Scotland’s national clinical director says Nicola Sturgeon is “furious with herself” for breaching coronavirus rules.
Jason Leitch said the First Minister had a “little lapse” when she didn’t put her mask back on before speaking to three women as she left a funeral wake in Edinburgh.
A photograph published in the Scottish Sun showed Sturgeon chatting to the three women in a bar – standing at a distance but without wearing a mask.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Leitch said: “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.”
Under coronavirus regulations introduced on September 14 in Scotland, face coverings for customers and staff are mandatory when entering, exiting and moving around hospitality venues.
Sturgeon was attending a funeral wake for a Scottish Government civil servant when the photograph was taken.
The Scottish Sun reported that she was at the Stable Bar and Restaurant after attending a funeral at the nearby Mortonhall Crematorium.
The First Minister has apologised for breaching the Covid guidelines put in place by her own government.
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 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.
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.— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) December 22, 2020
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.”
But opposition parties have criticised the First Minister over the breach.
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.”