Labour MSP Monica Lennon has called for the mass gathering ban to come into play BEFORE Sunday's Rangers vs Celtic clash at Ibrox.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed plans from the Scottish and UK government to cancel all gatherings that would see more than 500 people in attendance at the one time.

With the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to spread, football matches and live gigs and performances are likely to be delayed, postponed or cancelled entirely as of next week. "We are seeking to manage it in a way that delays the spread, reduces the peak impact, which is important for our NHS, and crucially, to take action that will, as best we can, protect those who are most susceptible to developing serious illness," Sturgeon said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Rangers vs Celtic 'could be played behind closed doors' along with SPFL fixtures

"Mass gatherings require to be policed, to have mass ambulance cover, and at a time when we need to be reducing the pressures on these frontline workers in order to free them up for the challenge ahead, I do think it is inappropriate that we continue as normal.

"The Health Secretary and I have decided this morning that we are minded that we will advise the cancellation, from the start of next week, of mass gatherings of 500 people or more. Our emergency services are likely to suffer from higher than normal sickness absence rates in the weeks and months ahead and our NHS in particular will be under significant pressure. 

"It's important we protect that resilience as much as possible."

READ MORE: Rangers vs Celtic to go ahead in front of capacity Ibrox crowd despite coronavirus outbreak

Now Ms Lennon - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport - has urged Sturgeon to reconsider the decision to delay the cancellation as more than 50,000 Rangers and Celtic fans will be within Ibrox Stadium this weekend.

"Coronavirus is now a global pandemic, and we should be erring on the side of caution," Ms Lennon told Glasgow Times. "Cases of the virus will increase significantly, so swift and decisive action is needed to delay its spread.

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"Disruption to major events, including football, will be disappointing to fans but responding to the coronavirus pandemic must take priority. I agree with the First Minister that our emergency services should be relieved from staffing large events, like the Old Firm game, and on that basis common sense should prevail this weekend."

We told earlier how Scotland vs Israel is in serious doubt following Ms Sturgeon's announcement. The game, set for March 26, is a sellout meaning more than 50,000 fans would be at the match.