Cop26 poses inevitable risk of increased Covid transmission, says Sturgeon

The Cop26 conference poses an inevitable risk of increased Covid-19 transmission, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland’s First Minister urged those visiting Glasgow for the conference, including delegates and activists, to follow measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

Speaking during a media briefing on Friday ahead of the start of the UN conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “This event which is bringing people from all around the world together to meet indoors in large numbers while the world is still in the midst of a pandemic inevitably poses a risk of increased Covid transmission. And I understand why that makes some people wary.

“However I want to give an assurance again today that we are doing everything possible to mitigate these risks as far as is possible.”

She said efforts have been made to ensure delegates are fully vaccinated.

Those entering the restricted blue zone will need to take a lateral flow test, she added, and mask wearing and one-metre social distancing will be in place.

Ms Sturgeon said she expects both pre-planned and spontaneous protests to take place during the two-week conference, which begins on Sunday.

“I want to thank the organisers of these demonstrations – as well as a number of other activist groups – for the engagement they have had with the city and with the police to ensure that their demonstrations take place safely and securely,” she said.

She said that regardless of views on the summit, “progress will not be made if discussions are disrupted”.

Ms Sturgeon continued: “More generally – and this of course applies to all protests – I would ask that people demonstrating show consideration for the city and people who live here.

Police officers in Glasgow
Police Scotland’s chief constable warned protesters intent on violence they will be ‘robustly’ dealt with (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“The people of Glasgow are opening their city up to the world at what is a difficult time for everybody around the world.

“I hope those who are travelling into the city, welcome though they are, recognise that.”

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told the briefing that those intent on causing violent disorder during the Cop26 summit will be responded to “swiftly and robustly”.

He said policing the international conference will be one of the largest operations to have taken place anywhere in the UK.

“We will protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest at Cop26, balanced against the rights of the wider community,” he said.

“But to those intent on violent disorder and damage, to those who seek to disrupt the climate conference actually taking place, I have a clear message: We will respond swiftly and we will respond robustly.”