A health boss has warned coronavirus does not take a “minute off, much less 90 minutes, extra time and penalties” after videos emerged of football fans cheering and hugging during the Scotland game last night.
Calls have today been made for licensing bosses in Aberdeen to investigate the videos, taken in The Draft Project in Aberdeen, which have been shared widely on social media.
They show fans singing the national anthem, cheering and hugging as Scotland beat Serbia 1-1 by penalties to secure their first Euros entry in more than 20 years.
While showing sporting events on television in hospitality venues is permitted, current coronavirus restrictions prevent singing or raising your voice, and business owners must ensure at least a one-metre distance between people unless they are from the same household.
Police confirmed they attended The Draft Project as part of their city patrols and helped staff eject “a number of patrons following a spontaneous reaction” to the first Scotland goal.
No arrests or fines were issued.
Chief Inspector David Howieson added: “Police are working in close consultation with the local authority environmental health and licensing teams to investigate the full circumstances.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman confirmed they were investigating with police.
Hundreds of people have criticised the celebratory scenes, along with local politicians and members of the Scottish Hospitality Group.
But bosses of the pop-up bar, PB Devco, insisted all fans had been reminded of the rules and questioned what critics would have done to stop the crowds.
Today, NHS Grampian’s director of public health Susan Webb said while she understood the “desire to celebrate”, the risks of coronavirus are still too high.
She said: “I am aware of footage being shared on social media, apparently shot in licensed premises in Aberdeen during last night’s Scotland match.
“While I cannot comment on these specific circumstances, I can say this – this virus does not rest.
“It does not take a minute off, much less 90 minutes, extra time and penalties. Letting our guard down gives it the opportunity to pass from person to person and, as too many families can confirm, it can have deadly consequences.
“I absolutely understand the desire to celebrate. Staff working across the NHS want to celebrate too. We want to return to normal.
“That can only happen if we all work together and keep sticking to the guidance.”
The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which represents a number of businesses in the sector and has recently called for less stringent restrictions on pubs and restaurants, condemned the behaviour shown in the clips.
They wrote on Twitter: “The scenes coming from #draftproject tonight in Aberdeen are nothing short of disgraceful.
“The SHG condemn fully the behaviour of the operator & customers. There is a duty to protect public health and we would support any action taken by authorities after any investigation.”
Lib Dem councillor Martin Greig and Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart have both called on the police and council to investigate.
Mr Greig said: “The selfish, irresponsible actions are core reason why the infection is increasing.
“The failure to manage customer behaviour within a licensed premise needs to be explained and accounted for.”
He added that authorities must “consider the appropriate response towards Soul”.
Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden called for action against the individuals shown in the videos, saying: “I am angry and disappointed by the scenes of fans celebrating during the match last night.
“Many people have worked hard to allow businesses to open in a safe way to allow physical distancing and that work gets completely undermined by a few people who spoil it for everyone else.
“I would hope that the contact details for these people in the bar last night are now passed on to the police for them to take action.”
‘We tried our best’
But Josh Clarkson, whose father Stuart founded PB Devco, defended the bar’s actions in a series of comments on Facebook.
He wrote: “We did everything we could. Everyone commenting, could you of [sic] done a better job? How can you control customers who are running about?
“We stick by all regulations. If you ask anyone who was there tonight, everyone was warned.
“We tried our best, only so much you can do.”
Aberdeen’s deputy lord lieutenant Willie Young also took to Twitter to defend the bar.
Responding to one user saying Soul deserves to lose their licence, he said: “Why, what has Soul bar done apart from opened there premises so people can enjoy a football match.
“Those breaking the rules deserve to be fined, not Soul bar. We need a bit of fun in our lives don’t you think?”
He suggested another user should “get a life” for wanting to “punish the premises for 30 seconds of people celebrating a goal”.
Members of public however remained furious.
One person wrote: “The people involved are to blame first, but Soul are evidently not doing enough and may have become a haven for tools who want to totally flaunt the rules and put the city in danger.”
Another user said: “There’s not a PR company in the world will get you out of this one. Licence removed and a hefty donation to the NHS to treat those that will need it now might be a start though.”