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Christmas party advice in Scotland – rules and guidance so far

Scots hoping to throw a glitzy Christmas party this year would be forgiven for being a little confused, especially given the emergence of the Omicron Covid variant.

With officials and MPs speaking up about get festive dos this year – and the scandal about Boris Johnson’s lockdown Christmas parties last year – the advice can get convoluted.

However, the official guidance in Scotland remains clear – there are still no limits on social gatherings in homes or public spaces.

The Scottish government removed limits on social gatherings and distancing last August.

Nonetheless, there are simple ways to make all gatherings with friends, family and colleagues safer.

Christmas parties could be under risk, but are still allowed in Scotland

Current Covid rules should be followed like mandatory face coverings in indoor public spaces.

Regarding vaccination, the Scottish government says: “One of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves and others against COVID-19 is to get the vaccine.”

How to reduce Covid risk when meeting people

The Scottish government has recommended four ways to reduce Covid risk.

  • Keep a safe distance from people not in your household, especially indoors – the greater the distance the greater the protection
  • Meet outdoors if possible, as this is safer than meeting indoors
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Open windows if you meet inside – the more fresh air you let in the safer it will be

How can people increase ventilation?

The guidance on the Scottish government’s website lists three ways to let in fresh air:

  • Meet outdoors if possible
  • Open windows or doors if meeting inside
  • Open windows where possible when travelling in cars, buses and trains

What have officials said about Christmas parties?

Group of young and beautiful women celebrating a new year in a glamorous style, in a restaurant. They are sitting at the table and saying cheers.
Professor Jason Leitch recommended that people get vaccinated and test before Christmas parties

On Tuesday, a health chief said Brits should not socialise unless necessary.

Jenny Harries, the chief executive of UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and head of NHS Test and Trace, said that limiting socialisation would also limit the spread of coronavirus.

She said: “Of course our behaviours in winter – and particularly around Christmas – we tend to socialise more, so I think all of those will need to be taken into account.

“So I think being careful, not socialising when we don’t particularly need to and particularly going and getting those booster jabs.”

In response, Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s National Clinical Director, said yesterday that people shouldn’t cancel office Christmas parties.

Even still, he urged Scots to practice caution.

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Prof Leitch responded on Sky News: “Don’t stop your arrangements to go Christmas shopping or visit your mum or have your office night out, but do it very carefully.

“When Sky News has its Christmas party or multiple Christmas parties, I don’t know how it works, I would lateral flow before I went to that.

“I would endeavour to have everybody vaccinated before I went to that and I would be careful when I was there.

“That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy the Christmas party.

“I’d have alcohol gel on the way in and I would make sure people were as distanced as you could, but I realised that’s ridiculous.

“So you can’t do it completely, but you can have safe events.

“When I have Christmas dinner here, my 81-year-old parents will do lateral flow tests not because I forced them to because they know that’s the right thing to do.

“You can have gatherings the science helps you have them more safely so why wouldn’t we do that?

“So, don’t cancel. Make them as safe as you can.”




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