Bordering on the ridiculous: Friends meet up with folding chairs for a cuppa either side of council sign marking boundary that keeps them apart due to Covid rules
- Tim Porteus, 58, and Sheila McWhirter, 57, live in two different areas of Scotland
- Storyteller Tim lives in East Lothian, while singer Sheila, lives in Edinburgh area
- The pair brought out deck chairs and a cup of tea and sat talking across border
It’s a situation bordering on the ridiculous.
But two friends from two neighbouring areas of Scotland have found a new way to continue to meet despite tough coronavirus measures.
Friends of 30 years, Tim Porteus and Sheila McWhirter live in the neighbouring council districts of East Lothian and Edinburgh.
But because both areas are currently in Tier 3 of the Scottish Government’s restrictions, Tim, 58, and Sheila, 57, are unable to cross the border to meet.
So they have come up with a new way to continue to meet face-to-face, while sticking to the country’s Covid rules.
Instead of crossing the border, the pair brought out deck chairs to the edge of their respective areas and enjoyed a cup of tea and a chat across the council divide.
Dad-of-five Tim, a storyteller from Prestonpans, East Lothian, said: ‘I came up with the idea on the spur of the moment.
Friends of 30 years, Tim Porteus and Sheila McWhirter live in the neighbouring council districts of East Lothian and Edinburgh
But because both areas are in Tier 3 of the Scottish Government’s restrictions, Tim, 58, and Sheila, 57, are unable to cross the border to meet.
The pair brought out deck chairs to edge of their council areas and enjoyed a cup of tea across the border
‘It was freezing, we were looking at the restrictions and saying we weren’t supposed to cross council boundaries.
‘We have both been struggling a bit with the lockdown, and we’ve known each other since the late 80s.
‘I said ‘why don’t we just meet at the border’, and my wife dropped me off – I don’t think Sheila expected me to bring chairs, she burst out laughing and I set up the cafe.
‘It was cold but we had the tea. People were honking their horns and waving.
‘It was really good fun, it seemed a bit of a mental thing to do.’
Tim and Sheila, a singer, also managed to maintain a two metre gap during their meeting.
The pair stayed separated by a border sign, with Tim’s side welcoming visitors to Edinburgh and Sheila’s side welcoming visitors to East Lothian.
Tim, a storyteller, and Sheila, a singer, also managed to maintain a two metre gap during their meeting
The pair stayed separated by a border sign, with Tim’s side welcoming visitors to Edinburgh and Sheila’s side welcoming visitors to East Lothian
Today it was announced that East Lothian will move into Tier 2 – meaning that should Tim choose to cross the border, he would not be breaking the law
Tim added: ‘Because we set it up on the border, we knew we weren’t breaking any rules.
‘It was like we were in our own bubble, a friendship bubble. We had a really big laugh about it. It was a bit like we were in a cafe.’
Scotland’s Level 0-4 system, how it works:
Level 0: As close to normal as possible. Broadly in line with the situation in Scotland in August when the virus was suppressed but still around. At this level people can meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open safety measures in place.
Level 1: Household meetings reduced to six people from two households but a reasonable degree of normality overall.
Level 2: Limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people’s homes.
Level 3: Much of hospitality being closed completely. But restaurants able to be open ‘at least partially’.
Level 4: Closer to a full lockdown, with non-essential shops closed. But six people from up two households could still meet outdoors.
Today it was announced that East Lothian will move into Tier 2 – meaning that should Tim choose to cross the border, he would not be breaking the law.
The situation was similar to one in England, prior to the national lockdown, where two pubs in the same village were hit with different Covid rules – which meant locals were free to socialise with friends in one but banned in the other.
The Eight Bells and Three Horseshoes, both of which are in the small English village of Bures, were put under different lockdown rules because they were in different counties.
Bures straddles Suffolk and Essex, with a tiny bridge over the River Stour – which splits the two parts.
But the village, home to around 1,400 residents, was split with an invisible divide after the two counties were put into different categories of the government’s Covid alert system.
While Suffolk was classed as a Tier 1 area, neighbouring Essex was classified as a ‘high risk’ infection zone – making it Tier 2.
Those living in the Essex half of the village were banned from meeting for a drink with other households indoors, while those on the Suffolk side could, provided they stick to the government’s rule of six.
However, the previous local lockdown rules were superseded by the national lockdown rules, which are now due to end on December 2 in England.
Scotland has different rules. More than two million Scots were last week plunged into lockdown.
A total of 11 local authority areas across central and western Scotland, including Glasgow, will enter the highest tier restrictions, Tier 4.
The strict regulations will remain in place for the next three weeks.
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