Sturgeon says 'stay at home as much as possible' and imposes strict limits on event crowds

21 December 2021, 14:42 | Updated: 21 December 2021, 16:15

  • Nicola Sturgeon has asked people to limit their socialising after Christmas
  • People should stay at home as much as they can, the First Minister said
  • Events will be reduced to a maximum of 500 people outdoors and 200 people indoors if seated
  • Hospitality businesses will be told to ensure people are keeping a metre apart, even when they are together
  • Table service will be used in places selling alcohol that is consumed within the venue
  • The advice and limits will take place over New Year
Nicola Sturgeon has slashed the size of events and asked people to limit socialising after Christmas
Nicola Sturgeon has slashed the size of events and asked people to limit socialising after Christmas. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Nicola Sturgeon has told people in Scotland to stay at home as much as is feasible after Christmas – including over New Year – and will drastically slash the limit to capacity for events.

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The Scottish First Minister said she was advising people to physically distance themselves from others not in their group when out and about and limit contact with others as much as they can.

Hospitality venues also face three weeks of new measures.

Outdoors events including football matches and other sports will be cut to a maximum of 500 people and indoor events reduced to 200 with seating and 100 with standing in plans due to kick in from Boxing Day.

That will impact Hogmanay celebrations, including the large-scale Edinburgh street party, and major sports events like the Old Firm derby between Rangers and Celtic on January 2.

Read more: Covid support: What has Sunak announced and which companies can get help?

Ms Sturgeon stressed she was not asking people to change their Christmas plans.

"Difficult though it is, please follow this advice over New Year - minimise Hogmanay socialising as much as you can," she said.

"If we all follow the advice to minimise the contact we have outside our own households, we will help limit the spread of infections."

Hospitality businesses will see the return of table service for anywhere serving alcohol that is consumed on site.

They will also be asked to ensure customers keep one metre apart, including between groups of people who arrived together.

"From 27 December, again for a three-week period - we intend to introduce some further protections in hospitality settings and other indoor public places to reduce transmission risk in what are, through no fault of those who run such venues, higher-risk environments," Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

"I know how unwelcome this will be for everyone - but we believe these precautionary steps will help us navigate a difficult period more safely.

"I am also acutely aware that these decisions - and the advice we are giving the public - have significant financial implications for many businesses."

Businesses will be able to use a pot of support money worth £375m after recent Treasury funding allowed an extra £175m in spending, Ms Sturgeon said.

Reacting, Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the "confirmation that yet more restrictions will come into place from Boxing Day will be another hammer blow for employers and Scotland's economy".

She added: "Businesses across Scotland, who have been doing everything they can to keep their employees and customers safe, will be bitterly disappointed by these further restrictions."