Scottish pubs may face crackdown after football fans' celebrations

Pubs could face new restrictions after the scenes of football fans breaching social distancing rules to celebrate Scotland's dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Serbia.

Scotland won a dramatic penalty shoot-out over Serbia
Scotland won a dramatic penalty shoot-out over Serbia

Deputy First Minister John Swinney warned today the current rules rules on hospitality may be "revisited" after dozen of fans in an Aberdeen beer garden embraced each other after Scotland's win in Belgrade.

Mr Swinney said he understood fans wish to celebrate, but warned they risk spreading the deadly virus.

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Asked today if pubs could be forced to close in future - in areas where the tiered system would allow them to remain open - specifically when big matches are being staged, Mr Swinney said: “We obviously keep these issues under very active review.

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"We've tried to put in place proportionate arrangements for the opening of hospitality in different degrees across different levels and different arrangements exist between level two and level three.

"We're trying to be as accommodating of the ability of pubs and hospitality organisations to be open, but they've always got to operate consistent with the social distancing rules in place.

"If we don't see that happening, then obviously we would have to revisit some of these regulations because social distancing is critical in enabling us to interrupt the spread of the virus."

Aberdeen City Council and Police Scotland are investigating if Covid distancing rules were breached at the Draught Project.

Mr Swinney said he understood the "natural appetite" for fans to celebrate in the aftermath of Scotland's dramatic victory.

But he added: "The virus is a very real threat to all of our lives and communities and I've had to report today some terrible statistics about the number of deaths which have taken place from coronavirus.

"Although we're all frustrated and fed up with the restrictions and when something comes along like a magnificent Scotland team victory we all naturally want to celebrate."

The Deputy First Minister went on to read out a statement by NHS Grampian director of public health Susan Webb in relation to the fans’ behaviour.

She stated: "This virus does not rest, it does not take a minute off, much less 90 minutes, extra time and penalties.

"Letting our guard down gives it the opportunity to pass from person to person and as too many families can confirm, it can have deadly consequences."

The Deputy First Minister added: "I agree wholeheartedly with that.

"Yes we want to celebrate, but we also have to understand that following the social distancing rules and the FACTS guidance that I've set out are critical to interrupt the spread of the virus because what the virus needs, frankly, is human contact."

Mr Swinney had earlier praised the efforts of the Scotland team in reaching the European Championship finals next summer after a penalty shoot-out win last night.

"After a very tough year, the team have given the whole nation a lift at a time when we really needed it,” he said.

"We can all now look forward to Scotland taking part in the tournament next year after such a long break from these competitions.”

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