23 December 2020

Nicola Sturgeon: I have no excuses for my virus rules breach

23 December 2020

Nicola Sturgeon has said she has “no excuses” for breaking coronavirus rules, as she apologised in the Scottish Parliament after being photographed in a bar not wearing a face mask.

A picture published in the Scottish Sun shows the First Minister chatting to three women while standing at a distance but without wearing a mask.

Under Scottish Government coronavirus rules, customers in hospitality venues must wear a face covering except when seated, and they must wear one when moving around.

These rules do apply to me just as they do to everyone else and the rules really matter

Ms Sturgeon was in the bar last Friday for a funeral wake for a Scottish Government civil servant.

Speaking at the start of First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Wednesday, she said: “I want to take this opportunity to say how sorry I am for my breach of rules that I ask all of us to follow every single day.

“I took my face mask off while briefly attending a funeral last week, I’m sure everyone will have seen in the media this morning a picture of me without it.

“I want to be clear today that regardless of the circumstances, I was in the wrong. There are no excuses. These rules do apply to me just as they do to everyone else and the rules really matter.

“I am kicking myself very hard, possibly harder than my worst critic ever could, but more importantly I’ll be making sure I don’t drop my guard again.”

She concluded her statement, as normal, with a reminder of the Government’s FACTS guidance on coronavirus.

“With an enormous dose of humility, let me remind you and most importantly myself of FACTS,” she said.

“Use Face coverings, Avoid crowded places, Clean your hands and surfaces regularly, keep Two metres distance from other households and Self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms.”

When the photograph was published on Tuesday night, the SNP leader said she had taken the mask off briefly, adding that it was “a stupid mistake and I’m really sorry”.

The Scottish Sun reported she was at the Stable Bar and Restaurant after attending a funeral at the nearby Mortonhall Crematorium.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “The First Minister should know better.

“By forgetting the rules and failing to set a proper example, she’s undermining essential public health messaging.

“It’s a blunder that an ordinary member of the public wouldn’t get away with. There cannot be one rule for Nicola Sturgeon and another for everyone else.”

Under coronavirus regulations introduced on September 14 in Scotland face coverings for customers and staff are mandatory when entering, exiting and moving around hospitality venues, with breaches attracting a fine up to £60.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf tweeted: “FM has approached pandemic by being upfront from v beginning.

“She has apologised for accidental lapse (which I suspect most of us have had one over last 9 months).

“I’ve known her for 15yrs & she is her harshest critic. I am sure most ppl will understand, accept apology & move on.”

Scotland’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday: “I think the First Minister knows this matters, I think she’s as furious with herself as some might be with her.

“We had a brief conversation last night and she’s absolutely mad at this little lapse in concentration.

SCOTLAND Coronavirus (PA Graphics)

“It’s so easily done, we live in a completely different world from a year ago, don’t we?”

He said Ms Sturgeon was “just about out the door and was called back”.

He added: “Her mask was off because she was leaving, and then (she went) back in and (had) a little lapse – didn’t put it back on.

“It just reinforces again to all of us the nature of these instructions and this virus, and she is as mad with herself as everybody else.”

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