Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that fans returning to stadiums across the country could be put on hold as COVID-19 cases rise.
The Scottish First Minister is set to review the lockdown procedures at Holyrood on Thursday and has reaffirmed the point that the government could decide to ‘put the brakes on’ certain proposals.
Fans are set to return to stadiums on a trial basis this weekend. Ross County v Celtic and Aberdeen v Kilmarnock are set to host 300 home supporters each as Scottish football looks to return to some sort of normality.
If the 300-fan events are successful, the next step is for the number of supporters to be more than doubled across Premiership grounds for the weekend of games starting September 19.
Those hopes could be in jeopardy, however, following 159 positive Covid-19 tests being registered in Scotland in the last 24 hours. The First Minister says that whilst no final decisions have been made yet, they are having a good think about the return of fans.
“I’m not going to preempt the announcement I’m going to make in parliament tomorrow,” said Sturgeon. “But, I’ve said a few times this week, I’ve used terms like ‘putting the brakes on’, perhaps not going ahead with things we’d hoped to go ahead with given the evidence we’re seeing right now.
“People can draw a direction of travel from that, but in terms of detail I’m duty-bound to set that out to Parliament tomorrow. And, in any event, the way we take decisions in these three-week reviews, we haven’t yet finalised the decisions we’re taking on these things.
“On the test events, we’re thinking very carefully about all of this. We decided some weeks ago that we would (have test events), and this makes sense and is important before having (fans back in).
“A few weeks ago we might’ve hoped this would be sooner than it might turn out to be, to have spectators back in stadiums. We thought it would be sensible to do some pilot events to test the protections and the public health arrangements.”
“There was a rugby test match that took place at Murrayfield a number of weeks ago with spectators in and we given permission for a couple of other events, football, to happen over the next few days.
“But clearly we are in a changing situation right and I think, certainly, in future we may be a bit more mindful about things like this while the numbers are looking like they are. And I suppose that underlines the nature of what we’re dealing with and that’s always been true.
“It’s an infectious virus, we can’t control it completely, we can’t make it operate in the way we want it to, although by behaving in the ways we recommend we can have an impact on it.”