Nicola Sturgeon apologises after being spotted in a pub without wearing a face mask

Nicola Sturgeon has apologised after being spotted in a pub without wearing a face mask as she tells Scots they face a full lockdown to stop the spread of Covid.

Scotland’s First Minister, who has long preached of how vital it is to wear a face covering in public, was seen without one at a venue in Edinburgh last week.

While seemingly at a distance from the women she was speaking to as she stood in the pub, Scottish rules dictate that a mask must be worn in bar unless seated.

Nicola Sturgeon has apologised for breaking her own coronavirus rules after being spotted in a pub without wearing a face mask

Nicola Sturgeon has apologised for breaking her own coronavirus rules after being spotted in a pub without wearing a face mask

Nicola Sturgeon has apologised for breaking her own coronavirus rules after being spotted in a pub without wearing a face mask

Scotland’s rules on face masks in pubs and bars 

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’. 

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Speaking about the incident, which occurred after a funeral in the capital, she told the Sun: ‘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.’   

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.’  

Ms Sturgeon, who did wear a mask in Scottish Parliament today, said when they became compulsory in shops earlier this summer: ‘Please don’t wait until then, get into the habit now.’

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’. 

Announcing the change in a speech, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘It is now mandatory for customers in those settings to wear face coverings when they are not eating or drinking – for example when you go into the premises and go to your table, or when you stand up to move around to go to the bathroom, for example.’

Meanwhile, the First Minister said on Tuesday that tougher lockdown measures are under consideration after Covid-19 cases rose by 15% in the past fortnight.

She said the new measures announced on Saturday – cutting festive easing to Christmas Day visits only, a travel ban, the Boxing Day increase in levels and a delay in pupils returning to schools – are needed to counter the risk of ‘exponential growth’ of the new, more infectious variant of the virus.

Speaking at a review of restriction levels at the Scottish Parliament, she said this system has ‘until now been effective’, but 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.’

As part of this, plans to resume in-class teaching for all pupils by January 18 will be kept under review.

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

Scotland's First Minister, who has long preached of how vital it is to wear a face covering in public, was seen without one at a venue in Edinburgh last week

Scotland's First Minister, who has long preached of how vital it is to wear a face covering in public, was seen without one at a venue in Edinburgh last week

Scotland’s First Minister, who has long preached of how vital it is to wear a face covering in public, was seen without one at a venue in Edinburgh last week

As she announced 43 deaths of coronavirus patients and 1,316 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the First Minister said when Level 4 comes into force, people should ‘stay at home as much as possible’, with consideration given on whether this should become law.

Further changes to this level include homeware shop and garden centres being restricted to click and collect opening.

Addressing the rising cases, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘After a sustained period of decline, our case numbers are now more volatile and have risen by around 15% in the last couple of weeks.

‘The numbers of people with Covid who are in hospital and ICU have also risen slightly again after a period of quite marked decline.’

She said analysis suggests in the week beginning December 9 around 14% of positive coronavirus cases in Scotland already had a gene linked to the new variant, up from 5% at the end of November – adding it was ‘not unreasonable to assume that the proportion may be higher now’.

The First Minister stressed this is ‘still a significantly lower level than England, where it is thought that the new variant accounts for 36% of cases, and will be even higher in London and the South East’.

Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The very rapid spread in London and the South East serves as a warning of what we will face here if we do not take firm action to suppress the virus.

‘We have a real concern that, without significant counter measures, we could be facing another period of exponential growth as we enter the new year.

‘That would mean many more people catching Covid and, even without this new strain causing more severe illness, that would result in many more people needing hospital and intensive care. That would put an enormous strain on the NHS and lead to much more loss of life.

‘To be blunt, that is what we have to act now to stop.’

Ms Sturgeon, who did wear a mask in Scottish Parliament today, said when they became compulsory in shops earlier this summer: 'Please don't wait until then, get into the habit now'

Ms Sturgeon, who did wear a mask in Scottish Parliament today, said when they became compulsory in shops earlier this summer: 'Please don't wait until then, get into the habit now'

Ms Sturgeon, who did wear a mask in Scottish Parliament today, said when they became compulsory in shops earlier this summer: ‘Please don’t wait until then, get into the habit now’

She added: ‘That is why we announced significant additional measures on Saturday.

‘I know how tough these are, but we believe they are essential to avoid an extremely serious deterioration in the situation as we move into the New Year.’

Giving a further update on the daily coronavirus statistics, Ms Sturgeon said the death toll of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days is now 4,326.

The daily test positivity rate is 7.5%, up from 6% on Monday and the number of people who have tested positive since the start of the pandemic is 114,366.

There are 1,045 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, a fall of 33 in 24 hours. Of these patients, 60 are in intensive care, down by one.

Fury as clerical staff at hospital in Scotland receive Covid jab BEFORE doctors and nurses in move branded ‘a slap in the face to all frontline staff’

Health chiefs gave the new coronavirus vaccine to clerical staff before frontline nurses and doctors at a Scottish hospital, it has been revealed. 

Outraged nurses at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley, western Scotland, have blown the whistle on the coronavirus ‘fiasco’ which was dubbed ‘an absolute slap in the face to all frontline staff’.

They revealed that nurses, anaesthetists and surgeons had not been given the Pfizer jab, while staff in medical records and estates management – who do not deal with patients – had been given the new vaccine first.

Health chiefs at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley, western Scotland, gave the new coronavirus vaccine to clerical staff before frontline nurses and doctors, it has been revealed

Health chiefs at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley, western Scotland, gave the new coronavirus vaccine to clerical staff before frontline nurses and doctors, it has been revealed

Health chiefs at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley, western Scotland, gave the new coronavirus vaccine to clerical staff before frontline nurses and doctors, it has been revealed

A nurse insider said: ‘The events of the last two days have left me and my colleagues outraged. 

‘My nursing colleagues and I came on duty yesterday hoping that the much-awaited vaccinations would start.

‘We were astonished to find out that the management had given covid vaccines to administration and estate staff before frontline nurses and doctors.’

They added that the move went against national guidelines which say that health and social care workers, older care home residents and the over 80s should be the first to be vaccinated.  

‘These guidelines expressly state the frontline staff who have face-to-face contact with patients must be vaccinated as a priority,’ the insider said. 

‘So you can imagine our astonishment when we found out that clerical staff who have no contact with patients have been vaccinated.

‘Medical records staff who work in the basement and never see a patient, never mind have face-to-face contact, or estates staff, who actually work in a separate building, or medical physics staff, who repair equipment, all have been vaccinated.’

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for use by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency (MHRA) earlier this month.

Outraged nurses have blown the whistle on the coronavirus 'fiasco' which was dubbed 'an absolute slap in the face to all frontline staff'. They revealed that nurses, anaesthetists and surgeons had not been given the Pfizer jab

Outraged nurses have blown the whistle on the coronavirus 'fiasco' which was dubbed 'an absolute slap in the face to all frontline staff'. They revealed that nurses, anaesthetists and surgeons had not been given the Pfizer jab

Outraged nurses have blown the whistle on the coronavirus ‘fiasco’ which was dubbed ‘an absolute slap in the face to all frontline staff’. They revealed that nurses, anaesthetists and surgeons had not been given the Pfizer jab

The vaccine is given in two doses three weeks apart and has already been given to around 500,000 Britons.

The RAH nurse spoke out as the number of Covid-19 deaths in Renfrewshire topped 300.

The devastating milestone was reached in the week to December 14 when a further 11 people lost their lives to the virus.

The death toll now stands at 306.

Overall in Scotland, more than 114,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus and there have been just over 4,000 deaths.  

Speaking just weeks after it was revealed that dozens of staff and patients at the RAH had been infected with Covid-19, the whistle blower added: ‘For the last nine months, the nursing staff have been in close contact with covid positive patients, putting our lives on the line everyday.

National guidelines say that health and social care workers, older care home residents and the over 80s should be the first to be vaccinated

National guidelines say that health and social care workers, older care home residents and the over 80s should be the first to be vaccinated

National guidelines say that health and social care workers, older care home residents and the over 80s should be the first to be vaccinated

‘Many nurses have become covid positive and have had to go off sick leaving us short staffed but we have carried on. Patients are our priority.

‘This is an absolute slap in the face to all frontline staff.

‘We have written to senior members of the health board and government but I am afraid that this will just be swept under the carpet.’

The news of the vaccine snub triggered outrage.

Scottish Greens MSP for the West of Scotland Ross Greer said: ‘Any NHS staff likely to come into contact with a covid-positive patient should be prioritised for the vaccine, whether they are clinical staff or not.

‘It is no wonder though that clinical staff, who have put their lives on the line and been repeatedly refused regular testing, are alarmed when they see others who are not working with patients be put ahead of them.

‘The health board and hospital management need to immediately explain exactly why they’ve made this decision and ensure that they are following national guidelines on how the vaccine should be rolled out.’ 

Author Marion Shoard, who has researched the Scottish health and care system for 20 years, said: ‘This situation is outrageous. 

We are still seeing hospital doctors and nurses catching covid at work and dying as a result.

‘At the same time, transmission from frontline healthcare staff could be responsible for some of the thousands of cases in which patients have caught Covid-19 while in hospital.

‘Add to this mounting concern that people are put off turning up at A&E for fear of catching the virus and so missing out on treatment even for serious conditions like a heart attack or stroke, and you see why it’s so important that vaccinating hospital doctors and nurses is of the utmost importance.’

A NHS Greater Glasgow spokesman said: ‘We strictly adhere to national prioritisation guidelines for the vaccine.

‘In line with this guidance and following a risk assessment, any member of staff – clinical or non-clinical – who either directly works on, or is deemed to have contact with a Covid-19 red pathway, can receive the vaccine.

‘The risk assessment also allows for high-risk, BAME and staff over the age of 65 to be vaccinated.

‘This is the arrangement we have used to offer the vaccine across all NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde sites, including the Royal Alexandra Hospital.’ 

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