Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon says she has not changed her story as Jason Leitch says football fans 'chose to ignore' government guidance

Nicola Sturgeon has said she wishes fewer football fans had travelled to watch the Scotland v England match in London – but insisted she was “not changing her story” on what the Scottish Government advised fans to do in the lead up match.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 2:18 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2021, 3:20 pm

Speaking at Friday’s coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said they were clear on their advice, and that people should look back to see what was said if in any doubt over what football fans were told.

She said: “In a situation like this, you try to give people layers of advice – don’t go unless you’ve got a ticket, if you are going to ignore that and go, try to do it safely.

What was said before the match?

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National Clinical Director Jason Leitch agreed and said that the government was clear and told people not to travel.

He said: “If you want to go back to the actual quote, then by all means, but it was don't travel unless you have a ticket or somewhere safe to watch the game.

"That was what we said, and that was the right advice.”

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Nicola Sturgeon says she has not changed her story as Jason Leitch says football fans 'chose to ignore' government guidance. (Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Pool'AFP/Getty)

In the lead up to the game, Scotland’s Culture Minister, Jenny Gilruth, said she knew Euro 2020 would be one of the highlights of summer but that everyone still had an important part to play in controlling the virus.

She said: “I urge all football fans to plan in advance how you are going to enjoy the tournament and only travel to London for June 18 if you have a ticket or a safe place to watch the match from.”

Are football fans to blame for the latest coronavirus spike?

Both Ms Sturgeon and Prof Leitch said that while fans travelling to watch football was in part responsible for the surge in cases, it is not the only thing to blame for the spike.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I think there's a danger if everybody assumes that what we're seeing right now is just related to football, that if you're not watching the football or haven't been watching the football you'll think that these messages don't apply to you.

"Conversely it will sound to people who've watched the football that we're trying to blame them for that.

"Neither of these things is true.”

She went on to say the data from Public Health Scotland shows that around 2,000 cases were football related in “one form or another” but that there were more than 30,000 cases over during the same period which shows that community transmission is also impacting figures.

Ms Sturgeon continued: “Has football had an impact? We think yes.

"It is entirely the explanation for what we’re dealing with now? Absolutely not.”

Are cases still rising following the football?

Prof Leitch said: “The Euro 2020 tag has begun to tail off because we do think it was principally around that one big match and the other big Scottish match, that has begun to tail off.

"I’m not sure we could have said much more to people, we were very, very clear in constant TV and radio interviews – don’t travel unless you have a ticket, and people chose to ignore that and now we can see the consequences of that.

"But let’s also keep that in perspective because the First Minister is correct, football is not the only problem here.”

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