Police warn chief medical officer after two visits to Fife holiday home during travel ban

Scotland's chief medical officer has been warned by police after twice visiting her second home in Fife, despite strict rules banning non-essential travel.

Dr Catherine Calderwood travelled 44 miles from her home in Edinburgh to visit the property in Earlsferry.

In a televised briefing this afternoon, the medic admitted the first trip happened with her husband last weekend, and she was then joined by family members there this weekend.

Dr Calderwood has been the face of Scottish Government advertising campaigns urging people to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

She has also appeared at daily briefings since the crisis began to repeat the same message.

It comes just weeks after the government told people who had flocked to areas like the Highlands in motorhomes and caravans to stay away, as these rural areas often have less capacity in their health facilities to deal with an outbreak of Covid-19.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Earlier today, local officers visited Dr Catherine Calderwood and spoke to her about her action, reiterated crucial advice and issued a warning about her future conduct, all of which she accepted.

“The legal instructions on not leaving your home without a reasonable excuse apply to everyone.

“Social distancing is the key intervention to curtail the spread of coronavirus and it is essential the instructions are followed to protect each other, support key workers, take strain from the NHS and save lives.

“Individuals must not make personal exemptions bespoke to their own circumstances.

“It is vital that everyone adheres to these requirements.

“Police officers and staff are putting themselves in harm’s way day and night to explain these instructions to our communities, encourage co-operation and, where necessary, enforce them.

“I want to thank the overwhelming majority of people across the country who are doing their duty during this public health emergency.

“Our fellow citizens are observing the guidance and making significant sacrifices and changes to their lifestyles and daily routines.

“I am grateful for their continued support and co-operation during this critical period.”

North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain has previously called for people not to visit second homes in the region, or to visit with mobile homes.

She spoke to us earlier:

In the briefing Dr Calderwoos said: “I did not follow the advice I am giving to others. I’m truly sorry for that.

“I’ve seen a lot of the comments from members of the public on Twitter today. People calling me a hypocrite. People telling me about the hardships they have endured while following my guidance.”

She said that “people have told me I am irresponsible, that I have behaved as if my advice does not apply to me. I want people to know I have seen all of that”.

“What I did was wrong. I’m very sorry. It will not happen again.”

In a statement released earlier she added: "While there are reasons for what I did, they do not justify it and they were not legitimate reasons to be out of my home.

"While I and my family followed the guidance on social distancing at all times, I understand that I did not follow the advice I am giving to others, and I am truly sorry for that.

"I know how important this advice is and I do not want my mistake to distract from that. I have a job to do as chief medical officer to provide advice to ministers on the path of this virus and to support the medical profession as they work night and day to save lives, and having spoken with the first minister this morning I will continue to focus entirely on that job."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Since the start of this epidemic, the CMO has been working seven days a week preparing Scotland’s response.

"She took the opportunity this weekend to check on a family home in Fife as she knows she will not be back again until the crisis is over. She stayed overnight before returning to Edinburgh.

"In line with guidance, she stayed within her own household group and observed social distancing with anyone she was in passing in the village."

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