Scottish Government issues last ditch plea to Scots heading to England to celebrate NYE to ‘stay away’ from large-scale parties because Omicron ‘poses a serious threat’ to the nation
The Scottish Government today issued a last ditch plea to Scots to avoid large-scale New Year’s Eve parties as English pubs brace for thousands of revellers to cross the border to celebrate this evening.
Nicola Sturgeon has banned large Hogmanay celebrations and advised people to limit socialising as much as possible.
But many Scots are expected to head to England to escape the coronavirus curbs and to see in the New Year.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney today called on all Scots to stick to the Scottish Government’s guidance.
He said people are being urged to restrict socialising because Omicron is ‘spreading very, very widely within our society’ and it ‘poses a serious threat to us’.
Groups of excited Scots were pictured yesterday arriving in Newcastle, Blackpool and London to celebrate New Year’s Eve and go to football matches with more expected to follow suit today.
Nicola Sturgeon has banned large Hogmanay celebrations and advised people to limit socialising as much as possible
Aidyn Stott was getting off the train in Newcastle yesterday after travelling from Fife with his partner. He plans on spending the 31st in Newcastle after becoming fed up of the stringent Scottish rules
Sarah Hall, 23, (middle) had travelled from Dunbar and is combining a NYE night out with her friend’s birthday
Taylor Houston, 18, (centre) had come down from Dundee with a small group of pals before meeting some more later in the day. He said: ‘I think it’s wrong that the restrictions are different in Scotland, but that’s Nicola Sturgeon for you’
People arriving at Kings Cross on a train from Scotland yesterday. There were several other stops on the way which passengers may have boarded at
Ms Sturgeon announced the ban on large-scale Hogmanay events last week and she decided to stick with it earlier this week.
The First Minister said it is ‘prudent’ and ‘essential’ to take action to reduce transmission of the disease in order to ‘avoid the sheer volume of cases overwhelming us’.
She has urged people to reduce their contacts with other 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’.
There are similar restrictions on socialising in place in Wales and experts have predicted as many as 100,000 Scottish and Welsh revellers could journey across the border to celebrate this evening.
There are no such curbs in England, with people simply being encouraged to take a Covid test before they head to a party.
Mr Swinney was asked this morning why the Scottish Government was not prepared to ‘trust’ people to get tested before celebrating.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We do trust people and we have encouraged them to do exactly that.
‘But we have also asked people to limit their social contact because we can see from all of the data that you have just recounted that Omicron is spreading very, very widely within our society.
‘It poses a serious threat to us, we can see hospitalisation levels are increasing… so at a time when I recognise all of the sentiments that were set out in the clip that you have just played, I recognise all of those traditions, I have been part of them, I value them, I appreciate them, I love them, it is part of who we are.
‘But unfortunately this time around we have to apply some constraints on the level of social interaction we have to protect others.’
Mr Swinney said earlier this week that he would ‘discourage’ Scots from heading to England to celebrate on New Year’s Eve.
He said that ‘people are free to take those decisions but I would discourage them from doing so’.
Groups of Scots were pictured arriving in English towns and cities yesterday.
Newcastle is a particular draw given its proximity to Scotland and famously lively party scene, and yesterday there was a steady flow of Scots arriving at Central Station.
Aidyn Stott was getting off the train after travelling from Fife with his partner. He plans on spending today in Newcastle after becoming fed up of the stringent Scottish rules.
The 21-year-old joiner told MailOnline: ‘It’s not good up in Scotland having to live with the restrictions. We’re here for the New Year and we plan on going out for it to celebrate. We’ll be going to the Tup Tup nightclub.
‘I don’t agree with the restrictions in Scotland. A few miles away south of the border you can go out as normal. It doesn’t make any sense.
‘It’s good to come to Newcastle because you’re used to going out back home all the time and it gets a bit boring.
‘You can come here and go to the football and do a lot more than you can in Scotland.’
One Scottish taxi driver had travelled from Edinburgh with his partner for a trip to Newcastle.
He didn’t want to be named but said: ‘It’s nice just to be able to get away from the Covid situation in Scotland. I’m going down to London as well soon to watch Chelsea play football to just get away from it.
‘Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t drink, she’s teetotal. She targets the working man. The people she targets are everything she hates.
‘On a normal New Year’s Eve I’d be working or I would be at my local pub where every year there are hundreds of people. That’s not going to happen now and it affects everyone. The restrictions are wrong because they’re not working in my opinion.’
Alex Torrence, 32, who works at a hotel in Glasgow, arrived at Euston railway station in London today and said he was going on to Brighton to visit friends.
He said he had spent ‘well over £100’ to make the trip, adding: ‘I booked the trip long before the restrictions came in, but I decided I was going to come anyway. The hotel I’m working at is closed. I booked the time off. Why not?
‘I am completely understanding of the restrictions that Nicola Sturgeon has put in place, but people also have to carry on and live their lives.
‘I spent Christmas Day by myself because my mum is vulnerable and she’s not got the booster yet. I’m not going to be alone on New Year’s Eve as well.’
Mike, who came from Scotland and arrived at King’s Cross, was with three male friends and said they were going to go out in central London over the next few nights. He said: ‘Aye, I don’t care [about the Covid restrictions]. I’m here to have a laugh.’