‘Sturgeon has single-handedly devastated the Scottish hospitality industry and ruined the country’s New Year festivities’: Fury north of the border and in Wales as their fun bans continue while the English are told to party on

  • England to rely on guidance to limit New Year’s socialising amid Omicron spread
  • Boris Johnson heeded pleas from hospitality bosses not to bring in restrictions
  • Legally binding rules were brought into place in Scotland and Wales from today
  • Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford have been accused of destroying economy
  • Nightclubs now shut in Wales and Scotland, scuppering New Year’s Eve plans 

Scotland and Wales residents have reacted with fury after Boris Johnson gave England’s New Year’s Eve celebrations the green light today by opting against bringing in tougher restrictions.

The Prime Minister resisted grim Omicron warnings and will instead rely on guidance to limit socialising over the New Year, as opposed to legally binding rules brought into place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from today.

Crunch talks with chief advisors Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance on Monday stoked fears Mr Johnson would follow the rest of the UK into introducing fresh rules.

However, pubs and nightclubs in England were given a huge lift as official Covid statistics appeared to justify No10’s reluctance to resort to economically-crippling curbs.

It has led to anger in Scotland and Wales, where revellers will have a number of restrictions placed upon the last social event of the year.  

Scottish nightclubs shuttered today, while hospitality businesses now need to return to offering only table service if serving alcohol.

Bars, restaurants and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms, theatres and museums  also have to reinstate one-metre social distancing regulations.

In Wales, meanwhile, a total of 30 people are allowed at indoor events while 50 people will be allowed at outdoor events.

First minister Mark Drakeford also said the two metre social distancing is being required in public premises and offices, and nightclubs have closed. 

Nicola Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford were today accused of ‘jumping the gun’ by bringing in tougher restrictions and ‘devastating the hospitality industry;.

Eileen Queen branded the decision an ‘utter disgrace’.

She tweeted: ‘An utter disgrace that sturgeon has all of us having 3 weeks of this. 500 football fans a game, hospitality hit dreadfully, and all the rest. 

Boris Johnson (pictured) is avoided imposing tough Covid restrictions for the New Year following a crunch meeting with scientists today

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon imposed tougher restrictions for the country, scuppering plans for Hogmanay celebrations

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a press conference at the Welsh Government Building in Cathays Park on December 22

Scottish and Welsh residents have reacted with fury over the introduction of new restrictions ahead of New Year’s Eve

Weddings, births and funerals ‘will be exempted from any future Covid crackdowns’

Weddings, births and funerals will be exempted from any future Covid-19 restrictions after limiting numbers during previous lockdowns was blamed for causing undue stress. 

The exemptions for life events are part of all scenarios that have been drawn up by the government to deal with the threat of Omicron. 

Possible restrictions considered by the PM over the past few days include closing pubs and restaurants indoors, bringing back the rule of six or restricting the number of households meeting indoors, and limiting capacity at mass events. 

But ministers are said to be against disrupting significant life events with the restrictions, even if they opt to bring back the rule of six in indoor settings, the Times reported. 

Among the proposals are plans to prevent hospitals forcing women to attend scans and check ups – as well as give birth – without their partners.  

And ministers are ‘increasingly optimistic but very cautiously optimistic’ they will avoid reimposing draconian lockdown rules in England before the new year.   

‘It’s not just that there’s a clear gap between cases and hospitalisations, but also that when people are going into hospital they tend to be there for less time,’ a government source told the Times. 

It is a stark difference from previous restrictions, under which the number of people allowed at weddings and funerals was capped – and saw the Queen attend Prince Philip’s funeral alone in April.   

‘England doing nothing on advice, and heeding it. sturgeon enjoys all this control of us, never detested a politician so much in my life.’ 

Another person said: ‘So Boris has wrong-footed Sturgeon because he followed the science and she followed her own flawed nationalist political agenda.

‘She has single-handedly devastated the Scottish hospitality industry and ruined the country’s New Year festivities’   

A third person tweeted: ‘Drakeford and Sturgeon jumped the gun. They should fund the damage they have done to Welsh and Scottish businesses. 

‘They cannot look to the UK to fund their unnecessary authoritarian behaviour.’

In England, infections were up just 7 per cent in a week to 98,515 on Monday, though the figures were for England only, and did not represent Britain’s situation as a whole.

However, other data laid bare the threat the NHS faces from Omicron in the New Year. 

Covid hospital admissions in England hit the highest level since February on Christmas Day, with 1,281 coronavirus-infected patients placed on wards, up 74 per cent in a week. 

Deaths more than trebled with 143 logged today compared to 44 last Monday. But this was down to a recording lag, which saw no fatalities registered on Christmas Day and just three on Boxing Day. 

Scotland’s cases spiralled to record highs during the festive break, but the tallies won’t be included in the UK-wide update until Wednesday, at the same time as Northern Ireland. Wales’ tolls for over Christmas are set to be logged officially on Tuesday.

Despite Mr Johnson’s reluctance to bring in new restrictions, Health Secretary Sajad Javid dangled the threat of tightening restrictions in 2022 to bring England in line with the rest of the home nations, urging New Year’s Eve party-goers to ‘remain cautious’.

The Prime Minister, though, heeded pleas from the hospitality industry urging him to hold firm amid hopeful signs that Omicron is not as dangerous as previous variants.

Pub bosses said they were ‘on the brink’ after a catastrophic Christmas, adding: ‘The future of our world famous pubs now depends on this.’    

And Mr Johnson was praised from within his own party for holding firm, with Conservative MPs saying the data did not support acting even tougher. 

Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, called the steps taken in Scotland and Wales an ‘over-reaction’.

James Evans, Welsh Conservative Senedd Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, joined those on social media criticising Mr Drakeford and Mrs Sturgeon for bringing in tougher measures.

He said: ‘The Welsh Government has yet to provide any scientific evidence to back up their new restrictions. 

‘The people of Wales are seeing through Mark Drakeford and are furious he is playing politics with their lives.’

Boss of hospitality chain JW Lees, William Lees-Jones, also tweeted last night that Mrs Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford were banned from its pubs.

He tweeted: ‘The @JWLeesBrewery Christmas gift to the UK this year is that we’re barring the following from all of our pubs – @NicolaSturgeon @MarkDrakeford @SusanMichie @Zubhaque @Peston @neil_ferguson.’

Mr Lees-Jones followed the tweet by confirming that the First Ministers were ‘barred for life’. 

The New Year’s Eve restrictions follow an announcement from Mrs Sturgeon last week that just 100 people would be able to attend a standing indoor event and 200 seated in Scotland.

Outdoor events will also be restricted to 500 – a rule which has hit football games hardest.

A furious tweeter said: ‘Drakeford and Sturgeon will soon be holding out their begging bowls for HMG financial support and time for the answer to come back – No.’

Another added: ‘Sturgeon and Drakeford are turning out to be tinpot socialist dictators who will end up ruining the hospitality industry in Scotland and Wales with lockdown rules that make no sense and do so much harm to the mental health of people.’

New Covid restrictions introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from today 

New coronavirus restrictions are being introduced in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland today as the country’s leaders try to combat rising Covid cases but politicians in England are unlikely to discuss further measures until Monday. 

The three nations have each imposed limits on the size of gatherings, requirements for social distancing and tighter rules for pubs, restaurants and leisure venues.  

The new rules mean that Boxing Day football matches in Scotland will be played in front of a maximum of 500 seated fans, while in Wales all large sporting events will be played behind closed doors. 

From today, a maximum of six people will be allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants in Wales and a total of 30 people will be allowed at indoor events while 50 people will be allowed at outdoor events.

First minister Mark Drakeford also said the two metre social distancing is being required in public premises and offices, and nightclubs will close.

The rules, in force from 6am this morning, are a revised version of alert level two.

In Scotland, large events will have one metre physical distancing and will be limited to 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.

A day later, up to three households can meet with a one metre distancing between groups at indoor and outdoor venues like bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms. Table service is also needed at places where alcohol is served.

Northern Ireland is also bringing in restrictions on Boxing Day and December 27, with indoor standing events no longer permitted and nightclubs closing.

Socialising will be reduced to three households while up to six people can meet in pubs, bars and restaurants. Ten people will be allowed if they are from the same household. Only table service will be available.

A two metre social distancing rule will be in place in public premises and offices.

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