New hospitality blow

Health official calls for delay to Christmas parties

Party time may have to wait

Hospitality businesses were furious after a public health official called for festive celebrations to be delayed to help halt the spread of Omicron.

The call comes amid signs that the Omicron variant is being linked to parties and is more transmissible than earlier strains.

Dr Nick Phin, a director at Public Health Scotland, said:”I would strongly urge people to defer their Christmas parties to another time.”

The message has already prompted a number of cancellations rather than postponements in the run up to the key party season.

One hospitality leader said that within minutes of the announcement businesses were receiving cancellations, leaving Christmas and Hogmanay trade “in tatters”.

It came just after Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said parties could go ahead if people were careful.

There were also questions over what constitutes a Christmas party and whether households would be treated the same as hospitality venues.

In the statement from Public Health Scotland, issued at 5pm, Dr Phin said: “There is much that we still need to learn about Omicron, but early evidence suggests that this new Covid variant is much more transmissible.

“The impact of this transmissibility has been seen in recent weeks, with a number of Omicron outbreaks linked to parties.

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