One of Scotland’s top medical advisers has said it is “not appropriate” for people to meet for coffee.
Professor Jason Leitch urged Scots not to bend coronavirus rules, as Scottish ministers meet on Tuesday morning to decide on tightening regulations.
The Scottish Government could consider further restrictions on “non-essential” takeaway services and construction, Prof Leitch said.
The news comes amid ongoing confusion across the UK around what can be done in terms of household mixing under the new lockdown regulations, fuelled by a fine given to two women in Derbyshire who went for a walk with a takeaway coffee – with one officer describing it as a “picnic”.
Prof Leitch told BBC Breakfast: “If you’re arranging to meet someone for coffee, that’s not appropriate for where we are in the pandemic.
“That’s not where we are just now. I’m really, really sorry but you should only leave the house for essential reasons.”
The national clinical director also said most people should not be sitting on park benches, but made an exception for older people, using his parents as an example.
“If my parents go out for a walk, they’re 79 and 80, it’s perfectly legitimate for them to have a little rest on the way, because I think it’s really important that they go out,” he said.
“We’re not suggesting the police should fine everybody on park benches, but let’s use our common sense.”
When asked about the park bench example and how it should be policed, Prof Leitch said: “It should hopefully not be policed.”
At the coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, Prof Leitch clarified that going out for a walk and getting a coffee with one other person is not against the rules, as long as measures were adhered to.
“What I was suggesting was, in an illustrative way to try and stop people thinking these restrictions are about increasing social activity – they’re not – they’re about exercise,” he said.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said more people are now looking to bend the rules than the previous lockdown.
She said: “I think now, there’s more of a tendency to think ‘how do we get to the edge of the rules to really maximise what we can do?’
“I totally understand that, and believe me I’m susceptible to that myself, but that’s probably not the way we should be thinking about it.
“We should still be thinking about how we keep, not just within the letter of these rules, but the spirit of these rules.”
Meanwhile, Prof Leitch went on to tell the BBC he believed most people “understand we’re in a pandemic”, but added that the police will enforce the law if they have to.
Prof Leitch also called for a shift in the thinking of some people who seek to bend pandemic rules, saying: “I would much rather people asked: ‘How do I stay within these rules? What is it I can do that would put me and everybody else at the least risk?’”
He added: “Now, that’s not forever. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it?
“I can’t believe we’re on, still talking about staying at home in January – it’s 11 months since I was first on your programme about this pandemic.”
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