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12.30pm update

Sturgeon caught breaking Covid rules in pub

Unmasked: the First Minister has been forced to apologise

Nicola Sturgeon today pledged “not to drop my guard again” after being forced to apologise for not wearing a mask in a clear breach of her own Covid rules.

Scotland’s First Minister was seen talking to three women at a wake last week in Edinburgh.

The SNP leader was at the Stable Bar and Restaurant following a funeral of a senior Scottish Government civil servant at nearby Mortonhall Crematorium.

She is seen in a photograph to be socially distancing from a table of pensioners, but she is standing and not wearing a mask.

Her rules dictate that customers in hospitality settings must wear a face covering unless seated at a table.

The Sun’s front page showing FM without mask

After her behaviour was revealed she issued a statement to the Scottish Sun saying: “Last Friday, while attending a funeral wake, I had my mask off briefly. This was a stupid mistake and I’m really sorry,

“I talk every day about the importance of masks, so I’m not going to offer any excuses. I was in the wrong, I’m kicking myself and I’m sorry.”

Someone who was at the funeral told the newspaper that they were surprised at seeing Mrs Sturgeon, who has repeatedly stressed the importance of masks, not covering up.

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

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“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.”

Speaking in the Scottish parliament at lunchtime today, Ms Sturgeon said: “I want to say how sorry I am for my breach of the rules.

“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 really do matter.

“I am kicking myself very hard, possibly harder than my worst critic ever could, but more importantly I will be making sure I do not drop my guard again.”

Anyone breaching face mask rules could face a fine of £60, with penalties for repeat offences doubling all the way up to £960.

Rule-breakers can also be prosecuted and could potentially face unlimited fines.  

The law states: “A person who commits an offence under this regulation is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.”

Face masks became mandatory in hospitality settings in Scotland in September, being set down in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.  

Schedule 7 of the law explains a “requirement to wear face coverings in certain indoor places’, which includes pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants.

“A person is exempt, however, and doesn’t need to wear a mask if they are ‘in a restaurant, cafe, bar or public house and seated at a table.” 

Mainland Scotland will be placed into Level 4 on Boxing Day, with the islands moving to Level 3.

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Addressing the situation in the Scottish parliament on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said that as more information on the new strain emerges consideration will be given on whether the top level – Level 4 – needs to be strengthened.

She said: ‘It seems that we are facing a virus that spreads much faster now than in March, so we need to consider whether the current Level 4 restrictions will be sufficient to suppress it.’

The latest changes mean homeware shops and garden centres are restricted to click and collect opening.

Plans to resume in-class teaching for all pupils on 18 January will be kept under review.



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