Scottish crowds limited to 500 fans to contain Covid spread

Jason Soutar
Dens Park, Dundee

Outdoor sporting events in Scotland will be limited to 500 spectators after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed new Covid restrictions.

The implemented rules will be in place from Boxing Day, meaning capacity crowds will be allowed on Wednesday when three Scottish Premiership matches take place.

All matches are set to take place up until the two-week winter break which will begin on January 4.

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Celtic host Rangers in the Old Firm derby on January 2 and Hibernian take on Hearts in the Edinburgh derby a day later.

Sturgeon has implemented these new restrictions to help curb the spread of Covid, with the new Omicron variant rampaging the United Kingdom.

The First Minister said (quotes via Edinburgh News): “None of these [protections] are being proposed lightly but we do consider them necessary to help stem the increase in cases, safeguard health and protect the NHS and our emergency services and the economy while we complete and get the full effect of the booster programme.

“First, from December 26 – inclusive of that date – for a period of up to three weeks, we intend to place limits on the size of live public events that can take place. This does not apply to private life events such as weddings.

“For indoor standing events, the limit will be 100. For indoor seated events, it will be 200, and for outdoor events – 500 seated or standing. Physical distancing of one metre will be required at events that go ahead within these limits.

“This will of course make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free over this three-week period – a situation similar to that in Wales from Boxing Day.”

The Scottish Football Supporters’ Association said: “Today’s announcement by the First Minister, although not completely unexpected, will come as a real disappointment to Scottish football fans everywhere and a shock to the finances of many clubs.

“Local derbies and the festive feelgood factor is the highlight of the season to many and football proceeding with just 500 fans is also a major organisational nightmare for our bigger clubs.

“There will also be significant revenue shortfalls. For now we can all see the bigger picture and the urgent need for control, and in a day of few positives we welcome the fact that football has not been stopped completely which was always our deepest concern.

“It is another new normal but the SFSA would like to see urgent discussion for support on the financial impacts to our game and a road map for coming out at the other end.”