Nicola Sturgeon and police have urged football fans not to flout lockdown measures this weekend to watch the first Celtic v Rangers clash of the season.
The Glasgow clubs will play behind closed doors at Celtic Park on Saturday due to Covid-19 restrictions.
With pubs in Scotland’s central belt closed under temporary measures, there have been reports of some supporters planning to travel to Blackpool to watch the game in bars.
Ms Sturgeon has previously warned against travelling to the seaside resort and the latest intervention from Lancashire Police comes as the county prepares to enter the highest level of lockdown restrictions for England.
Speaking during the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Friday, the First Minister asked supporters not to gather outside the stadium or in other people’s homes.
Ms Sturgeon also told fans not to travel to other parts of Scotland or to areas in England where such restrictions are not in force.
She made the appeal as she announced nine more deaths of coronavirus patients have been recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,594.
A total of 1,196 people have tested positive for coronavirus over the same time period, while the number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus continues to grow.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m afraid that watching football, no matter how essential it might feel to some, does not fall into that essential category.
“Nobody likes the fact that these restrictions have to be in place but they are vital to protecting all of us and keeping us safe.
“So please comply with restrictions – by doing that you will be playing your part in helping us get the virus under control and you’ll be helping hasten the day when we can all watch and enjoy the things that we love doing, whether that’s football or the many things that we find ourselves not able to do normally.”
The First Minister added she “struggled to understand” why anyone would considering flouting the rules to watch football.
We are urging football fans travelling from Scotland to Blackpool, to watch the Old Firm match between Celtic and Rangers, to reconsider their plans following today's announcement Lancashire enters the Very High Tier 3 COVID alert level tomorrow.https://t.co/5aAQZWzf25pic.twitter.com/AWRZgzpqrI
— Lancashire Police (@LancsPolice) October 16, 2020
Meanwhile, Lancashire Police issued a statement urging fans not to travel to Blackpool to watch the match, with the county entering the “very high” Tier 3 level of lockdown on Saturday.
Superintendent Damian Kitchen said: “In these circumstances, I’d urge football fans to reconsider any plans to travel to the resort.
“Many pubs and bars will be shut and it’s likely you will miss some or all of the match – far better to stay at home and enjoy it in comfort.”
He added: “We will have a very visible policing presence throughout the weekend and we’ll be working with our partners and council wardens to ensure that licensed premises are sticking to the rules.
“The rules are there to keep everyone, both residents and visitors, safe and we will enforce them where we need to.
“Please don’t risk missing watching your team.”