Edinburgh Christmas Market: Huge queues and 'an hour's wait', despite Omicron fears
Long queues to get into the Christmas Market on Princes Street Gardens mean visitors could be waiting as long as an hour to get in.
Pictures taken on Sunday afternoon showed the queue looping all the way back to The Mound.
One individual who had been waiting in the queue told the Evening News they chose to give up and go home.
Before the individual left they were told by a steward that it would take 40 minutes to reach the front of the queue. However, they overheard a passer-by, who said the wait could take over an hour.
They also noted that while many were wearing masks, “some were not”.
The market has been very popular this year, however, people online have shared their concerns about the large crowds flocking to Princes Street and commented on the apparent lack of social distancing and mask wearing.
One Edinburgh Evening News reader, Alan Pirouet, shared his opinion, and said: "No way can people be one metre apart with under 500 folk at a time. We visited and it was packed full. Be responsible and close it down for the year”.
Earlier today, a Facebook post published by Edinburgh’s Christmas advised visitors to “keep a safe distance- about the length of a small Christmas tree” and “Wear a face covering when you're in busy areas”.
This request follows new restrictions which were introduced by the Scottish Government on Boxing Day.
The Edinburgh Christmas Market reopened on Boxing Day and will stay open until January 4. However, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay events which are also run by Underbelly have been cancelled due to Covid.
A spokesperson from Underbelly said: “Edinburgh’s Christmas is operating within the updated Scottish Government guidance and advice, including the reduced capacity per site of 500 people. We ask visitors to wear a face covering, unless exempt, and maintain social distancing at all times. We also have additional hand sanitising points across all three sites, enhanced cleaning regimes and Test and Protect in place. We are also encouraging people to do a lateral flow test before visiting.”
"Due to the reduced capacity of 500 people on-site, we are experiencing some queuing whilst people wait to enter. During this time, we ask that all visitors use our 1m markers that are in place to keep a safe distance. We also have directional arrows in East and West Princes Street Gardens to allow for one-way systems.”
Council Leader Adam McVey said: “Our priority continues to be the health and safety of the public, our staff and combatting the spread of this virus in our communities. We have closely followed public health advice and ensured national guidance has been adhered to throughout the pandemic to keep people safe and protect the NHS.
“Following the introduction of new measures from Boxing Day, the City’s Christmas offer has a significantly changed approach to ensure the revised guidance for outdoor public events is met in full and all public health and public safety issues have been addressed. This means residents will notice changes when visiting the market, ice-rink and family rides, including significant reductions in capacity to keep people safe and protect the NHS.”
Depute Leader Cammy Day said: “These proposals have now been through our well-established safety protocols and signed off by the Council’s event planning group which includes Public Safety, Police Scotland and Public Health Scotland. We’ll keep this under constant review and will be monitoring all sites closely to ensure the guidelines are being followed. If you do intend to visit the city centre to visit Edinburgh’s Christmas or other attractions, please continue to follow the guidance and stay safe.”