There are three games taking place tonight in the Scottish Premiership as Celtic travel to St Mirren, Hibs host Aberdeen and St Johnstone host Ross County – however with all three SPFL games allowed to operate at full capacity, the move to restrict gates to 500 from Sunday is utterly baffling.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has decreed that any outdoor event must be capped at a capacity of 500 – regardless of whether it’s at Hampden or Hill O’ Beath as they try to get the surge of Covid cases caused by the Omicro variant under control.
Obviously, public heath is the first priority and football games should come a distant second but when we’re sitting just a few days out from national clinical director Jason Leitch insisting that the virus doesn’t like the environment football is played in in Scotland in winter then it stops making much sense to the average punter like yours truly.
Leitch did raise concerns about people travelling to and from matches, understandably, but the new restrictions don’t actually do anything to limit people travelling on trains or buses in big numbers to go to do literally anything else.
Speaking on BBC Scotland last week Leitch said: “Once you get to the cup final, I’m actually not that worried because that’s outdoors, it’s a big space, it will be Scotland in December – it will likely be windy and cold. So the virus won’t like that.
“What I am worried about is the buses, the cars, the trains getting to that event.”
Fast forward to yesterday and Deputy First Minister John Swinney is claiming the Cup final could have been a “super spreader” event, responding to a question asking if Celtic’s League Cup win could lead to a spike in cases by saying: “It could well be.
“I think it stands to reason that if we have large numbers of people, 50,000 fans travelling towards a sporting event in one particular part of the country, using multiple modes of transport and interacting with each other – there is a very high danger that will be a super spreader event.
“I regret the fact we didn’t make this decision earlier.”
So surely it stands to reason that the three games tonight could have similar effects – albeit on a slightly reduced scale.
Shaun Maloney’s first game in charge of Hibs tonight is sure to see well in excess of 10,000 descend on Easter Road as the Hibees host Aberdeen while Celtic’s trip to St Mirren is almost certain to see the SMISA Stadium near to its 8000-ish capacity.
Is Covid taking the day off to go do some Christmas shopping? Are Leith and Paisley somehow inherently immune to the virus? After two years of hearing decision making will be made by following the science, even someone with a whopping two Standard Grades in the sciences can pick MASSIVE holes in this one.
It is either safe for fans to attend games or it isn’t. If the government truly thinks that football fans are potentially spreading the virus and making things worse, then we’ll stand right behind them as we try to get back to normality.
However, trying to convince us that it’s fine to go to games tonight but come Sunday afternoon it is a huge threat is beyond nonsensical.
A little after four months after grounds were allowed to open back up to 100% capacity, reducing gates to 500 from Boxing Day is little more than an attempt to be seeing do something, rather than properly trying to fix the problem.
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