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Edinburgh Hogmanay 2021: No fireworks as Covid causes celebrations to be curtailed

Nowhere else in the world celebrates Hogmanay like Scotland, but for a second year Covid restrictions caused large event cancellations.

Despite the rules, about 1,000 people of all ages climbed to the top of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill to make the traditional countdown to the bells at midnight.

Before Christmas, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people to “stay at home as much as possible.”

New limits on large public gatherings forced the cancellation of New Year’s Eve street parties, for the second year, including the one planned for Edinburgh which attracts tens of thousands of people.

Hogmanay street parties across Scotland were cancelled, with crowds at outdoor public events capped at 500 since Boxing Day, for at least three weeks, and numbers at indoor public events limited to 100 standing or 200 seated.

Some people were not deterred and travelled thousands of miles to party in Edinburgh and make the most of a scaled-down New Year.

Brenda Jane Baxter-Vell, from Zimbabwe, travelled to Edinburgh with her friend Captain Kevin Pope, having lost her husband to Covid-19 in November and her father earlier in the year.

HeraldScotland:

Mrs Baxter-Vell, speaking outside a bar on the Royal Mile, said: “We have a lot of family history in Scotland and will spend our time tracking it down.”

Captain Pope, formerly of the 1st Kings Own Scottish Borderers, said: “We booked and paid for the torchlight march to Calton Hill and are very disappointed.

“In the true spirit of flexibility, though, we have made plans within the guidance and restrictions.”

Hannah Vorchmann, 52, from Gdynia in Poland, said the £500 she and her husband paid for Hogmanay night in an Edinburgh hotel was a lot for them.

Mrs Vorchmann added: “We saw on the internet that the street celebrations in Edinburgh were off but we could not cancel and flew in today and leave at 4pm on New Year’s Day.

“Everything is so beautiful and we’ll be back next year.”

HeraldScotland:

No fireworks this year 

Eileen and Chris Chalmers from Dreghorn in Aryshire had a few days extra holiday to use.

Mrs Chalmers said: “We specifically chose to visit Edinburgh and the site at Mortonhall, in our campervan, because the large scale festivities were cancelled.

“It seemed an ideal time to come to the city.”

Canadian music producer, Karl Ziegler, aged 22 and his partner Liv May, 23, from Manchester, visited Edinburgh aiming to spend time with family.

Mr Ziegler said: “Covid has disrupted our plans because a member of the family has tested positive, so as Liv has not been here before we’ll be having a touristy three days.”

Ms Sturgeon said the restrictions were aimed at cutting down transmission of the Omicron coronavirus variant and because “large events put an additional burden on emergency services”.

The latest daily figures showed a further 11,962 cases of coronavirus had been recorded in Scotland – with 22.6% of tests coming back positive.

Thirteen further deaths were reported in Friday’s statistics, taking the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive test to 9,858.

HeraldScotland:

Meanwhile, 859 people were in hospital with coronavirus on Thursday, up from 810 the previous day, with those in intensive care rising by two to 36.

Piper Dave Tunstall, aged 44, who caught Covid-19 earlier in the year, drove to the capital, from Paisley, to busk on the Royal Mile.

“Busking with my pipes is helping pay the bills at the moment,” said Mr Tunstall, “I play the double bass in a band called Langan but work is short.

“In previous Hogmanays we have played gigs in London,” he added.

“It is great to be able to bring music to people at this time of year.”

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