Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to apologise after she breached coronavirus rules by taking her face mask off at a funeral wake.
A photograph published in the Scottish Sun showed the First Minister chatting to three women in a bar – standing at a distance, but without wearing a mask.
Under the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 rules, customers in hospitality venues must wear a face covering except when seated and must wear one when moving around. Sturgeon was attending a funeral wake for a Scottish Government civil servant.
She 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. I was in the wrong, I’m kicking myself, and I’m sorry.”
The Scottish Sun reported that 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 14 September in Scotland, face coverings for customers and staff are mandatory when entering, exiting and moving around hospitality venues.
The rules state: “There is an exemption for when customers are seated for the service of food and drink and for back of house roles such as kitchen staff or staff who are behind protective screens separating them from customers.”
Those who breach the face covering rules can face a £60 fine. 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: “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. It’s so easily done, we live in a completely different world from a year ago, don’t we?”
He said 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.”