The Scottish Government has been urged to correct a mistake in coronavirus legislation which creates a loophole for places of worship.

A 'loophole' in the legislation means places of worship may not be committing an offence if they fail to ensure social distancing.

The drafting error in the regulations for the new five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions was spotted by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee.

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Committee convener Bill Bowman said places of worship in areas placed in either Level 2 or Level 3 would “not in fact be committing an offence” if they fail to ensure the two metre rule is respected.

The committee has now written to Business and Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell asking for the Government to introduce “amending instrument as a matter of urgency”.

The letter ackowledges that "mistakes happen", but implores an immediate correction of the mistake due to the national significance of regulations.

Mr Bowman said: “The committee recognises that, in order to tackle the second wave of this pandemic, it was necessary to introduce more targeted restrictions at a local level while allowing businesses to continue to operate, with appropriate penalties for those who fail to follow the rules.

“However, if this new strategy is to have the desired effect it is vital that the legislation is clear and operates as intended.

He added: “Given the importance of these regulations we were therefore dismayed to have discovered this significant drafting error, one of the effects of which is that those businesses or places of worship in Levels 2 and 3 which fail to ensure two-metre social distancing will not in fact be committing an offence.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It’s essential to reduce transmission of the virus that we all adhere to the current restrictions and do not seek to circumvent the rules, regardless of whether the restrictions are guidance or law.

“We thank the committee for its scrutiny and the issues identified with the legislation will be remedied tomorrow so that enforcement can take place in the unwelcome event that it is required.”