Muted Hogmanay as Scots urged to stay at home and parties cancelled

New Year celebrations low-key across the country amid surging spread of Omicron variant.

Hogmanay celebrations are set to be muted across Scotland heading into 2022, with traditional street parties cancelled and people told to stay at home amid the surging spread of coronavirus.

Large scale events, including Edinburgh’s Party at the Bells on Princes Street and Stonehaven’s fireballs, are prohibited as part of new Covid-19 measures announced by Nicola Sturgeon last week.

New curbs on hospitality venues have also come into force, while people are being urged to “stay at home as much as possible” until at least the first week of January.

Any meet-ups must be limited to a maximum of three households.

Nightclubs are closed and pubs must have one-metre social distancing measures in place and are required to offer table service only indoors.

Crowds at outdoor public events were capped at 500 since Boxing Day, for at least three weeks, and numbers at indoor public events limited to 100 standing or 200 seated.

The First Minister said the restrictions were aimed at cutting down transmission of the Omicron coronavirus variant and because “large events put an additional burden on emergency services”.

She said: “Over Hogmanay and New Year’s Day, and for at least the first week in January, we are advising everyone to stay at home more than normal, to reduce contacts with people outside our own 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.”

“This will, of course, make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free over this three-week period.

“And it will also mean that large-scale Hogmanay celebrations, including that planned here in our capital city, will not proceed.

“I know how disappointing this will be for those looking forward to these events, and for the organisers of them.”

Meanwhile, Scotland’s deputy first minister John Swinney also told new year revellers planning to travel to England amid more relaxed Covid restrictions that this would be the “wrong course of action”.

Swinney said while there is nothing to stop partygoers from heading south of the border, where nightclubs are still open, for their Hogmanay celebrations, this would go against the “spirit” of the regulations put in place by the Scottish Government.

The latest coronavirus figures in Scotland showed daily coronavirus cases hit a record high for the second consecutive day, with 16,857 newly-infected people.

Figures published by the Scottish Government on Thursday show 71,612 new tests for Covid-19 reported results and 27.1% were positive.

Sturgeon said the record reflects the Omicron variant of the virus being “very, very infectious” and added the “likelihood of getting it just now if you mix with others is high”.

Thursday’s daily case figure breaks the previous high of 15,849 announced on Wednesday.

Last Hogmanay, all of mainland Scotland was in the highest tier of Covid-19 restrictions, banning indoor visiting as well as more than six people from two households meeting outdoors.

Despite the lockdown, police were called to disperse large crowds at Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill.

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