Nicola Sturgeon admits 'stupid mistake' after breaking coronavirus rules

Dan Sanderson
·4-min read

Watch: Nicola Sturgeon apologises for breaching Covid-19 rules

Nicola Sturgeon has apologised and admitted she made a “stupid mistake” after she broke her own coronavirus rules by taking off her face mask at a funeral wake.

Scotland’s First Minister was photographed speaking to three elderly women last week while standing with her face uncovered in an Edinburgh pub.

Under laws passed by Ms Sturgeon’s government, which she has relentlessly urged the Scottish public to follow, customers in hospitality venues must wear masks unless seated at a table.

The photograph, obtained by The Scottish Sun, was published just hours after Ms Sturgeon reminded the public at Holyrood of the importance of wearing face coverings.

In a statement issued last night, Ms Sturgeon said: "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.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - Fraser Bremner - Pool/Getty Images

"I was in the wrong, I'm kicking myself, and I'm sorry."

The picture emerged just a few hours after Ms Sturgeon warned Scots that they may face a return to the full lockdown imposed in March, due to fears over a mutant strain of coronavirus.

A week-long delay to Scottish schools reopening could also be extended, while Ms Sturgeon said she was considering the reimposition of a legal stay at home requirement, similar to the one imposed UK-wide in March.

A strict ban on travel between Scotland and the other UK nations is also in force, with those in England banned from visiting their families for Christmas day.

Reacting to her face mask blunder, a spokesman for the Scottish Tories 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 a normal member of the public wouldn’t get away with. There cannot be one rule for Nicola Sturgeon and another for everyone else.”

Ms Sturgeon’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, was forced to resign in April after it emerged she had broken rules by making repeat trips to her second home.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

While the First Minister’s breach is not as serious, it will still be seen as highly embarrassing for a politician who has appeared on Scottish TV screens on a near-daily basis since March imploring the public to follow her rules.

The law passed by the Scottish Government on face masks in hospitality venues came into force in September. It det­ails a “requirement to wear face coverings in certain indoor places”, including rest­aurants, cafes, bars and pubs.

An exemption says a mask does not need to be worn only if a person is “in a restaurant, cafe, bar or public house and seated at a table”. Ms Sturgeon is seen leaning over a chair and speaking to the three women, while socially distanced.

Hospitality venues throughout mainland Scotland will be forced to close, for at least three weeks, from Boxing Day. However, wakes can still take place.

Earlier yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said that a March-style full lockdown may be imposed north of the border, due to fears that existing rules are not harsh enough to suppress a highly-transmissible strain of Covid-19.

Ms Sturgeon 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 four restrictions will be sufficient to suppress it.

"It took a really strict lockdown earlier in the year to get the R number back below one. We face a situation now where R is around one again and we have a virus transmitting more quickly.

“For those living in level 4 areas - which from Saturday will be the vast majority of us - our strong advice is to stay as local as possible and at home as much as possible. We will be considering in the days ahead whether we need to place that advice in law.”

Watch: Nicola Sturgeon issues warning that Covid-19 restrictions could increase