COVID-19: Sturgeon under pressure to ease restrictions in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon faces renewed calls to lift COVID restrictions when she announces Scotland’s next steps in combating the virus.

Sporting organisations have echoed the hospitality industry in demanding that Scotland’s first minister eases measures when she makes a statement to the Holyrood parliament today.

From yesterday football supporters are allowed, once again, to attend matches in unlimited numbers but indoor events still have a seated limit of 200.

Dundee Stars ice hockey team is among those who have played recent matches in front of crowds a tenth of their normal size. Last Thursday, they played against Manchester Storm in a fixture that would normally have attracted around 2,000 spectators to Dundee Ice Arena. However, only 200 were allowed inside.

Eighty percent of the team’s income comes from ticket sales and, to date, they have lost more than £100,000.

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Co-owner Steve Ward told Sky News that he believes the decision to limit crowds doesn’t sit easily with restrictions being lifted for football, rugby and outdoor sports.

“We understand everybody’s got to play their part, but they’ve maybe acted a bit hastily.

“To get to a football match, most guys go to the pub first, that’s still a huge thing. This is a family sport, with family units paying to come. There aren’t bus loads and hordes of people all in the same area getting to the game. Everybody, more or less, comes in their family group and attends the match.

“You get 50,000 people inside Hampden, how many people are on public transport, using trains & buses? That’s something I’m not so sure they have considered.”

Ahead of today’s announcement, Nicola Sturgeon has said she hopes to ease restrictions on indoor venues and events from 24th January.

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Bars and restaurants are only able to offer table service where alcohol is being served and they must ensure that different groups are socially distanced. The hospitality industry says COVID restrictions have resulted in a collective loss to the trade of £1 billion.

UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Leon Thompson said: “Hospitality needs to know that it can begin trading fully, including nightclubs, so we’re calling on the Scottish Government to lift restrictions no later than 24th January.

“This will send a positive message that Scotland is open for business and help our businesses as they set out again on what we all hope will be the road towards recovery.”

The Scottish Conservatives have called for the removal of all COVID restrictions from February, with the exception of face masks in public places.

(c) Sky News 2022: COVID-19: Sturgeon under pressure to ease restrictions in Scotland

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