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First Minister’s COVID-19 Update

The Joint Response Group sympathises with clubs and supporters across the country
following today’s confirmation by the First Minister that Scottish football will again be
subject to restrictions on stadium capacity.

From Boxing Day and for three weeks thereafter, football attendances will be capped at 500
people in line with all outdoor events. One metre physical distancing will also be required
within a stadium during that time.

The JRG is already in discussions with Scottish Government on behalf of clubs to ensure any
loss of income at this critical period will be compensated via the COVID-19 support fund
announced by the First Minister. The JRG will be holding a series of consultations about the
impact of the new restrictions over the next 24 hours.

The JRG has worked collaboratively with Scottish Government throughout the pandemic to
ensure the stadium environment can be a safe and enjoyable experience for all, including
the recent introduction of vaccine certification spot checking and asking supporters to
demonstrate a negative Lateral Flow Test prior to arrival.

A daily testing regime has been introduced across the Scottish Professional Football League
and enhanced protocols implemented for playing and team staff.

Equally, we aware of the threat of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus and, to that
end, have volunteered the use of stadia across the country to aid the vaccine and booster
jab programmes.

We appreciate the tough decisions faced by the government and clinicians in supressing the
transmission of Omicron and while we believe the mitigations implemented will have
enabled stadia to be as safe as possible for the two weeks prior to the winter break, we
have no control over the transport risks highlighted in today’s update.

Rod Petrie, Joint Response Group Chair: “Today’s announcement is a source of
disappointment to hundreds of thousands of fans across the country, for whom attending
football matches during the festive season has been a tradition spanning generations.

“None the less, public health remains a priority for everyone in society as well as a
responsibility for industries across the country, including football. The JRG exists to be the
conduit between the national game and the Scottish Government throughout the pandemic
and will continue to work with our members to ensure a seamless implementation of the
new restrictions, whilst working on their behalf to ensure compensation for lost revenue via
the UK and Scottish Government’s latest COVID relief fund.”

Neil Doncaster, Scottish Professional Football League Chief Executive: “Today’s news will be
a hammer blow to clubs and fans across the country, who simply could not have done more
to mitigate the impact of the ongoing pandemic. Despite the enormous financial impact, the
42 clubs have provided an invaluable source of reassurance, support and relief from the
day-to-day impact of COVID-19 in communities throughout Scotland and they will continue
to do so.

“Our clubs have adapted quickly and effectively to previous restrictions, and we will work
with them in implementing the guidance from today’s announcement in the coming days.”