Covid: Willie Rennie under fire for canvassing without a mask mid-pandemic

WILLIE Rennie has been criticised after he went canvassing around his constituency in apparent breach of Covid regulations.

Although canvassing itself falls within government guidelines, Rennie was not wearing a mask, and “certainly” failed to maintain a two-metre distance.

One local who spoke to Rennie yesterday evening told The National he had raised these concerns with the Scottish LibDem leader.

“He [Rennie] didn’t at any point try and apologise or say ‘I understand that’, or ‘Would you like me to wear a mask’ or make any particularly pointed attempt to stand back.

“He just smiled his cheesy grin and didn’t attempt to apologise or acknowledge that some people might find this inappropriate, which it is.”

READ MORE: Covid not ‘out of control’ in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon says

When Rennie, who represents North East Fife at Holyrood, was told he was not following government coronavirus guidance, he reportedly said: “No, no, we’re allowed to do this. It’s outside.”

The local resident said: “Probably, technically you are allowed to do it, but that really isn’t the point here is it, it’s whether you should be doing it.

“We’ve got villages here in North East Fife with infections, we’ve got an aging population, and he clearly shouldn’t be doing this.

“He shouldn’t be out and about when the language is ‘Don’t do it if it’s not essential’.

“I don’t think they should even be delivering leaflets. They shouldn’t be asking the posties to stick extra stuff out, and certainly not chapping on doors.”

Approached by The National, the Scottish LibDems did not deny Rennie had been out canvassing without a mask, but insisted that “all parliamentary and party outreach work complies with the public health guidance”.

The LibDem spokesperson added: “It is disappointing that an SNP activist is seeking to politicise the pandemic.”

The local, who did disclose their SNP affiliation to The National, said the notion they were politicising anything was “absurd”.

They went on: “He didn’t enquire as to my political allegiance at all so that’s insinuation, it’s assumption that he’s making there. If anyone’s politicising it he is.

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“Common sense isn’t a political act. Complying with guidance isn’t a political act.

“We have been told to respect the two-metre distance and he absolutely didn’t, and didn’t acknowledge that that was something he should be cognisant of.”

The local SNP branch said: “We have paused door-to-door campaigning of any kind [since March], and our residents can rest assured that SNP Tay Bridgehead will not risk their health or welfare in that manner, regardless of the choices made by Willie Rennie and the Liberal Democrats.”

Another SNP source jibed: “Nothing can mask Willie Rennie’s waning popularity – even with his own voters.” 

Concerns about the Scottish LibDem leader’s canvassing have also been raised by LibDem voters, who were “very unhappy” at having had Rennie knock on their door, especially given their vulnerable status due to old age.

The Scottish LibDems declined to comment on those concerns.

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