Police pledge to break up rogue Hogmanay parties in Edinburgh as city leaders make 'final sacrifices' plea
Police chiefs have pledged to shut down rogue Hogmanay gatherings in Edinburgh – as city leaders urged the public to make one of their “final sacrifices” of the pandemic by shunning house parties over the bells.
Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham has vowed that his officers will “not hesitate” to use enforcement powers on Hogmanay if they need to do so due to the “ongoing risk” being posed by the pandemic.
Council chiefs also issued a direct plea to the public to abide by the current restrictions banning household mixing to help protect the NHS and reduce the risk of the virus spreading after “significant” recent surges in cases.
A joint statement from leader Adam McVey and his deputy Cammy Day stressed: “Following the rules now is the quickest way to get restrictions lifted.”
DCC Graham said: "We're asking everyone to continue to do the right thing to stop the spread of this virus and protect public health as it's clear that there is an ongoing risk.
"Parties and indoor gatherings of different households are not permitted and we will continue to use our enforcement powers to disperse large groups of people where necessary.
“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, but we will not hesitate to continue to use our enforcement powers as a last resort.
"Please follow the Scottish Government's advice, which is to celebrate Hogmanay and the new year, with your own household only, in your own home."
The council, which called off the city’s world-famous Hogmanay street party in July, later ruled out the staging of any official fireworks or light shows to mark the arrival of 2021 to avoid the risk of large crowds gathering.
Instead, the council and the government have funded a three-part film featuring drone effects filmed in the Highlands and superimposed onto iconic views across the city.
Ahead of the new year countdown, which normally sees around 75,000 revellers flood into the city centre, Mr McVey said: “Cases have increased significantly, so please don't go round to friends' houses and keep adhering to the guidance - more gatherings at Hogmanay will cause increased risk to people across the city and, in particular, our NHS staff and services.
"Hopefully we can look back at this Hogmanay as one of our final sacrifices in the battle against the virus.
“As 2020 comes to a close and with the roll out of vaccines underway, we can look more positively towards 2021.
"But for now, and this Hogmanay, please keep following the guidance, please stay at home and keep yourself and others safe.”
Cllr Day said: “Public safety must be our top priority as we continue the fight against Covid-19 and, by following the guidance as you have done so admirably since it began, you can play your part once more. Let’s see out the year safely and look forward to a better and more positive 2021.
“We’ve worked closely with Underbelly and other partners to produce a fitting online celebration of Hogmanay and, having already paid tribute to our NHS and frontline workers with a fantastic pyrotechnic show on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, I’d encourage everyone to tune in to the finale."
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