Scotland cancels public New Year events as new COVID curbs announced

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday said public New Year's Eve celebrations in Scotland would be cancelled as she set out plans for post-Christmas restrictions on large scale events to try to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

Britain has reported record levels of COVID-19 cases over the past week, with officials and ministers warning that hospitalisations are also rising.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under pressure from many in his own party not to introduce further curbs, held off announcing new restrictions for England following a cabinet meeting on Monday but said they may yet be needed.

"We know from experience that if we wait until the data tells us conclusively that we have a problem for example, with hospital admissions, it will already be too late to act to avoid that problem," Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament.

She announced that from Dec. 26, for up to three weeks, there would be limit of 100 people for indoor standing events, 200 for indoor seated and 500 for any outdoor events. Social distancing of one metre would also be required.

"This will of course make sports matches, including football, effectively spectator-free over this three week period," she said.

"It will also mean unfortunately that large scale Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) celebrations, including that planned here in our capital city, will not proceed."

Edinburgh has one of the world's most famous Hogmanay street parties, drawing thousands of foreign tourists as well as local people.

Sturgeon also said that from Dec. 27, for up to three weeks, there would be extra measures for hospitality, including restricting those serving alcohol to table service only.