‘Don’t meet for coffee’ as takeaway crackdown considered

Scottish ministers are meeting to look at tightening restrictions on takeaways and construction.

‘Don’t meet for coffee’ as takeaway crackdown considered Getty Images
New rules could clampdown on takeaway services in Scotland.

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.

Later, at her daily briefing, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hinted that no decision was reached at the meeting.

She is due to update the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, where any decision is expected to be announced.

She said: “As I indicated yesterday, one of the things we discussed was whether there are any areas – takeaway, click-and-collect services being two examples – where we think there is a need to further tighten restrictions to reduce occasions and reasons for people to be out of their homes at the moment.

“We are continuing to consider these options a little bit further and I can tell you I will update parliament tomorrow on any decisions that we reach over the course of the day.”

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.”

He went on to say 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.”