Nicola Sturgeon has announced she will have further discussions with football authorities and with “certain football clubs” to avoid any repeat of scenes where thousands of Rangers fans gathered to celebrate their team’s league victory.
The first minister addressed the events of Sunday when fans congregated in George Square and outside Ibrox Stadium after their side took their first top-flight title in 10 years.
During her Covid-19 update to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, the first minister said she shared the “anger and despair” that the “vast majority” felt towards crowds of supporters “flagrantly breaching rules”.
The SNP leader said she was due to meet Chief Constable Iain Livingstone later on Tuesday afternoon to consider what further action might be necessary to “avoid any repeat of the unacceptable scenes we saw at the weekend”.
Ms Sturgeon added that she would be having further discussions with the football authorities and with “certain football clubs” that she said “need to show much more leadership”.
The first minister also announced she will set out a “firmer, indicative timetable” next week for reopening the economy, including shops, hairdressers and hospitality.
She told MSPs Rangers “did not do nearly enough to help avoid this situation arising at the weekend”.
It comes after the football club wrote to the first minister following strong criticism of its approach to dissuading supporters to celebrate at the weekend.
Speaking during Monday’s coronavirus briefing, Deputy First Minister John Swinney described the behaviour of some fans as an “absolute disgrace” and said the “silence from Rangers was deafening”.
‘Mr Swinney has chosen to lambast Rangers publicly’
In a statement to Ms Sturgeon, the club said: “It is particularly disappointing that there has been a lack of acknowledgement from the Scottish Government to the wide range of efforts we undertook to limit public safety issues.
“It is also particularly disappointing that Mr Swinney has chosen to lambast Rangers publicly, given the fact that we had proactively initiated engagement with Police Scotland, the SPFL, the Scottish Government as well as a local MP.”
Scotland’s top police officer has asked an expert to scrutinise the force’s handling of the unlawful celebrations in Glasgow at the weekend.
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone asked John Scott QC to consider the events at the next scheduled Independent Advisory Group (IAG) meeting on Friday.
This will include looking at “any relevant issues for the policing of future events over the coming months”.
Giving her Covid-19 update to the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon announced that from Friday, four people from two households will be able to meet outdoors for exercise and social recreation.
She added that “further, more substantial changes” will be possible in the weeks ahead and if the data show this can be accelerated, the Scottish Government “will not hesitate to do that”.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called for frontline workers – including police officers and teachers – to be prioritised in the next stage of the vaccination programme.
He said he shared the first minister’s “sadness and anger” at the scenes in Glasgow, adding that police interactions with fans underlined the need to vaccinate officers.
Mr Sarwar welcomed the decision to allow more social interaction but said ensuring that “this is our last lockdown” would depend on “testing, contact tracing and a speedy vaccine programme”.
An ‘absolute joke’
Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson said the scenes in Glasgow “risks what has been achieved by the actions of all of us”.
She also pressed the first minister on plans to get pupils back into the classroom, which will see secondary school pupils return to school on at least a part-time basis from March 15.
Reading out correspondence from parents across Scotland, Ms Davidson said “Elaine in Aberdeen was devastated to be told that her son will have two three-hour sessions this side of the Easter holiday”.
She also read comments from “Alan in Fife” who said his daughter gets one day per week but no other live teaching time online, which he branded an “absolute joke“.
Ms Davidson asked the first minister to look again at the actual amount of face-to-face teaching time pupils will receive.
In response, Ms Sturgeon said “few groups in society have found this as hard as parents who have had to juggle childcare with working from home”.
She added that from March 15, the government will seek to have “some” in-school learning for secondary pupils between now and the Easter break even if that is on a “fairly minimal basis” in order to prioritise the wellbeing of all children.
The SNP leader said: “I don’t stand here and say that is perfect but we need to balance all of this to get schools back and to get schools back in a way that doesn’t then set back the progress of the country overall.”
The announcement of some easing from Friday comes as a number of measures show Scotland’s coronavirus situation is improving.
There were 466 cases recorded around the country, the third-lowest total since November, while the number of patients in Scottish hospitals with the virus dropped by 40 in the last 24 hours.
Those on JCVI priority lists eight and nine, which includes people aged between 50 and 59, will now be invited to receive their first dose of the Covid vaccine.
There has been a dip in vaccinations due to supply issues, but they are expected to improve again by the middle of March.