Celtic was shaken by the news 13 players and three members of their coaching staff were forced to isolate themselves after their controversial trip to Dubai the day they are scheduled to play Hibernian.
Celtic spent six days in the United Arab Emirates where pictures surfaced showing members of the team not distancing themselves or wearing face covers, and after being tested on their return to Glasgow, defenseman Christopher Jullien had a positive case that is currently is injured for the next four months. Manager Neil Lennon and assistant John Kennedy are among those who are now isolating.
The first Scottish minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who had questioned whether Celtic followed the rules of social distancing, said on Monday: “Top sport has privileges and those privileges cannot be abused. I hope Celtic is seriously reflecting. & # 39;
Celtic insist that the game against Hibs resume on Monday, but the news surfaced the day football was halted under the top two divisions across Scotland in an attempt to curb the ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases.
Celtic confirmed on Sunday that a player tested positive for Covid-19 after his trip to Dubai
Defense attorney Christopher Jullien, currently injured, has tested positive for coronavirus
The Scottish Masters visited the Middle East as part of a warm weather training camp
The Scottish champion said in a statement on Monday: "While all the other members of the team and the backroom team tested negative, we were informed by authorities that Celtic manager Neil Lennon, assistant, was classified as 'close contacts' John Kennedy and 13 first team players are required to self-isolate as a precaution according to applicable regulations. & # 39;
But the club tried in its statement to distance the positive case with its trip to Dubai.
& # 39; We are of course very disappointed as we know our supporters will be. The contacts were identified on Wednesday last week, mainly in connection with air and team bus travel. During this time, Celtic applied the same strict protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and all national match arrangements in Scotland.
& # 39; These protocols have served us well in the past as the association has not yet had a positive case in our own & # 39; Bladder & # 39; had. As mentioned earlier, Celtic's decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was for performance reasons.
"The reality is that if the team had stayed in Scotland, one case could have happened, as other cases in Scottish football and all of British sport have done over the past week."
Celtic had already received criticism of their warm weather training camp, and Sturgeon wondered if they were following the social distancing rules after photos appeared on social media.
The pictures showed members of the Celtic squad who did not distance themselves or wore face coverings.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon is one of three trainers who have to isolate themselves
Lennon pictured Celtic returning to Glasgow on Friday after their trip to Dubai
Deputy Manager John Kennedy said Saturday that Celtic was guilty of "minor slip-ups" for failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols on his training trip.
"You probably get a snapshot of a picture or two that might have been made by locals … it paints a picture that is probably a little bit wrong," Kennedy said.
“We have done a lot of work all week to make sure everything is ready for us. In terms of the Dubai protocol, the hotel worked very hard with us to give us our own spaces – we had our own tower, our own restaurants, our own meeting groups.
“We pretty much have our own entrance and exit. At no point did we go into the main part of the building. Before we went there, we took advice.
“There were slip-ups, smaller things that you can criticize and jump on when you get a snapshot. We talk to the players as much as possible about the protocols they have to adhere to. We want to obey all the rules and if there is a mistake we try to eradicate it. & # 39;
Nicola Sturgeon questioned the trip after pictures of staff and players drinking
Celtic assistant John Kennedy admitted that there had been "slip-ups" during the team in Dubai
The SPFL banned football under the top two levels of Scotland for three weeks starting Monday.
The Scottish Premier League is exempt from suspension provided it continues to adhere to rigorous testing protocols and the championship can continue as long as it begins with weekly PCR testing.
Rod Petrie, President of the Scottish Federation said: & # 39; The Scottish Federation is aware of the efforts of all clubs to adhere to the strict protocols that depended on elite football being given an exemption for the continuation of the pandemic.
& # 39; Even so, continuing to play football at all levels as President, my fellow board members and the Joint Response Group has put more and more stress on me as we've watched the new strain of the virus spread rapidly.
"While the national sport has been granted the privilege of an exemption for top athletes, the risk of mass transportation of untested, largely part-time players cannot be sustained, as the number of cases continues to increase and the available hospital beds become increasingly scarce."
& # 39; After talks with the SPFL, the Premiership and Championship will continue, provided that both adhere to the existing test regime.
& # 39; The vast majority of teams in these divisions are full-time professional clubs, so the risk of a transfer remains manageable.
& # 39; The impact on lower division club costs was a factor, but so was the realization that many – with a few notable exceptions – are made up of part-time players who are either unable to work or have to work due to the virus.
"In both cases, given the evolving nationwide spread of the virus, the risk is currently too great."