Jason Leitch defends Wembley travel advice despite Covid cases surge

SCOTLAND’S national clinical director has insisted the message could not have been stronger for football fans not to travel to London for Scotland’s game with England –despite almost 400 positive Covid cases who attended the Wembley fixture.

Data from Public Health Scotland published on Wednesday showed there were almost 2,000 people who attended a Euro 2020-related event while infected with the virus.

Nearly two-thirds of cases – or 1,294 people – reported travelling to London for a Euro 2020-related event and includes 397 people who attended Scotland’s clash with England at Wembley on June 18.

Professor Jason Leitch has defended his advice before the Wembley clash for people not to travel to London “unless you have a ticket or somewhere safe to watch the game”.

READ MORE: Covid: Scotland football fans linked to nearly 2000 virus cases

The clinical director and the First Minister have moved to highlight that football fans alone are not driving the surge in daily cases confirmed in Scotland.

The First Minister said: “People were asked not to go to London if they didn’t have a ticket for the match. We do our best, we make judgements based on what we think the state of play is and how we think we can best manage this.

“Literally, almost after everything that happens, I agonise over whether we should have done (things) differently or done more and that will always be the case.

“We really think very deeply about this and we think afterwards so we can try and correct things if we think there’s a need to do that in future. That will continue to be the case.”

Ms Sturgeon said the Euro 2020 tag in Public Health Scotland data was evident in the peak at the start of last week and again earlier this week.

She added: “There’s a danger that if everybody assumes that what we are seeing right now is just related to football that if you’re not watching the football or you haven’t been watching the football you will think these messages don’t apply to you.

“Conversely, it will sound to people who are watching the football that we are trying to blame them for that. Neither of these things is true.

“Around 2,000 in one form or another association with football – but there was more than 30,000 cases over that same period.”

Professor Leitch said the Euro 2020 tag in Covid data “has begun to tail off”.

He added: “I’m not sure we could have said much more to people. We were very, very clear in constant radio and TV interviews ‘don’t travel unless you have a ticket’.

“People chose to ignore that and now we can see the consequences of that – but let’s keep that in perspective.

“Football is not the only problem here. The problem is generalised heavy transmission so all of us, football fans or not, have to follow the rules.”

READ MORE: Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon confident Scotland will still move to level 0

When challenged about advice issued that people should not travel to London for the match without somewhere safe to watch it, Ms Sturgeon said “in a situation like this, you try to give people layers of advice”.

She stressed the advice was “don’t go unless you’ve got a ticket” and “if you are going to ignore that and go, try to do it safely”.

The First Minister added: “I wish we hadn’t had as many people travel to London but we did and we are where we are.

“We reflect on that and we think about in future, can we do things better.”

Professor Leitch insisted he “wasn’t trying to either cast the blame to others, avoid the blame myself or change my story”.

He added: “I was using shorthand to say we told people not to travel. It was ‘don’t travel unless you have a ticket or somewhere safe to watch the game’. That was what we said and that was the right advice.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992