'I want to cry': Scottish pubgoers spreading virus is 'exactly what we feared', Sturgeon warns

Victoria Bell
·4-min read

Nicola Sturgeon has said pictures of younger people gathering in Scotland without physical distancing over the weekend made her “want to cry”.

On Friday the first minister urged younger Scots to “consider how necessary their nights out are” after a surge in coronavirus cases among people aged between 20 and 40.

She said: “For those activities which we are now allowed to do, like going to pubs indoors, I’d ask you think how necessary these nights out are and how frequently you might want to go on them.”

But it appears many didn’t take heed of her warning: images showed people meeting in packed bars and restaurants over the Scottish bank holiday weekend as Edinburgh basked in 28C heat.

Speaking at her Monday briefing, Sturgeon said: “I've seen pictures on social media over this weekend that... made me want to cry.”

Nicola Sturgeon said that the recent outbreak was “exactly what we feared” when the decision was taken to reopen the hospitality industry. (Scottish Government)
Nicola Sturgeon said a recent outbreak centred around a pub was 'exactly what we feared' when the decision was taken to reopen the hospitality industry. (Scottish Government)

She said a coronavirus cluster linked to a pub in Aberdeen is "exactly what we feared" might happen when Scotland reopened its hospitality industry.

The Hawthorn Bar in Holburn Street in the city centre is now being investigated by public health officials after 13 cases of COVID-19 were linked to customers who visited on 26 July.

Read more: Far more Brits think Sturgeon has handled coronavirus well than Johnson

On Sunday, figures showed 31 new cases of the virus were confirmed in Scotland – the biggest daily increase for eight weeks. On Monday, the total number of new cases rose by 18.

People enjoying the weather on Portobello Beach in Edinburgh.
People enjoying the weather on Portobello Beach in Edinburgh during the weekend. (PA)
Police at Portobello Beach in Edinburgh where they broke up large crowds who flocked to the beach to make the most of the good weather.
Police at Portobello Beach in Edinburgh where they broke up large crowds who flocked to the beach to make the most of the good weather. (PA)

Despite the rise, there were no coronavirus deaths reported, for the 17th consecutive day.

Those who tested positive in the Hawthorne in Aberdeen are only showing mild symptoms, though the health board said there may be further cases linked to the cluster.

Management at the Hawthorn said on its Facebook page they had been given permission to continue trading and that appropriate safety measures were in place.

The statement said the venue had undergone deep cleaning as well as decontamination by fogging.

Phil Adams, the bar’s owner, said he was "absolutely devastated”.

He wrote: “We've put a lot of measures in place and we've worked very hard to ensure all our staff and customers are safe.

“This is a very trying time, not just for me but for everyone involved with the business."

Sturgeon thanked the owners of the Hawthorn and said work was being done to address the cluster.

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Dr Emmanuel Okpo, consultant in public health medicine, said: “Our health protection team are speaking to the confirmed cases, establishing who they have been in contact with and providing further advice on isolation and testing as required.

“We cannot emphasise enough the need for everyone to take all the necessary precautions to keep themselves and others safe.

“This means wearing a face covering when required, practising thorough hand hygiene, maintaining physical distancing, and avoiding crowded places.

31 cases were associated with The Hawthorn Bar in Holburn Street in Aberdeen centre. (Google Maps)
Thirty-one cases were associated with The Hawthorn Bar in Holburn Street in Aberdeen centre. (Google Maps)

Meanwhile, lockdown measures have been tightened in parts of England after a surge of coronavirus cases in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, parts of East Lancashire and Leicester.

From midnight last Thursday, separate households have not been allowed to meet indoors in the aforementioned areas.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said “households gathering and not abiding by the social distancing rules” was a reason for the stricter rules.

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