People across the north-east are being urged to stick to the rules this Hogmanay to stop the spread of coronavirus.
NHS Grampian bosses said they “could not emphasise enough” the importance of not mixing with others to wave off 2020 – warning that although approval of the new vaccine was good news, it did not mean the threat of Covid-19 would disappear at the stroke of midnight.
With most of Scotland in Level 4, gatherings of any kind are not permitted.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday urged people to see in 2021 in their own homes, warning of the recent spike in cases.
🛑 COVID cases are rising. Level 4 restrictions are now in place across mainland Scotland to suppress the new strain. It is especially vital that we do not mix indoors with other households, including at Hogmanay. Please plan to bring in 2021 at home with your own household.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 29, 2020
Ms Sturgeon is due to update Holyrood today at 3.30pm, where MSPs will also discuss the restrictions currently in place and whether any changes are necessary.
Mainland Scotland will remain in Level 4 until at least January 16.
Now bosses at NHS Grampian and Aberdeenshire Council have echoed her pleas for people to stay within their own households for the bells.
Susan Webb, director of public health at NHS Grampian, said: “Many people, myself included, will be heartily glad to see the back of this year and I completely understand the desire to celebrate a new year. Unfortunately, we will not be leaving Covid-19 behind us when we bid farewell to 2020.
“I know we have asked so much of you all this year and we’re asking again – please do not host or attend Hogmanay parties, no matter how small. Remember we are in Level 4 and should not be socialising with other households indoors, or travelling to other local authority areas.
“The approval of a second vaccine for use in the UK is great news but it does not mean we can all get back to ‘normal’. With many thousands of people in Grampian alone eligible for immunisation, it will take time to roll it out.
“Until we see significant numbers vaccinated, we all need to keep doing the things we’ve been doing all these months: limiting contact with other households, using face coverings, washing hands with water and soap, and keeping our distance when carrying out essential tasks like shopping.
“I want everyone to think creatively about the ways they can mark the arrival of 2021 in their household groups. This could be movie marathons, playing boardgames or cards, or cooking up a special meal.”
“With people having mixed for Christmas it is highly likely we will see the number of hospitalisations increase in the coming days – we’ve already seen them climb since 23/12– & further mixing gives the virus a great platform to spread and affect those that are most vulnerable.
— NHS Grampian (@NHSGrampian) December 30, 2020
Consultant in critical care Lee Allen echoed her plea and urged people to stay within their own households.
He added: “With people having mixed for Christmas it is highly likely we will see the number of hospitalisations increase in the coming days – we’ve already seen them climb since 23/12 – and further mixing gives the virus a great platform to spread and affect those that are most vulnerable.
“The higher the number of infections now and in the coming days, the less of our usual elective care we’ll be able to provide in the weeks and months ahead as pressure mounts – but by obeying the guidelines the everyone can play their part in lifting that.”
Aberdeenshire Council also urged people to think creatively about how they could mark the new year, suggesting a virtual celebration.
Prepare now for a virtual Hogmanay tomorrow. Mixing with other family groups indoors isn’t permitted because of the risk it poses to increasing the spread of #covid. You can help by staying home this New Year. pic.twitter.com/4lMH7avqDb
— AberdeenshireCouncil (@Aberdeenshire) December 30, 2020