new cases in Ayrshire and Arran.

These health board areas along with Forth Valley are the five subject to a ban on all hospitality except cafes in a bid to drive down the spike in infections in the central belt.

In the rest of the country, pubs and restaurants must not serve alcohol inside and have to close their indoor venues by 6pm.

Giving the daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, the First Minister said the numbers in hospital with Covid have risen by 27 overnight, up to a total of 629.

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Of those, 58 are being treated in intensive care, an increase of six in 24 hours.

On Wednesday, Sturgeon pleaded with Celtic and Rangers fans not to travel to England to watch Saturday’s Old Firm clash in places where hospitality rules are more relaxed.

She specifically asked people not to travel to Blackpool as hundreds of Scottish cases of coronavirus have been linked to the popular seaside town.

In a final warning on Friday, the First Minister urged football fans not to watch the Glasgow derby in other people’s homes, not to gather at the stadium and to avoid travel outside of Scotland to watch it in a pub or bar.

Sturgeon conceded that it can be more difficult to follow coronavirus guidelines at the weekend “when the temptation to bend the rules a bit will be at its strongest”.

She said that temptation “might be even greater” for Old Firm fans looking forward to the first clash between the sides since the pandemic began.

The FM reiterated the rules that no one should visit or host people from other households in their homes except for essential purposes such as childcare or looking after a vulnerable person.

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“This statement is possibly a controversial one in Scotland, I readily acknowledge that, but I’m afraid that watching football, no matter how essential it may feel to some, does not fall into that essential category,” she told the briefing.

Sturgeon added: “Nobody likes the fact that these restrictions have to be in place, but they are vital to protecting all of us and keeping us safe.

“So please comply with restrictions, by doing that you will be playing your part in helping us get the virus under control and you’ll be helping hasten the day when we can all watch and enjoy the things that we love doing whether that’s football or the many things that we find ourselves not able to do normally.”

She also announced two new walk-in testing centres will open on Friday and Saturday in Scotland.

The new facilities, in Dundee and Edinburgh, will add to seven other such sites across the country designed to boost testing capacity, which have broadly been targeted at student populations.

However, the First Minister said the facilities – one opening today in Dundee city centre and another in the Sighthill area of Edinburgh tomorrow -would also be available to non-students.