Cumbria Police warn Celtic and Rangers fans not to cross Scottish border to watch Old Firm derby

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·4 min read
Rangers' Ryan Kent challenges with Celtic's Scott Brown, right, during their Scottish Premiership soccer match at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, Sunday March 31, 2019. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)
Rangers' Ryan Kent and Celtic's Scott Brown, right, during their Scottish Premiership soccer match at Celtic Park in Glasgow in 2019. (AP)

Police have warned Scottish football fans not to travel across the border into England to watch the upcoming Old Firm derby.

Several bars and pubs in Cumbria have been contacted by Celtic and Rangers supporters looking to visit during the match on Saturday, according to Cumbria Police.

Licensed premises in the central belt of Scotland – covering the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas – are closed due to tighter coronavirus restrictions.

Police say fans who attempt to avoid the rules by travelling across the border will be punished.

Superintendent Matt Kennerley said: “We understand restrictions on licensed premises in Scotland might offer the temptation to travel south of the border to visit our pubs and bars – but anybody breaching rules here does face a fine.

A sign explaining their temporary closure is seen on the door of a restaurant in Edinburgh on October 9, 2020, as new restrictions come into force to combat the spread of coronavirus covid-19. - Scotland has ordered a two-week closure of pubs in the central part of the country including the main cities Glasgow and Edinburgh, as ministers try to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A sign explaining their temporary closure is seen on the door of a restaurant in Edinburgh. (Getty)

“We would like licensees to be aware of this and to think carefully about their responsibilities and the rules in place to protect everyone.

“For people in the central belt of Scotland, it is also important to remember the Scottish government is asking those people to think carefully about whether they need to travel outside their local health board area.

“Our officers will be out in town centres and busy areas to enforce breaches of the regulations.”

It comes as Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed that at least 180 people in Scotland who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last month have reported a recent trip to Blackpool.

Sturgeon said that a separate incident management team had been set up to deal with those who have travelled between the town and Scotland.

She said: “I need to advise you that trips to Blackpool are now associated with a large and growing number of COVID cases in Scotland.”

She added: “Blackpool is being mentioned in Test and Protect conversations far more than any other location outside of Scotland.”

According to the First Minister, 342 people who were contacted by Test and Protect in the last week after having contracted coronavirus reported travel outside of Scotland, 252 to somewhere else in the UK and 94 had been to Blackpool.

Sturgeon advised those who were looking to travel to the town not to do so, especially to watch this weekend’s Old Firm match in a pub.

COVID-19 regulations in Scotland are stricter than those currently in place across England, with household mixing banned.

The sale of alcohol is currently prohibited inside pubs, while in the central belt, where restrictions are tighter, all pubs are closed unless serving food – with alcohol still prohibited.

In England, tiered COVID-19 regulations are in place, with tougher regulations for areas with high coronavirus cases.

Watch: Scotland's restrictions ‘firmly rooted in scientific advice’

Pubs are permitted to be open and sell alcohol, but only served with meals and only in groups of no more than six people.

Businesses must operate in a COVID-secure manner, while pubs and restaurants must close at 10pm.

Mandatory travel restrictions are not in place in Scotland, but residents are urged to minimise travel as much as possible.

Urging people to think twice before travelling, Kennerley said:

He said: “Firstly consider if you do need to make that journey, as the more we restrict our contact the less likely the virus is to spread.

“If you do travel you must familiarise yourself with the rules in that area.

Boards put up on the windows of The Piper Bar shortly after the 6pm curfew, in Glasgow, as pubs and licensed restaurants in five health board areas across central Scotland have begun their enforced 16-day closure amid new restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Boards put up on the windows of The Piper Bar shortly after the 6pm curfew, in Glasgow. (PA)

“In Cumbria, you must comply with the rule of six, wear face coverings on public transport and contact tracing is in place in licensed premises.”

The warning comes as Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford threatened a travel ban in Wales on people from English COVID-19 hotspots.

He said he would close the Welsh border with England unless the UK government imposed regulations.

However, rejecting the proposal, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: "There are no physical borders between Wales and England.”

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wears a mask to protect from coronavirus, in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood prior to a making a statement outlining further coronavirus restrictions for Scotland, in Edinburgh, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. The Scottish government is banning indoor drinking at bars and forcing restaurants to close in the evening to help contain the coronavirus. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the measures were “a short, sharp action” and will last for 16 days starting Friday.  (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has introduced stricter COVID-19 restrictions than those in place across England. (AP)

A spokesman for Carlisle City Council said it was working with police to monitor the potential travel issues around the Old Firm derby.

He added: “We urge local businesses to comply with the new legal requirements or they could face getting a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.

“All employers have a legal responsibility under health and safety law to assess and manage the risk of COVID-19 and protect workers and customers.”

Watch: How will England's three-tier local lockdown system work?

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