Friends beat lockdown rules with cup of tea either side of council border

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·2-min read
Tim Porteus and his friend Sheila who decided to meet for a tea and a catch up on the border of Edinburgh and East Lothian as the two canÕt cross council areas due to Covid restrictions. Nov 23 2020 . See SWNS story SWSCtea. These pictures show two friends forced apart by the coronavirus pandemic meeting for a cuppa - on either side of a council border. Tim Porteus, 58, and Sheila McWhirter, 57, had to come up with an innovative way of seeing each other. Restrictions on moving between council areas meant the old friends could not meet for a brew. They both lived in council areas which are in Tier 3 of the Scottish Government's restrictions - banning movement into other areas.
Tim Porteus, 58, and Sheila McWhirter, 57, managed to meet for a cup of tea without breaking lockdown rules

Two friends managed to enjoy a cup of tea together despite Scotland's strict lockdown travelling rules - by sitting either side of a council border.

Tim Porteus, 58, and Sheila McWhirter, 57, came up with the innovative way to spend time together after coronavirus lockdown measures prevented them from meeting for a brew.

The pair live in different council areas that are both in the highest level of the Sottish Government’s restrictions, which differ from the UK’s lockdown system.

Porteus, who works as a storyteller, lives in Prestonpans, East Lothian, while McWhirter, a singer, lives in Portobello, Edinburgh.

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But the Tier 3 measures in both regions include a ban in movement from one council area to another.

So to have a catch-up without breaking the rules, Porteus and McWhirter met at the council border.

Porteus, who has known McWhirter for 30 years, brought a flask of tea and some folding wooden chairs, and they sat four metres apart beneath the council boundary signs.

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Dad-of-five Porteus said: "I came up with the idea on the spur of the moment.

"It was freezing, we were looking at the restrictions and saying we weren't supposed to cross council boundaries.

Tim Porteus and his friend Sheila who decided to meet for a tea and a catch up on the border of Edinburgh and East Lothian as the two can’t cross council areas due to Covid restrictions. Nov 23 2020 . See SWNS story SWSCtea. These pictures show two friends forced apart by the coronavirus pandemic meeting for a cuppa - on either side of a council border. Tim Porteus, 58, and Sheila McWhirter, 57, had to come up with an innovative way of seeing each other. Restrictions on moving between council areas meant the old friends could not meet for a brew. They both lived in council areas which are in Tier 3 of the Scottish Government's restrictions - banning movement into other areas.
Tim Porteus said people were waving or honking their cars as they went past.

"We have both been struggling a bit with the lockdown, and we've known each other since the late 80s.

"We always have a laugh and we understand where each other is coming from. Sometimes being behind a screen reinforces the feeling of separation.”

Porteus said he came up with the idea to meet at the border and his wife dropped him off.

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He said that McWhirter had not expected him to bring chairs and she burst out laughing when he set up “the cafe”.

Porteus added: ”It was cold but we had the tea. People were honking their horns and waving.

“It was really good fun, it seemed a bit of a mental thing to do. We have always had a creative connection.”

Tim Porteus and his friend Sheila who decided to meet for a tea and a catch up on the border of Edinburgh and East Lothian as the two canÕt cross council areas due to Covid restrictions. Nov 23 2020 . See SWNS story SWSCtea. These pictures show two friends forced apart by the coronavirus pandemic meeting for a cuppa - on either side of a council border. Tim Porteus, 58, and Sheila McWhirter, 57, had to come up with an innovative way of seeing each other. Restrictions on moving between council areas meant the old friends could not meet for a brew. They both lived in council areas which are in Tier 3 of the Scottish Government's restrictions - banning movement into other areas.
Tim Porteus, 58, and Sheila McWhirter, 57, had to come up with an innovative way of seeing each other.

Porteus said they knew they were not breaking any rules, describing their meeting as “a friendship bubble”.

"We had a really big laugh about it. It was a bit like we were in a cafe,” he said,

It came just before East Lothian’s lockdown was eased, with restrictions moving into Tier 2 on Monday so Porteus will now be able to cross the border without breaching the rules.

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