'Shamed' despite sticking to social distancing rules

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

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The social distancing rules and stay at home messages which aim to stop the spread of coronavirus have changed the way people are living their lives.

Those who ignore the regulations have faced condemnation or even police action, but even those who have been abiding by the rules can find themselves experiencing social distancing shaming.

The government guidance is clear - people should only leave home for a very limited number of reasons.

These include shopping for basic necessities and to take daily exercise, either alone or with members of your household.

However, a number of people say they have found themselves the subject of criticism or abuse while taking part in that daily exercise routine.

George, 68, from Edinburgh, told how he had stopped to speak to a friend - making sure they kept a "large" distance between them - after they happened to meet during his daily walk in The Meadows in Edinburgh.

He said: "Suddenly this woman came up to us shouting that we were too close and produced a measuring tape from her pocket.

"She then began measuring the distance between us."

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He said his 6ft tall friend had even lain down on the ground to help demonstrate that they were even further apart than the recommended distance of two metres (almost 6.6ft).

"I was shocked by her behaviour and reaction," he said.

Jane Hurst said she was shocked when a couple shouted at her child during a walk in Edinburgh.

"My seven-year-old was running one tree ahead of us in Inverleith Park, then jumping out at us and shouting 'boo'.

"A couple walking the other direction called him a 'stupid child' and said he should have been at my side."

Susan Bell, 42, from Morningside, said she had heard people sighing and tutting at her while walking down the road.

"I've also seen others making a big show of disapproval to me by doing an exaggerated jump or body swerve onto the road into oncoming traffic.

"It's too much from some people," she said.

'Carried on shouting'

Lauren Ford said people were jumping to the wrong conclusions when judging other people.

She said she saw two young men receiving a "barrel load of abuse" from an older man when they ran past him on Cramond Beach.

"They calmly explained that they were flatmates and had been together for the past three weeks and hadn't seen anyone else, but the man still carried on shouting.

"He didn't apologise and carried on saying they were still in the wrong. It wasn't fair at all.

"People are judging so fast, its unreal."

Some people said they had been photographed while out with their families or talking to neighbours from a safe distance.

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Supermarkets can be another flashpoint. Some have introduced one-way systems in their aisles, as well as markings to indicate where shoppers can queue a safe distance apart.

Tara Rankine said her husband was "tutted and grumbled at" while shopping in a Tesco in Bathgate.

She said: "I can only assume the man thought my husband was browsing and taking too long and they couldn't get past.

"Unfortunately, we are not in a position where we can grab the first thing on the shelf. We need to check the ingredients on everything because our son has severe food allergies.

"While it's great they were observing social distancing by not pushing past him, it unnecessarily made the shopping trip even more stressful than it needed to be."