NICOLA Sturgeon believes people will be enjoying a drink in beer gardens across Scotland “before too long” - but warned they may remain shut for “a couple of weeks” longer than was hoped.

Yesterday, the First Minister said beer gardens could be “hotspots” for the spread of Covid-19 and therefore will not be allowed to re-open until more investigations into the risk of the disease being transmitted.

The Herald: Camley's Cartoon: Pubs to remain closed.Camley's Cartoon: Pubs to remain closed.

At her daily media briefing, Ms Sturgeon indicated they may remain closed for "a couple of weeks" longer due to emerging evidence about how Covid-19 transmits between people.

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Places like gyms and noisy pubs, and also participation in activities like choir singing, could have a greater risk of infection because people breathe differently, she warned.

She added: "Even outdoors, if you are in a noisy environment, maybe there's music playing. If people are having alcohol, maybe they're shouting more than normal."

Further investigation is ongoing about more "protective steps" which could be taken, she said.

The First Minister added: "I very much hope to see people able to have a pint - or some of us would prefer a glass of wine or a gin and tonic - in a beer garden before too long.

"But I want to make sure that's safe.

"If a couple more weeks before we have the ability to have a drink in a beer garden means we can keep this virus really suppressed at a low level, and maybe get our schools back much closer to normal in August, I think most people would think that is a good balance to try to strike."

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Jason Leitch, Scotland's national clinical director, added that people would meet in a "less controlled way" in beer gardens than they do at permitted family gatherings outdoors.

He said: "I think it will come before indoors.

"But I think we need a little bit more time, a little bit more data and a little bit more advice before we can reassure the First Minister and the Cabinet that we can safely take this step."