Rules around outdoor mixing set to ease next week as Scotland ‘absolutely intent’ on hosting Euros at Hampden

Georgina Hayes
·4-min read
Hampden Park, Glasgow - PA
Hampden Park, Glasgow - PA

Nicola Sturgeon has expressed optimism that rules on outdoor meetings will soon be relaxed and Scottish football fans will be allowed into Hampden to watch the national team play in this summer's European Championships.

Speaking as the number of daily Covid cases dropped to their lowest levels since September, the First Minister said she was keen "to get more potential to see loved ones" and would set out more details at Holyrood on Tuesday next week.

Praising Scotland’s progress in driving down the spread of the virus, Ms Sturgeon announced 498 cases in the past 24 hours - the lowest daily total since September 27.

She said there could be an announcement on "relatively minor, but important changes to the rules around our ability to meet people outdoors, and also on how young people are able to interact with friends outdoors".

The Scottish Government's updated plan for moving out of lockdown says that a plan to allow four people from two households to meet outdoors is unlikely to begin before March 15, with the same date given for the resumption for non-contact, outdoor group sports for 12-17 year olds.

Ms Sturgeon also said she was hopeful that she will be at Hampden to cheer on Scotland in Euro 2020, the team's first international tournament in 22 years.

“I certainly hope so and nobody wants Scotland to lose the Euros and I don’t think we should be in the position right now of thinking that’s the case,” she said.

Andy Robertson of Scotland celebrates after his team's victory in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2020 Play-Off semi-finals match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park - Getty Images Europe
Andy Robertson of Scotland celebrates after his team's victory in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2020 Play-Off semi-finals match between Scotland and Israel at Hampden Park - Getty Images Europe

While Scotland are scheduled to open their campaign against the Czech Republic on June 14 and will face Croatia in Glasgow on June 22, the city is at risk of being removed as a venue for the tournament along with Dublin and Bilbao because there are no guarantees about fans attending matches.

The Scottish Football Association has said it remains in talks with UEFA about Hampden hosting four matches at this summer’s games, and hopes that “as many fans as possible” can attend the fixtures.

Ms Sturgeon added: “We are absolutely intent on having the Euros, having Hampden as one of the host stadiums of the Euros, we’ve always been intent on that – let’s say we’re particularly keen on it now that that would bring the opportunity to see Scotland play at Hampden as well.

“So while nothing in a global pandemic can be certain when you’re looking far into the future I very, very, very, very, much want and hope – and hopefully over the next few weeks get a greater degree of confidence in saying I expect to be one of many Tartan Army fans cheering on Scotland at Hampden later in the year, so let’s keep our eyes on that prize.”

However, she warned Scots "not to get carried away" as official figures disclosed that people over 65 who have been vaccinated are now recording greater levels of contact with others than those who have not had their jabs.

If people stick with the rules, she said she was “really, really optimistic that we will continue to see the progress we need to see to start opening things up and getting us all back to much more reality”.

"We also know then just how quickly things started to go in the wrong direction,” she warned. "It is really important we stick with it for now, hold our nerve, keep suppressing cases while vaccination does its job.

"If we do all of that, we can be really hopeful that there are definitely, at long last, better days lying ahead."

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said it would be “terrible” if Scotland could no longer host the Euros fixtures.

"Public health must always be the number one priority but I would urge the SNP Government to get round the table with the footballing authorities as soon as possible.

"Our fans deserve to see Euros matches kick off in Scotland and every effort must be put into making sure that happens.

"The UK's world leading vaccine rollout has made the possible return of fans possible. Let's hope the SNP get this right and find a solution."