NICOLA Sturgeon has apologised to Holyrood for breaching her own coronavirus rules by taking off her face mask at a funeral wake.

The First Minister said she was kicking herself "possibly harder than my worst critic ever could". 

A photograph published in the Scottish Sun showed the First Minister chatting to three women in a bar while standing at a distance but without wearing a mask.

HeraldScotland: Camley's Cartoon: FM's mask blunderCamley's Cartoon: FM's mask blunder

Under Scottish Government coronavirus rules, customers in hospitality venues must wear a face covering except when seated and must wear one when moving around.

Ms Sturgeon was attending a funeral wake for a Scottish Government civil servant.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon apologises for breaching Covid rules 

She addressed the issue ahead of First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament.

She said: "Presiding Officer, before I go any further today I want to take this opportunity to say how sorry I am for my breach of rules that I ask all of us to follow every single day.

"I took my face mask off while briefly attending a funeral purvey last week.

"I'm sure everyone will have seen in the media this morning a picture of me without it. 

"I want to be clear today that regardless of the circumstances I was in the wrong. There are no excuses. 

"These rules do apply to me, just as they do to everyone else, and the rules really matter.

"I am kicking myself very hard, possibly harder than my worst critic ever could. 

"But more importantly, I'll be making sure I don't drop my guard again."

The Scottish Sun reported that Ms Sturgeon was at the Stable Bar and Restaurant after attending a funeral at the nearby Mortonhall Crematorium.

Under coronavirus regulations introduced on September 14 in Scotland, face coverings for customers and staff are mandatory when entering, exiting and moving around hospitality venues.

The rules state: "There is an exemption for when customers are seated for the service of food and drink and for back of house roles such as kitchen staff or staff who are behind protective screens separating them from customers."

Those who breach the face covering rules can face a £60 fine.

Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland's national clinical director, told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "I think the First Minister knows this matters, I think she's as furious with herself as some might be with her.

"We had a brief conversation last night and she's absolutely mad at this little lapse in concentration.

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"It's so easily done, we live in a completely different world from a year ago, don't we?"

He said Ms Sturgeon was "just about out the door and was called back".

He added: "Her mask was off because she was leaving, and then (she went) back in and (had) a little lapse - didn't put it back on.

"It just reinforces again to all of us the nature of these instructions and this virus, and she is as mad with herself as everybody else."