Edinburgh plans Hogmanay despite Covid threat

Taking decisions about Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations seems risky given the danger of a second wave of coronavirus, writes Helen Martin.

Monday, 20th July 2020, 12:30 pm
Firework over Edinburgh during previous Hogmanay celebrations

UK SCIENTISTS and experts have advised there’s a strong risk of a second coronavirus wave this winter, creating up to 120,000 deaths.

It is the ‘flu season. A virus can survive longer in cooler conditions and spread rapidly when people spend some time indoors with heating. The peak is predicted to be January or February.

I was, therefore, stunned to hear that this week the city council is looking at plans and deciding on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.

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Instead of concentration in the centre, there would be markets across the city along with performance and events... and tourists, of course.

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14 pictures that show Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations through the years

Just as the Fringe and Festival was written off and the city locked down until this month, with social distancing and face coverings still mandated, despite no deaths for a week, these plans seem bizarre.

Hogmanay could be another serious lockdown period, with flights, hospitality etc stopped and shut. There is certainly nothing wrong with discussing the potential of Hogmanay, on the chance that the experts are wrong, and that Scotland and all other parts of the world issuing tourists are free from Covid-19. Deputy leader Councillor Cammy Day said Edinburgh should remain as “an international city” for Christmas and New Year.

But taking decisions now, and possibly therefore spending money, issuing contracts, making commitments, and planning events and crowds all around the city let alone in the centre, seems a risky procedure if it turns out to be an even worse period of infections and deaths. If the scientists really were wrong, and Edinburgh hadn’t planned, it would be a disaster. If they’re right and Edinburgh has planned, that would be a disaster. Might as well flip a coin.

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