SCOTS have been told to stay at home for Hogmanay amid concerns over hundreds of Airbnb bookings available in Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve.

The leader of Edinburgh City Council has called for all bookings in Airbnb or other short term let or hotel accommodation that do not meet public health rules to be “cancelled immediately”.

Nicola Sturgeon has warned people against partying indoors with other households at Hogmanay and she indicated tighter restrictions could be needed.

The First Minister warned the new strain of Covid-19 meant it was vital Scots "are not visiting other people's houses".

She added: "That is the most important thing of all and, unfortunately, that includes Hogmanay and New Year.

“This year I know we are all desperate to kick 2020 into touch but we must do that safely, and the safest way to do that this year is to be in our own homes with our own households.”

Rules were relaxed on Christmas Day allowing people to meet up with two other households – but travel was banned between Scotland and other parts of the UK.

Initially, the relaxation period was intended to cover five days from December 23 to December 27 but was scaled back amid rising cases and fears over the more transmissible strain of the virus.

In response, mainland Scotland has been placed in level 4 restrictions, the tightest rules available, with island communities put in tier 3.

Despite the warnings, accommodation platform Airbnb has more than 300 bookings available in Edinburgh, famous for its Hogmanay celebrations, on New Year’s Eve.

The company, which prevented hosts from offering bookings during the first lockdown in March, said it was keeping pace with the rest of the accommodation industry – taking into account the many exemptions from rules in level 4 restrictions.

No-one can travel to Edinburgh unless they have a valid reason to do so such as essential work, childcare and medical appointments.

Labour MSP for the Lothians, Sarah Boyack, said: “This is concerning given the major restrictions we are all living under. Only one of the adverts mentions ‘essential travel’ only and some properties are rooms in people’s homes.

“Guidance is clear that 'all holiday accommodation is closed to tourism' and that hotels, B&Bs and self-catering can remain open for essential customers only."

"This New Year will be tough in Edinburgh as we won’t have visitors, and there won’t be cafes, restaurants or tourist attractions to visit."

This year’s Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh are being broadcast virtually, with people urged to stay at home and follow the public health rules.

Leader of Edinburgh City Council, Adam McVey, said: “Our message is clear, while hotels are closed and the capital is under level 4 restrictions, people should not be visiting. Any short term let bookings not connected to essential public health should be cancelled immediately.

“Our Hogmanay celebrations to mark the end of 2020 are specifically designed to avoid crowds, there are no events to attend and we’re encouraging people to enjoy the produced shows from the comfort of their own homes via their TV screens.

“I’m grateful to the people of Edinburgh for sticking to the guidance - we’re seeing numbers increase significantly so it’s hugely important we continue to do so.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: “We are clearly seeing an increase in Covid cases and the level four restrictions and travel ban in Scotland are a necessary attempt to prevent the pandemic becoming completely out of control. The Scottish Greens support a cautious approach led by public health advice.

“It is therefore extremely worrying that short-term let owners are allowed to advertise as normal at this time. Encouraging visitors to Edinburgh when the First Minister is urging everyone to stay in their tight family bubbles and not to travel is irresponsible.”

Some hotels are also still taking bookings in Edinburgh, including for leisure purposes.

People currently attempting to book accommodation on Airbnb anywhere in the UK must confirm during the booking process that they have checked local rules and ensure their stay is permitted.

An Airbnb spokesman said: “Public health is our priority and we remind all hosts and guests to follow the rules and keep people safe at this incredibly challenging time.

“We have introduced new measures that ask guests to confirm they have checked local rules and restrictions before confirming eligibility and making a booking.”