Coronavirus in Scotland: No prosecco drinking with neighbours in gardens

Scottish ministers have warned people not to drink in a neighbour’s garden after new Covid regulations came into force banning outdoor alcohol consumption.

MSPs were also told that people should not go out to “mill about” in shops and only leave home for essential reasons.

At Holyrood’s Covid committee on Thursday, Constitution Secretary Mike Russell was asked by Scottish Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton if the drinking ban was “a prohibition on all drinking outdoors ... for example if, as we’re allowed to do, we can meet one other person in their garden, you couldn’t have a glass of wine with that person … how far does the prohibition go?”

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Mr Russell said “socialisation” should not be encouraged and would “strongly counsel against” a “one-to-one party in your garden”.

People should not be drinking prosecco in a neighbour's garden, the Scottish Government has said.People should not be drinking prosecco in a neighbour's garden, the Scottish Government has said.
People should not be drinking prosecco in a neighbour's garden, the Scottish Government has said.

“If you were to have glass of prosecco in your garden, nobody is going to come around and stop you and seize the glass from your hand and dash it to the ground … but the gathering that is the issue,” he said.

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He added: “It [the ban] is specifically to prevent circumstances, which I know have been seen in parts of Edinburgh and elsewhere, where pubs selling alcohol at the door, so to speak, saw people gathering to drink as if in a pub. It's the purpose of it that’s really important, to stop people gathering together.”

National clinical director Jason Leitch said the ban was “very straightforward”.

“It’s illegal to leave your home except for essential reasons, socialising in someone else’s garden is not an essential reason,” he said. “You and your household can drink in your garden, prosecco or otherwise, but you should not be leaving your house to socialise with other people in your garden.”

Mr Russell was also asked whether the government had plans to restrict what supermarkets and other retail outlets could sell to combat too many out shopping.

SNP MSP Willie Coffey said the most common issue raised with him by constituents “is the number of people still gathering at supermarkets and retail parks” and suggested non-essential retail stores were “exploiting” a loophole to remain open “if they sell things regarded as essential such as dog and cat food”.

“A lot of my constituents feel we need to address that to reduce the number of people going to these places,” he said. “Is there anything we can do to assist this? To restrict the products that some of these non-essential outlets can sell?”

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The minister said people should not leave their homes “to mill around a shop” and that “no normal shopping” should be being undertaken.

But Mr Coffey added: “You have to be very careful. If a shop is open, it's open. You saw the difficulty in Wales [where the government tried to restrict what could be sold in supermarkets], but the range of shops is limited and the purpose is to sell items which are essential.

People don't have to do this. I know it's difficult to stay at home, but they don't have to go retail parks and shops. People should be saying don't go unless it's for essential purposes.”

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