Covid Scotland: Dr Sir Gregor Smith urges football fans to exercise caution upon return to stadiums

Attendees at this week’s football matches are being urged to be careful as restrictions on large events are lifted by the Scottish Government.

Monday, 17th January 2022, 1:22 pm

Games were rescheduled by sports authorities after restrictions were introduced in December, limiting large outdoor events to 500 people, after the Omicron variant began to spread rapidly across the UK.

Chief medical officer Dr Sir Gregor Smith urged fans returning to stadiums to exercise care, with the first fixture due to be played on Monday at Celtic Park – a stadium which has a capacity of upwards of 60,000 people.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, he was asked if the latest Covid figures back up the decision to see large scale events return he said: “When we look at the data over the week to seven days, I think what we can now see is fairly encouraging lines of progress overall in the data, particularly in the case rate. It does appear that there is genuine improvement.

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Chief medical officer Dr Sir Gregor Smith urged fans returning to stadiums to exercise care

He added: “We are probably still to see the full effect of the return of children to schools and increased socialising.”

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He suggested that the positivity rate in Scotland had also decreased in recent weeks in Scotland and that there was signs of cases stabilising across the country.

On the return of fans to football he said: “If I was going to a stadium tonight there are a few things I would be doing just to make sure that I was as comfortable as possible. The first of those is how I got to the stadium. The more we share transport in closed spaces, the more likely we are to come across someone who is positive as well.

“The one thing I would definitely be doing before going in taking a lateral flow.”

He added: “If I was in the stadium, I think I’d just be careful.

“Look for the choke points where people congregate, make sure you’re avoiding those crowds, try and make sure that you’re wearing a face covering at all times when you’re in that crowd.”

He was asked if it was also time to reduce the self isolation time in Scotland to allow workers to return to work without isolating, however, he insisted that isolating was still an important part of reducing the number of Covid cases adding: “There is a concept that many have in their mind right now that Omicron is a completely safe infection. I am afraid that is not the case. You only have to look at our hospital figures just now to see that is the case. So at this moment in time we are just a little bit off taking big bold steps like removing isolation periods.”

As well as football matches, Murrayfield will be able to host a full house for the Six Nations rugby following the easing of restrictions.

Scots will still be required to show evidence of vaccination or a recent negative lateral flow test in order to access large events.

Organisers of events with more than 1,000 attendees will be expected to check the Covid status of at least half of those arriving.