Covid in Scotland: Scots prepare for Hogmanay at home

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Scotland has been warned to bring in the new year at home, as events and socialising are banned this Hogmanay.

The first minister, police chiefs and local council leaders have urged the public to welcome 2021 within their own household.

Nicola Sturgeon told Scotland there should be "no gatherings, no house parties and no first footing".

Police Scotland said people should "do the right thing" and reminded them that parties were not allowed.

New Year's Eve looks very different this year, with a further 2,622 Covid cases recorded in the past 24 hours - the highest daily figure to be posted since mass testing in Scotland began.

image captionNicola Sturgeon has appealed to the public to keep Hogmanay within the household

There is no relaxing of the rules as there was for Christmas Day and all of mainland Scotland is in level four restrictions.

The "home of Hogmanay" - Edinburgh - has only online events planned.

The Scottish government's messaging has asked the public to protect each other and the NHS by staying at home to suppress the virus.

The first minister asked the nation to "stick with it and keep looking after each other" to ensure a safe start to 2021.

During a statement to parliament she said everyone must remain vigilant during the difficult winter weeks ahead.

'Difficult few weeks'

She said: "As this awful year draws to a close, let me again thank everyone across Scotland for your sacrifice and patience, and for looking out for each other.

"We have every reason to believe that the spring of 2021 will bring better times but we must first get through these difficult few weeks of winter.

"It is vital we keep doing everything we can to suppress this virus to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and to protect the NHS."

She said people should mark the new year responsibly and in line with current restrictions.

"To be clear, that means no gatherings, no house parties, and no first footing", she said. "Instead, we should bring in 2021 in our own homes with just our own household.

"We know our prospects for the rest of the year will be better if we get off to a safe start so let's stick with it, and keep looking after each other.

"And let me wish everyone when it comes a better, brighter and happier new year."

'Enforcement powers'

Police Scotland said its approach, as it has been throughout the pandemic, would be to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance.

But the force said it would not hesitate to continue to use enforcement powers as a last resort.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: "We're asking everyone to continue to do the right thing to stop the spread of this virus and protect public health as it is clear that there is an ongoing risk.

"Remember that parties and indoor gatherings of different households are not permitted and we will continue to use our enforcement powers to disperse large groups of people where necessary.

"Please follow the Scottish government's advice, which is to celebrate Hogmanay and the New Year with your own household only, in your own home."

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image captionThere will be no street party this year after Edinburgh moved its events online

The streets of Edinburgh will be empty for the first time in recent memory following the cancellation of the world famous street party, and the celebration has moved entirely online.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: "The best and safest place to celebrate Hogmanay this year is at home.

"Cases have increased significantly so please don't go round to friends' houses and keep adhering to the guidance - more gatherings at Hogmanay will cause increased risk to people across the capital and, in particular, our NHS staff and services.

"Following the rules now is the quickest way to get restrictions lifted and hopefully we can look back at this Hogmanay as one of our final sacrifices in the battle against the virus.

"As 2020 comes to a close and with the roll out of vaccines under way, we can look more positively towards 2021. But for now, and this Hogmanay, please keep following the guidance, please stay at home and keep yourself and others safe."