Hogmanay revellers plot English ‘nightclub invasion’ after Scotland tightened Covid rules

Nightclubs and pubs in England are expecting coach loads of Scots wanting to celebrate Hogmanay after Nicola Sturgeon closed some venues and forced others to operate with one-metre social distancing.

Trade body Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland said it expected "significant numbers" to make the cross-Border journey so they can properly celebrate the new year.

Scott Lawrie, landlord of the Meadow House in Berwick-upon-Tweed, the first English pub on the A1 after crossing the border, told the Scottish Sun: “We expect coaches from Scotland.”

Donald MacLeod, who owns nightspots in Glasgow, also predicted that many people would travel to England for Hogmanay, which for some families in Scotland is a more important celebration than Christmas.

But he predicted the majority would get round Ms Sturgeon’s restrictions by holding house parties – the type of social gathering she has repeatedly warned could lead to the faster spread of the omicron variant.

All hospitality and indoor leisure premises north of the border have reintroduced one-metre social distancing. Licensed premises have also had to bring back table service.

Nightclubs have been forced to shut down until at least Jan 11 unless they can operate as late-night bars with table service and distancing.

Strict limits on attendance at large events in Scotland, including football matches, were imposed on Boxing Day. Theatres across the country have also had to close their doors.

‘Let the nightclub invasion begin’

Ms Sturgeon has argued that record Covid cases over the Christmas weekend showed the surge she had predicted was now "materialising" and action was required to stem the variant’s spread.

But Boris Johnson has refused to introduce similar restrictions in England for New Year after discussing the latest Covid data with Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, his chief scientific advisor.

Some Scottish revellers responded to the announcement by taking to social media to disclose they planned to travel to England for Hogmanay.

One tweeted: “Heard of loads of younger folks from Scotland organising buses to Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool for nights out.”

Another said it was “time to go to Manchester for New Year”, while a third asked: “Anyone know any good nightclub in England next to the Scottish border?” Another post said: “Let the nightclub invasion begin.”

Aaron Mellor, who runs venues in the north of England, told the Scottish Sun: “We’ll be welcoming Scottish revellers in Newcastle for Hogmanay.

“But we ask everyone to take a lateral flow test before they travel and ensure they have the legally required Covid NHS pass or proof of a negative LFT to enter venues.”

An NTIA spokeswoman said: "We are obviously disappointed to be closed during the busiest trading week of the year. It’s very likely we will see some businesses go to the wall unless substantial extra financial support is confirmed by the Scottish Government within days.

“We expect significant numbers will head across the border to party in England given the more relaxed attitude of the UK Government. This is an inevitable consequence of differing levels of restrictions across the four nations.”

Mr MacLeod said: "The irony is clear: a world-famous Scottish tradition is banned and the hospitality sector is paralysed by a party that claims it sticks up for the people of Scotland.

"I think a lot of people will go down south, but most will do the very thing we’re trying to avoid and gather together in houses and say to hell with the restrictions.”

‘Nicola Sturgeon has lost the plot’

He added: “Nicola Sturgeon has lost the plot. The over-reaction to omicron has been incredible. Scottish hospitality, retail, leisure and live music sectors have all been destroyed over the last three weeks."

The publication last week of the first real-world data, from Scotland, revealed that people infected by the variant are up to two-thirds less likely to end up in hospital.

The research by Edinburgh University suggested omicron caused far milder illness than the delta variant and that the booster jab provided "substantial" extra protection against symptoms.

But Ms Sturgeon has argued that the increased transmissibility of omicron means the NHS could still be overwhelmed by a much higher number of cases.

Prof Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, told BBC Radio Scotland: "The modelling suggests that the peak of the omicron wave in the United Kingdom will be somewhere around mid to late January, maybe even pushing into February.

"That will depend quite a lot on human behaviour. That will depend on what we do now.

"We may not want the peak earlier, remember, because if this is an enormous wave we may want it to draw out over a longer period because you might then get more people vaccinated."

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