Coachloads of Scots are heading towards towns such as Blackpool, Newcastle and other towns to celebrate, but partygoers have been urged to be cautious amid rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. Experts believe as many as 100,000 Scottish and Welsh revellers could journey across the border to celebrate as they try to avoid restrictions. The mass travel south comes after Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ordered nightclubs to close and said pubs can only offer table service in an effort to curb the rising numbers of cases caused by the Omicron variant
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has not condemned people travelling from Scotland to England to celebrate, instead urging revellers to “enjoy New Year but in a cautious and sensible way.”
Scottish bar bosses have urged Ms Sturgeon to “do a Boris” and reverse her decision to cancel Hogmanay celebrations.
Trade body Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland said it was “no surprise” people were planning to make a cross-border journey to bring in the new year.
An NTIA spokesperson said: “The industry has consistently warned devolved Governments that the closure of the late-night economy could result in an escalation in house parties and illegal events given the restrictions over the last year and the understandable desire to celebrate the new year.”
Meanwhile, Welsh partygoers are expected to descend on Bristol if Wales’ Labour leader Mark Drakeford refuses to make a U-turn on strict curbs.
Scott Lawrie, 37, landlord of The Meadow House, the last pub in England on the A1 before you cross into Scotland, said: “Being able to trade for the Christmas and New Year period is a godsend.”
Mr Lawrie, who took over the pub recently, said Scots have previously come in their droves due to stricter lockdown conditions over the border.
He added: “We expect coaches from Scotland.”
Care home ‘pubs’ helped elderly go through the lockdowns
The Government has advised people to test themselves prior to attending any New Year’s Eve party, however, there is a nationwide shortage of lateral flow tests.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has acknowledged a global shortage of lateral flow and PCR tests was impacting the UK.
However, the UK Health Security Agency said almost eight million test kits would be made available to pharmacies by New Year’s Eve.
In Scotland, only three households can socialise at indoor and outdoor venues – including bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms – with one-metre social distancing enforced.
Table service is also making a comeback in places where alcohol is served.
Meanwhile, in Wales, the loathed Rule of Six has returned – with only half a dozen people allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.
Two-metre social distancing is required in public premises and offices, and nightclubs closed their doors ahead of New Year’s Eve.
And in Northern Ireland, nightclubs have shut, indoor standing events are banned and only three separate households are permitted to get together – with the Rule of Six returning to pubs, bars and restaurants.
Ms Sturgeon said it is “prudent” and “essential” to take action to reduce transmission of the disease in order to ‘avoid the sheer volume of cases overwhelming us’.
Some 15,849 positive cases were recorded in Scotland yesterday – the highest number of the pandemic “by some margin” – while 679 people were in hospital, 80 more than the previous day.