Portobello beach: John Swinney brands Edinburgh sunbather photos 'concerning'

Hundreds of people were pictured at the beach on Wednesday

Thursday, 21st May 2020, 12:05 pm
People flocked to Portobello Beach yesterday despite the two metre social distancing rule

Pictures of hundreds of people sunbathing and swimming at Portobello beach have been described as “concerning” by the Deputy First Minister.

John Swinney MSP was responding to the photographs taken on the hottest day of the year so far for Edinburgh on BBC Radio Scotland this morning.

Yesterday we reported on how police officers were sent in to patrol the area as people descended on the beach.

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Police in masks patrol Portobello Beach yesterday afternoon and stop to speak to people on the the beach and promenade

Refusing to condemn the actions of those involved, Mr Swinney said the pictures did not “exactly demonstrate” people following the official Scottish Government guidance.

He said: “The congestion of people illustrated just the dangers that we face here, that so many people in close proximity doesn’t exactly demonstrate following guidance that has been set out before.

“I have to say however that in so many other respects the public have been following the guidance and following the guidance assiduously which is why we have seen the progress that’s been made in reducing the effect of coronavirus within our society and getting us into a position of where we can begin to consider the lockdown.

“The message of these scenes from Portobello yesterday is that people must continue to observe the requirements of physical distancing and of hand hygiene and of cough hygiene which are critical to enabling us to keep coronavirus under control.”

Police in masks patrol Portobello Beach yesterday afternoon and stop to speak to people on the the beach and promenade

“Although the scenes from Portobello beach yesterday are concerning, there have been weeks and weeks and weeks at which people have really played their part in trying to tackle Covid.”

Mr Swinney also confirmed the Scottish Government would keep the ‘Stay at Home' messaging rather than adopting the UK Government’s ‘Stay Alert’ message.

He said: “The ‘Stay at Home’ message will stay. That is fundamentally the advice that we are giving to people and will be giving to people.

“Yes there will be some relaxation of lockdown, and we have already relaxed the lockdown to some extent already because people are able to exercise more from their home than was the case in the past, but fundamentally, although we are seeing the reduction in effect of coronavirus, we have not seen it eliminated yet and we must all continue to play our part in trying to eliminate coronavirus in our society.”