SUGGESTIONS that mass gatherings could be banned until April have been dampened down by Scotland’s national clinical director after he said the “jury is somewhat out” on whether Edinburgh’s cancelled Hogmanay celebrations could be held in April instead.

Amid the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid variant, the Scottish Government limited events to 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.

This led to a number of major events, including the capital city’s famous New Year party, being called off.

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The measure was put in place for three weeks, but a suggestion from Jason Leitch that restrictions could be in place for longer than that prompted backlash on Sunday.

Speaking to the BBC on the idea of rescheduling the Hogmanay celebrations for the spring, Leitch commented: “I like an Edinburgh night out, like any other person in Scotland. I certainly look forward to next year’s Hogmanay, but whether we could bring that forward to April or not, I think the jury is somewhat out.”

He later criticised a headline suggesting all large public gatherings could be forbidden until the spring, responding on Twitter: "For those responding angrily because of this headline from @thetimesscot please listen to the interview on Radio 4 at 1.10 today and hear what I ACTUALLY said, then maybe be kinder. I was asked if I thought Edinburgh could have Hogmanay in April!!!!”

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to give an update on the current restrictions on January 11, according to the Scottish Parliament’s website.

This date will mark the three-week review of the rules, but Leitch has previously warned that restrictions could change before then.

He commented: “We’ll give the best advice we can but there is an official review, a legal review, every three weeks with those restrictions but that doesn’t mean things can’t go up or down in the middle weeks.”