Scotland set to announce relaxation of crowd Covid limits at sporting events
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce that rules on the sizes of crowds at sporting events will be relaxed as she updates the Scottish Parliament on the country’s Covid restrictions today.
Where she to go ahead with the planned move it could prompt Wales, which has banned crowds completely at elite sporting events, to follow suit.
At the moment outdoor events in Scotland are limited to 500 people, with one-metre social distancing in place, and indoor seated events limited to 200 people.
In Wales, fans are banned from all sporting events and activities, such as running groups, can take place outdoors but are limited to a maximum of 50.
England has no restrictions and Northern Ireland caps crowds at 50% capacity and 5,000 people.
The Welsh Government have faced criticism of their crowd ban, with the WRU saying that they were looking at taking Wales’ home Six Nations matches to England, and conflict with Chester FC whose stadium lies mostly on Wales’ side of the border.
Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said yesterday that the crowd limits seemed to have made little difference to Scotland’s case numbers.
However, he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland that “I think the protections reduce the size of the wave and they potentially also elongate the wave to allow you to get more people vaccinated, allow you to spread the hospitalisations and intensive care cases out over a longer period.”
Last Friday in his weekly Covid review, Mark Drakeford said that he would not reconsider Wales’ restrictions until it was clear that the Omicron wave had peaked – which could be within 10 days to two weeks, he said.
He added: “The principle Welsh Gov will follow will be that as soon as we think it is safe to lower restrictions we will do it. We will do it at the earliest, safest opportunity.
“We can’t expect those numbers to turn the corner in the next 10 days to two weeks. We can expect them to keep rising rapidly. In those circumstances, we won’t add to the risks by allowing larger numbers to gather.
“But as soon as the wave passes and comes down that is when we will lift some of those protections.”
He said that the risks at the events were “left at the events itself”, it was “how people travel to the stadium, how they gather around the stadium” and that there were “further measures that could mitigate those risks”.