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Covid Scotland: Jason Leitch warns of ‘big unknown’ after Liverpool club trial

Covid Scotland Jason Leitch
Professor Jason Leitch and the Scottish Government have tightened up Covid isolation rules

Jason Leitch has said the return of football and other events faces a “big unknown” in Scotland as coronavirus restrictions ease.

The health advisor said social distancing was the unknown factor as football fans look to return to stadiums.

Speaking on the Off The Ball podcast, Prof Jason Leitch said it was not yet known what physical distancing measures could be in place in December.

He explained that reducing physical distancing guidelines would require the virus to be “almost eliminated” in Scotland.

Current rules state that people should remain at least two metres from those not in their household.

‘Big unknown’

Jason Leitch said he thought fans would be able to attend football matches for the start of the Premier League season.

He told the podcast: “I think there will be fans at the opening of the new season.

“The big unknown, for now, is physical distancing.

“What are we going to do with physical distancing in September, or December? When you start to reduce physical distancing you’ve got to have the virus almost eliminated in your country to make it safe.”

Prof Leitch added that the winter remains another “unknown” in terms of the virus. He said the rest of the football season, and open ticketing, would rely on what happened in winter.

Covid Scotland Jason Leitch
Revellers at the Circus Nightclub in Liverpool where a trial took place for the return of nightclubs

“The winter is a little bit of an unknown in terms of the virus. We’ll probably need more vaccinations and have a bit of a surge with the virus globally,” he said.

Speaking about the process for the return of fans, he added: “I can imagine a scenario in which we start with home fans, move to away fans who we know, and later in the season maybe you start to get that open access for everybody.”

His comments come after a trial event in Liverpool saw party-goers head to a nightclub for the first time since the pandemic hit.

Ticket holders were not required to socially distance but a negative test for the virus was required.

Current Scottish Government plans in the coronavirus roadmap set out the numbers which could be allowed at mass events.

Under level two rules, outdoor seated and open space events would be advised to operate with a maximum capacity of 500 people.

Standing events based outdoors would be limited to 250, whilst indoor seated events would be limited to 100 attendees.

Latest coronavirus statistics

The latest Scottish Government data for Saturday May 1 showed there was 175 new cases of the virus reported in the previous 24 hours.

One new death was also reported amongst people who had tested positive, taking the death toll under this measure to 7,660.

14 of the new cases were in NHS Fife, whilst five were in Taysie, according to Public Health Scotland.

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