Police Scotland has reminded Nicola Sturgeon of “the importance of wearing a face covering” after footage showed her apparently breaching Scotland’s Covid face mask law on the council election campaign trail.
Officers said they have spoken with the First Minister and are satisfied that no further action is necessary.
A video posted on social media appeared to show Scotland’s First Minister not wearing a mask during a visit to a barber’s in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, on Saturday.
Face masks are no longer compulsory on public transport and indoor spaces in Scotland after coronavirus restrictions eased further on Easter Monday.
Prior to that, there was a legal requirement to wear a face covering in most indoor public places, including shops, public transport and hairdressers.
In a statement issued on Monday, Sturgeon said: “On Saturday, while campaigning outdoors in East Kilbride I was invited into a local barber shop. After a few seconds of being in the shop, I realised I had forgotten to put my face covering back on. I then immediately put it on.
“However, I accept that not wearing a face covering even for a few seconds was an error on my part and I am sorry for that.
“I explained that the error was inadvertent and the police have confirmed that the matter is closed”Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister
“Having received complaints about the matter, Police Scotland made contact with me. This is what they would have done with anyone else in these circumstances, and they were absolutely right to treat me no differently to any other citizen.
“I explained that the error was inadvertent and the police have confirmed that the matter is closed.”
The First Minister added: “While the law no longer requires face coverings to be worn, I will continue to do so in circumstances where this can help reduce the risk of infection, and I encourage everyone to do likewise.”
Footage emerged on Saturday appearing to show Sturgeon without a face covering as she mingled with customers and patted the head of a man in a barber’s chair while mimicking the sound of an electric razor.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf defended the First Minister and suggested that people were trying to make “political capital” out of the incident.
He hit out at the Conservatives as he pointed to the fines issued to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak for breaking lockdown rules at No 10 and across Whitehall.
“The First Minister did, I imagine, what many of us have done before. There was a momentary lapse. I think we’ve all done it, I’ve done it,” said Yousaf.
“Where you are in a place where you should be wearing a face covering and you suddenly realise you haven’t got one on and you quickly fiddle around in your pockets and you find one and stick it on and that’s really the end of the matter.
“The First Minister did the same and she will always be the first to put her hands up and say look, ‘I realise here, a mistake was made’, but upon realising that mistake was made, she quickly rectified it.”
The Scottish Government has urged Scots to keep wearing face masks despite it no longer being a legal requirement as Covid-19 continues to spread through the country.
The lifting of the remaining laws had been delayed twice before by amid record levels of Covid cases and high numbers of people in hospital with the virus.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Local officers have spoken to the First Minister to remind her of the importance of wearing a face covering when there is a legal requirement to do so.
“Given the circumstances of this incident, Police Scotland is satisfied that no further action is necessary. This is in line with our proportionate approach throughout the pandemic.”