'Go as if there's a pandemic': Scots left confused over contradictory Xmas party advice

9 December 2021, 19:48

Scottish people have been given contradictory advice about Christmas parties
Scottish people have been given contradictory advice about Christmas parties. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Scotland has issued contradictory advice on Christmas parties, with people being told to defer them just an hour after being told they could attend them "as if there's a pandemic".

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Speaking to broadcasters at around 4pm on Thursday, Scotland's National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said people should go to parties "as if there's a pandemic".

"Do it carefully," he said, when asked if people should still be going to festive parties.

"Have some thought for it, don't just do it as if there were no pandemic, so do it as if there's a pandemic.

Read more: No10 Xmas party probe looking at multiple dates, not just Dec 18th, Health Sec tells LBC

Read more: Up to seven Government Christmas parties held while Brits isolated, it is claimed

"So that means lateral flow tests for everybody that day, and I would hope that pretty much everybody there is vaccinated and boosted, and be cautious when you're there."

But just an hour later, Public Health Scotland told people they should not be going to Christmas parties at all.

Dr Nick Phin, director of public health science and medical director at Public Health Scotland, urged people to put off their parties, saying: "To help minimise the further spread of Covid-19, and Omicron in particular, I would strongly urge people to defer their Christmas parties to another time."

He added: "There is much that we still need to learn about Omicron, but early evidence suggests that this new Covid variant is much more transmissible.

"The impact of this transmissibility has been seen in recent weeks, with a number of Omicron outbreaks linked to parties.

Read more: Three women fined for parties on same day as alleged Downing St Xmas gathering

Read more: Pressure mounts on Met chief over decision not to investigate No10 party claims

"We still need to learn more about the severity of disease caused by Omicron and the effectiveness of vaccines, but there are important things that we can do to help protect ourselves and our families now.

"I appreciate that everyone is keen to celebrate this festive season, particularly after the pressures of the last 20 months, but by postponing some plans we can all do our bit to protect ourselves and our loved ones."

The Scottish Government has since attempted to offer come clarity on the situation, saying people should follow the advice from Public Health Scotland - meaning they should defer their Christmas parties.

"Public Health advice is rapidly developing given the fast pace of the spread of this new variant," said a spokesperson for the Scottish Government.

"We would encourage everyone to follow the advice from Public Health Scotland."

Read more: Fuming Tory MPs threaten revolt over Covid rules that order WFH but allow Xmas parties

Read more: Ex-Met standards boss enrages LBC listeners saying 'no public interest' in No10 Xmas party

The confusion comes amid controversy over an alleged Christmas party at Downing Street last year, when London was in Tier 3 and such parties were banned.

The party, which has prompted a huge row and led to the resignation of former spokesperson Allegra Stratton, is one of three being investigated by the Cabinet Secretary.

Simon Case will also investigate a party held in Downing Street on November 27, and one held at the Department for Education on December 10.

Labour called for the prime minister to resign if he is found to have misled MPs about the parties.

Currently Christmas parties are still allowed in England, with the Prime Minister saying people should go but remain careful.

"We think that it is okay currently, on what we can see, to keep going with Christmas parties," he said, when asked at a press conference on Wednesday when he announced he was moving England to Plan B of coronavirus measures.

"But obviously everybody should exercise due caution."