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Rangers and Celtic fans told to stay at home for derby

Scotland’s government is urging Rangers and Celtics fans not to try to get round coronavirus restrictions and head to England to watch this weekend’s Old Firm clash.

The Glasgow rivals play each other on Saturday but grounds are not allowing supporters, pubs are closed in the city and the match is not free-to-air on television.

Fans have been booking out pubs and bars over the border in the seaside resort of Blackpool, in northwest England, which is a popular destination for many Scots.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland’s contact tracing system had identified and got in touch with 94 people who tested positive after visiting Blackpool in the past week.

“If you were thinking about going to Blackpool and haven’t booked yet then please do not go this year,” she told a government briefing.

“Even more specifically, because we know this is an issue and I want to be very clear about this, do not travel to Blackpool this weekend to watch the Old Firm match in a pub,” she added.

Management at one of Blackpool’s most popular pubs have decided not to open this weekend because of the flood in Scottish bookings.

“We have the First Minister of Scotland advising everyone not to travel to Blackpool which has led to another barrage of messages of people planning to do the exact opposite of what she has said,” The Gallant Pioneer said on its Facebook page.

“I am not exaggerating when I say we have had requests for over 1,500 people for our wee pub since last week.”

Police in northwest England also revealed they will be out in force this weekend to try to stop Scots popping over the border for a pint and the match.

“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,” Cumbria police Superintendent Matt Kennerley said.

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

Scotland’s Covid-19 death toll currently stands at 2,585 while 44,036 positive cases have been recorded since the start of the outbreak.

Pubs and other licensed premises across swathes of central Scotland, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, were shut for 16 days on October 9 to try to cut rising infection rates.

The public was also advised against non-essential travel.

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