Police chiefs urge Hibs and St Johnstone fans to stick to Covid-19 rules when teams meet in Scottish Cup final
Police chiefs have urged Hibs and St Johnstone fans to avoid gathering in large groups to stop the spread of Covid-19 when the teams meet in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final - and warned officers will not hesitate to use enforcement powers as a last resort.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Spiers said it is “vitally important” that both sets of supporters stick to the regulations in place. He said police are already working with both clubs and other partners, including the Scottish government, to ensure the match goes ahead safely and that supporters follow restrictions for their own and the public’s safety.
The message comes after Rangers fans gathered in Glasgow city centre at the weekend and a minority participated in violence and disorder which left a number of people injured, including police officers.
The Scottish government says their message is clear in that no-one should congregate anywhere in large numbers, and that given the fragility of the current state of the pandemic, they would “strongly advise against” meeting in groups greater than advised in current guidance.
The guidance for level two areas, in which most of Scotland is in, states no more than eight people - aged 12 and over - from eight different households should meet up outdoors and that mass gatherings are banned. Eased indoor restrictions this week also means alcohol can be served in pubs up to 10.30pm. People from up to six people from three different households can now meet in a pub or a home.
In recent days, Edinburgh residents have raised Covid transmission concerns to Craigentinny and Duddingston Tory councillor John McLellan in the event of mass gatherings in the Easter Road area if Hibs win the cup.
Mr McLellan said: “What’s required really is absolute clarity for this weekend for both clubs involved in the cup final about what is and what is not allowed and what facilities and measures will be in place to make sure that safety is managed and that any public concerns are assuaged in advance.”
Mr McLellan also claims there has not been consistent messaging from the Scottish government on gatherings of late. He highlighted, for instance, that people appeared to be allowed to gather in large numbers in Glasgow’s Kenmure Street to protest against the detention of two Indian nationals in a Home Office immigration van.
He said it would not be unreasonable for Hibs fans to think celebrating in large numbers is okay if their team does win the cup, and he says that this therefore needs to be facilitated in a “controlled manner.”
Mr McLellan added: “Health issues remain a concern for people so it’s in everybody’s interests that the council, police, Scottish government, football clubs and SFA get together and give a clear message about what they will be doing.”
Health and safety is priority
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: "The Scottish Cup Final on Saturday is an important day for everyone involved with St Johnstone and Hibernian football clubs and we will have an appropriate policing plan in place to maintain public safety.
"It is vitally important that both sets of fans avoid gathering in large groups and stick to the regulations in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"Police Scotland is already working with both teams and our partners, including the Scottish Government, to ensure the match goes ahead safely and supporters follow the restrictions for their own safety and that of the wider public and our officers.
“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and encourage compliance, but officers will not hesitate to use enforcement powers as a last resort."
Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey, said: “We’re continuing to work closely with Hibernian FC, Police Scotland and other key partners ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final.
“Our residents’ health and safety remains the priority of all partners and our message to fans is to enjoy the cup final, and any celebrations, responsibly and in line with public health guidance. Please follow council, police and the club’s ongoing advice to help you do just that.”
A Scottish government spokesperson said: “The restrictions are the same for everyone and our message is clear: no-one should congregate anywhere in large numbers. When large numbers of people gather in close proximity, there is an increased risk of person to person transmission. There is evidence of this happening in this type of situation to date.
“Given the fragility of the current state of the pandemic, we would strongly advise against meeting in groups greater than advised in current guidance.
“We are working with both clubs and Police Scotland ahead of this weekend’s match.”