One of the Scottish Government’s chief medical advisers has said he is worried by images showing crowds of drinkers “spilling out into the street” in England.
National clinical director Professor Jason Leitch admitted he was “worried” by the images, after bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen to the public south of the border.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants can reopen outdoor areas in Scotland last week, for the first time since March – with some concern more social interaction could lead to a “second spike” in Covid-19 cases.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that going for a drink should “not feel the same” as it did before lockdown.
Those visiting bars will have to leave their contact details with staff, with two-metre distancing to be observed initially. While pubs reopened indoor areas in England on Saturday, those in Scotland will not be allowed to reopen indoors until July 15 this Wednesday.
One picture from the Soho area of London showed streets packed with revellers with no visible social distancing.
Prof Leitch said “I am uncomfortable with hospitality just spilling out into the street with people drinking and socialising.”
Towards the end of June there was a four-day period where no confirmed coronavirus deaths were recorded in Scotland, and the numbers have remained in single figures since.
Commenting on the scenes south of the border, Prof Leitch said: “They worried me, and you would expect that to be true, just as pictures of Bournemouth beach worried me as that bit of the puzzle got opened up again.”
Pictures from the Dorset seaside town showed thousands of people had flocked there following an easing of lockdown restrictions, prompting the local council and police force to declare a major incident in the area on June 25.
Asked if social distancing will be policed in Scotland when the weekend comes, Prof Leitch said: “I hope so. I hope a combination of business owners, the security that these businesses often employ, and enforcement from Police Scotland will be enough to help us manage that, as well as peer group policing.”
He added: “What we’re trying to do here is open up the economy … but we have to do it in a way that gives us a reward in the end.
“You’ve seen that – even today – a pretty dramatic lockdown in Australia with them closing borders between states, and I’m trying to do everything I can in my advice to stop that.”
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