Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Football matches and major sporting events may be postponed until Covid-19 vaccine is found, says Nicola Sturgeon

The scene at Murrayfield before Scotland played France on March 8. The UK went into lockdown on March 23.
The scene at Murrayfield before Scotland played France on March 8. The UK went into lockdown on March 23.

Football, rugby and other major sporting fixtures could be postponed until a coronavirus vaccine is found, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

The first minister said fans should not expect the sporting calendar to resume “any time soon” and there were “issues” with playing matches behind closed doors.

At her daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon insisted that exiting lockdown would not be rushed, adding she was not in a position to give dates on when things might start to get back to normal.

With football clubs facing severe financial difficulties, Ms Sturgeon was asked about warnings from epidemiologists that stadiums should not be filled until a vaccine is ready.

Scientists across the world are working on a Covid-19 vaccine. But official estimates suggest developing one could take between 12 and 18 months.

“People should not be under the expectation that large-scale mass gatherings will be starting any time soon, because we must make sure that we are doing everything we can to continue to suppress this virus,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Some form of social distancing is going to be required perhaps up to the point where a vaccine is available.”

Nicola Sturgeon

For lockdown restrictions to be lifted, Ms Sturgeon said they had to be replaced by the capability to  “test, trace and isolate” those infected with the disease.

The first minister added that people needed “to have the understanding that some form of social distancing is going to be required perhaps up to the point where a vaccine is available”.

Earlier this month Dr Zach Binney, an epidemiologist at Altanta’s Emory University, said he was “as close to 100%” as he’d ever been that sports stadiums should not be filled to capacity until there was a vaccine.

Ms Sturgeon said she was being as “frank and honest as possible” on the issue. She  acknowledged people wanted to get “a semblance of normality” as soon as possible.

But she warned: “We can’t do that in a way that risks a resurgence of this virus.”

She admitted her words were “not good news” for sports fans.

“But I would be wrong to try and give false expectation right now about an early resumption of football matches or rugby matches or large-scale sporting events like that,” the first minister added.

On the question of playing big games behind closed doors, Ms Sturgeon said the option would be “carefully considered”, but warned that there was a “danger” that people would still gather to watch the matches on television.

“In terms of playing behind closed doors, clearly there are issues there in terms of: does that completely take away the risk of big events if a match is being played behind closed doors but it is still on television?” Ms Sturgeon said.

“The danger is, people will still congregate together in groups to watch that. So these things all have to be very carefully considered.”

Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith agreed. Dr Smith said: “The very act of playing behind closed doors does not mean to say that we won’t see gatherings of people trying to enjoy sport together and all it does sometimes is that it displaces people to other environments to watch sport together.

Dr Gregor Smith.

“So we need to be very careful and we need to be led by what the science and the evidence is for the future as we begin to learn how to live with this virus.”

A Scottish Rugby Union spokesman said: “We have aligned ourselves with the Scottish Government’s health advice, which we are taking extremely seriously.

“There’s no question this will have an extremely significant impact on the game. No-one truly knows when sport and rugby will be up and running again.”

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will set out “towards the end of this week” a framework which will guide its lifting of lockdown measures.

She said: “I want to be clear, however, that the initial version of this work will not set out what measures will be lifted and when.

“We are simply not yet in the position to take those decisions in a properly informed way.”

Ms Sturgeon said she would not be publishing a “blueprint” on how and when Scotland would come out of lockdown, but would set out what the Scottish Government was trying to achieve.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from the Press and Journal Scottish politics team

More from the Press and Journal