The ghost of Christmas past: coronavirus restrictions return to haunt events
Early year race entrants advised to check their in-boxes for updates on forthcoming events
While not the total lockdown many of us feared would come over Christmas, the measures announced by the Scottish government on Tuesday to curb the spread of coronavirus over the festive season may still feel like a lump of coal in our stockings.
New restrictions on gatherings, socialising and hospitality will be in force from at least Sunday, 26 December until Sunday 16 January inclusive.
First, the good news: club training in both indoor and outdoor environments will still be permitted during this period, as long as appropriate protocols are followed.
Now for the bad news: outdoor events, including races, will be limited to 500 participants or spectators, not including coaches and officials. Indoor events will be further limited to 200.
For runners who cross train at close quarters, indoor contact sport will also not be permitted during the three weeks of restrictions.
Commenting on the changes Wednesday night, scottishathletics Chief Executive Colin Hutchison said: ‘It is extremely frustrating to be talking once again about restrictions being implemented that impact significantly on competitive sport.’
‘However, we do appreciate the wider situation caused by the Omicron variant and are working with colleagues in Scottish Government and sportscotland to ensure scottishathletics can provide competition for our membership during this period.'
While the restrictions come at what is undoubtedly a quieter time of year for major events, some competitions – including the popular Inter-District XC on 15 January – may be affected.
For a few weeks after Boxing Day, runners must also be prepared for organisers of races under the participation threshold to make major changes to or even cancel their events out of wider public concern – or lack of volunteers able to assist on the day.
Hutchison added: ‘Unfortunately, not all scheduled events will be able to go ahead in their (currently) planned format, but [scottishathletics] are working hard to find the best solutions possible within the restrictions placed on sport.’
To end on a brighter note, more and more information is beginning to be published suggesting that the Omicron variant is leading to significantly reduced risk of hospitalisation so we'll all keep our fingers crossed that these are the last of these controversial restrictions and we can all get on with our running lives in 2022.