Hopes fan zone will go ahead ‘as third Covid wave begins’

National clinical director Jason Leitch told Scotland Tonight that Scotland is 'at the start of a third wave'.

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Health chief Jason Leitch is “hopeful” Glasgow’s fan zone for the European Championships will go ahead as Scotland battles a third wave of Covid-19.

The national clinical director said he has concerns that any relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions could drive up cases, but he hopes Scots will stick to the social distancing rules if they’ve managed to snap up a ticket.

The fan zone at Glasgow Green will open on June 11 and run for the 31 days of the tournament, welcoming up to 6000 football supporters per day.

Organisers have promised a “festival atmosphere” with food, drinks and activities as well as screenings of all games.

Fans will be able to watch the Scotland men’s team play in their first major tournament since the World Cup in France in 1998.

Speaking on Scotland Tonight on Tuesday, Leitch said: “I have concerns that any relaxation could drive up cases.

“The fan zone is not quite as it’s advertised. It’s 3000 people at a time during a game for a very limited period.

“It’s family picnics, it’s also a beer garden. I’m not suggesting it’s all just toddlers, there will be football fans there and some of them will be drinking.”

Leitch said he hopes those drinking alcohol will adhere to the social distancing rules.

Speaking on the safety of the event, he added: “We’ve got lots of stewarding, we had another meeting about it today.

“We’re looking over those plans to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can.

“To be honest, Glasgow will celebrate the Euros. Whether we control it or not, Glasgow will celebrate the Euros, they’re coming.

“So actually, you could argue that 3000 people with families, with a sports court for kids to learn how to play five-a-side etc, is more controlled than some of the other bits.”

Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier in the day that Glasgow would be moving down from level three restrictions to level two from Saturday.

The First Minister stated that public safety continued to be the Scottish Government’s “overriding priority” ahead of plans for the tournament and fan zone.

When question whether the fan zone will go ahead if cases rise in the city, Leitch said that was a decision for ministers.

He added: “We will give the ministers the best advice we can.

“We’re hopeful that that fan zone will happen.

“The fan zone, we’re going to have a look, we’re just going to check we’ve done everything we possibly can. I’m hopeful that it can still happen.”

Leitch stated that Scotland is at the start of a third wave of the deadly virus.

He said: “We are at the start of a third wave.

“This isn’t rocket science – if you open you get more cases.

“The virus hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s got more nasty over time, not less. But we’re racing it with the vaccine and our behaviours.

“We shouldn’t be panicked, we shouldn’t be overly concerned, but we should be cautious.

“And that’s what I think you see the Scottish Government doing and many other governments in the world.”

Leitch said “we can’t put a date” on how long Scots have to be on their guard against Covid.

He said: “I know it’s closer than it was. I know the world is trying to get a grip of it.

“We’ve moved quite far. Now you can go into each other’s houses from the weekend across the whole country. That’s a big step, that’s more than September.

“And hospitality will be open in the evenings, indoors etc.”

He said registering zero deaths for a long period won’t be the only factor.

He added: “I think it’s a basket of measures.

“I think it starts with cases, but it’s strictly the cases leading into the hospitalisations and the deaths.”