First Minister plays down suggestions new restrictions will last six months

The return of Scottish sports fans is likely to be delayed again but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon played down suggestions that increased restrictions could be in place for six months.

Sturgeon announced that relaxations earmarked for October 5 were unlikely to be introduced.

That includes the return of sports fans, which had already been pushed back for at least three weeks.

However, Sturgeon would not follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s warning that new measures could be in place for “perhaps six months”, as he scrapped plans to allow supporters back into English stadiums from October 1.

Funding announcement for Scottish football team
Funding announcement for Scottish football team

After announcing a 10pm curfew for hospitality venues and the extension of restrictions on household interaction across the country, Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament: “It’s important that I indicate, in light of the current situation, that the route map changes with an indicative date of October 5, are unlikely now to go ahead on that time scale.”

Sturgeon addressed talk of restrictions being in place for six months following earlier announcements from the UK Government and medical officers for England.

“It is certainly the case that, until significant developments such as a vaccine change the game in the battle against Covid, it will have a continuing impact on people’s lives,” she said.

Nicola Sturgeon played down talk of a further six-month absence
Nicola Sturgeon played down talk of a further six-month absence

“But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the new restrictions I am announcing will be in place for six months.

“By acting early and substantially, our hope is that these new measures will be in place for a shorter period than would be the case if we waited longer to act.

“In the first instance we will review these measures in three weeks, although given the nature of this virus, it is important to be clear that they may be needed for longer than that.”

Edinburgh fans at BT Murrayfield last month
Edinburgh fans at BT Murrayfield last month

Test events with about 300 socially-distanced fans have taken place at BT Murrayfield during an Edinburgh-Glasgow encounter, and in the Scottish Premiership hosted by Aberdeen and Ross County.

However, plans for further trial runs were shelved after a rise in Covid-19 cases. The latest 24-hour periods saw 383 positive tests, the highest figure since April 18.