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Covid in Scotland: Fans urged to watch Old Firm match at home

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Football fans have been urged to abide by local lockdown restrictions and watch the Old Firm match at home.

The managers of Celtic and Rangers have joined First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in appealing to their supporters to help curb the spread of the virus.

Fans who flout rules on households mixing are "putting others at risk", one public health chief warned.

And those hoping to watch the game in Blackpool pubs were warned there would be a high police presence in the town.

Celtic are due to play Rangers at Celtic Park at 12:30.

The Scottish Premiership clash will take place in an empty stadium due to coronavirus restrictions which ban crowds from watching live sport.

It will be televised but pubs in the central belt are currently closed due to the pandemic.

During the Scottish government daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, Ms Sturgeon told Old Firm fans:

  • They should not watch the game in other people's homes
  • They should not travel to other parts of Scotland or to England to watch the game in pubs
  • They should not gather outside the stadium

She added: "Nobody likes the fact that these restrictions have to be in place but they are vital to protecting all of us and keeping us safe.

"So please comply with restrictions - by doing that you will be playing your part in helping us get the virus under control and you'll be helping hasten the day when we can all watch and enjoy the things that we love doing, whether that's football or the many things that we find ourselves not able to do normally."

media captionCovid in Scotland: Old Firm fans urged to stay home

During the same briefing, she announced there had been nine more deaths of coronavirus patients recorded in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities under this measure to 2,594.

A total of 1,196 people tested positive for coronavirus over the same time period, while the number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus is increasing.

  • What are the new lockdown rules in Scotland?
  • Covid-19 in Scotland: Where are the latest cases?

Temporary restrictions to bring the outbreak back under control in the central belt have led to the closure of most licensed premises in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Lothian, Forth Valley and Ayrshire and Arran NHS boards.

Those living in these areas have been warned not to travel to other parts of Scotland or to areas in England where such restrictions are not in force.

Earlier this week the first minister said football fans should avoid going to Blackpool, after about 180 people with coronavirus told contact tracers that they had recently been to holiday resort.

Police in Lancashire have echoed her plea.

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Speaking ahead of the county entering the "very high" Tier 3 level of restrictions on Saturday, Supt Damian Kitchen said football fans should stay at home.

He added: "We will have a very visible policing presence throughout the weekend and we'll be working with our partners and council wardens to ensure that licensed premises are sticking to the rules.

"The rules are there to keep everyone, both residents and visitors, safe and we will enforce them where we need to."

A similar appeal has been made by police in Cumbria amid fears some fans would cross the border to watch the game in pubs in Carlisle.

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image captionSteven Gerrard and Neil Lennon have asked fans to stay at home

Meanwhile both teams' managers have encouraged fans to watch the match from home.

Celtic's Neil Lennon said: "Please enjoy the game at home. Stay with your family and don't put yourself or anyone else in jeopardy with every that's going on.

"Hopefully we can put in a performance that you can be proud of and enjoy the game, but please, don't travel."

Steven Gerrard said he could understand the frustration of those who wanted to see their team play, but said fans' safety was priority.

He urged them to stay at home to keep themselves and their families safe.

'More people will die'

Public health officials from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have also asked fans to abide by the restrictions.

Dr Linda De Caestecker said fans who broke the guidelines were "putting others at risk".

She said: "The current restrictions are in place to minimise the spread of the virus.

"If you do not follow them, this will increase the rate of transmission of Covid-19 in the community and in turn, the number of people who being hospitalised by the virus.

"Sadly, this will also mean more people will die."

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  • Lockdown rules: What Covid tier is your area in and what are the restrictions?

  • Covid in Scotland: Old Firm fans urged to stay home