SCOTLAND’S chief nursing officer has warned that groups of young people ignoring social distancing rules risk harming loved ones and leading to the “sacrifices many people have made” being in vain. 

Professor Fiona McQueen, chief nursing officer of Scotland, has stressed that “there’s a lot of people who are not appreciating that the lifting of the lockdown is partial” and are not following the rules put in place to prevent the infection rate of Covid-19 spiraling out of control. 

Since Friday Scots are able to meet up with people from one other households, provided they remain outdoors and stay two metres apart. Garden centres can re-open and businesses are encouraged to provide take-away services. 

But reports on social media showed large groups meeting up, without adhering to social distancing rules, put in place to stop people transmitting the virus to one-another. 

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Professor McQueen pointed to reports of groups enjoying barbecues and gatherings without keeping to the rules over the weekend. 

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She said: “Our staff in the NHS are making huge sacrifices, so they weren’t out socialising at the weekend – they were working and they were caring for patients. But, of course, the joy that we are seeing grandparents see grandchildren for the first time is quite wonderful and being able to mix. 

“One of my relatives emailed me and said one of my neighbours a few doors down had a barbecue, nine people, four different households, no social distancing, kids sitting on grannies’ knees and going in and out of the house. 

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“Certainly, looking at some social media postings, and from what I’ve seen, it looks to me as though there’s a lot of people who are not appreciating that the lifting of the lockdown is partial – it's slow, it’s gentle. The reason we are doing this is sometimes to protect yourself if you are older or more vulnerable – but actually it’s to protect other people in society.” 

Professor McQueen said that although it was welcome news that some were now able to see friends and family members for the first time in weeks, she wants the public to remain “cautious” and called on people to “consider making sure they are looking after other people by following the rules”.

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She added: “It’s about being considerate to other people in society and making sure that we don’t have to roll back.  

“The difficulty with this virus or with any infectious disease, but particularly this virus, is that for a lot of people it is like a flu or even like a common cold – particularly younger people, it perhaps doesn’t affect them as much.  

“When I see nine or 10 young people not socially distancing, standing together, what they are not remembering is that they are harming other people by allowing the virus to transmit, to infect other people and that ultimately can lead to people in our intensive care units and death.  

“What I would urge people to do is follow the rules, look at how far we’ve come, look at the sacrifices many, many people have made, whether it’s in our workforce or people who’ve had to stay at home – and please, please, please don’t let that be lost.”