Omicron: Hundreds make way to Edinburgh Christmas Market despite Nicola Sturgeon's warning

Scots have been urged by Nicola Sturgeon to stay at home in the run up to Christmas but Edinburgh’s famous market was bustling with visitors nonetheless as families celebrated just one week before the big day.

By Liam Smillie
Friday, 17th December 2021, 6:56 pm
Edinburgh Christmas Market was bustling on Friday afternoon
Edinburgh Christmas Market was bustling on Friday afternoon

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Just hours before, on Friday, the First Minister had addressed the nation and warned of the growing number of Omicron cases in the country and the impact it could have on the NHS.

The rate at which Omicron case numbers have been rising may be worrying to some, particularly those involved in a poll by Savanta Comres, which found one-in-two UK adults supported a two-week national lockdown this month.

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Charlotte said a lot of people were worried about the new variant

But scenes at the capital’s most popular Christmas event suggested not everyone shared the same concerns.

As some market-goers piled onto the big wheel, carousel and fairground rides, others perused stalls at their leisure and enjoyed food and drinks from the various stalls.

And throughout the afternoon more made their way out of Waverley station, cases dragging behind them, ready to take part in the celebrations themselves.

One of those heading to the market for some festive fun was veterinary medicine student Charlotte, who is from Devon but studies at the University of Edinburgh, said: “I’m at the Christmas market trying to navigate Christmas under Omicron.

Joe said he felt the Covid situation was similar to last year

“I think a lot of people are a bit worried at the moment, a lot of people are changing their plans last minute.

“People are trying to decide whether they should change plans now, or leave it to the last minute - it’s been a bit difficult for some students getting home.”

Joe, a law student at the University of Edinburgh, said that, following the earlier briefing, members of the public were feeling the same anxiety and uncertainty that came last year, when last minute changes saw many spend Christmas alone.

“I feel everything’s very similar to last year,” he said.

While Nicola Sturgeon urged Scots to stay at home, many flocked to Edinburgh's Christmas market

“Everyone’s a bit anxious about choosing between social things like Christmas markets and seeing their friends, but still not trying to ruin Christmas with their families.

“So everyone’s on the fence a bit about how to handle it.”

But others like Laura Smillie, a complaint handler at the Royal Bank of Scotland, said she felt people should be able to enjoy a normal Christmas.

“My opinion on it is that we’ve all had our jags, we’ve all had our boosters and it’s time to get on with it,” she said.

Edinburgh Christmas Market was bustling on Friday

“I think there’s a bit of an overreaction to this Omicron, I think it’s about time we all got on with it and got out and enjoyed ourselves.”

The Christmas market isn’t the only famous event which attracts people from all over the country to Edinburgh at this time of year.

The city’s Hogmanay celebrations are still set to go ahead as planned, but visitors have been told they must take a lateral flow test before they go.

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Laura Smillie said she felt people should be able to enjoy a normal Christmas.