Nicola Sturgeon said she has not been in her official residence since March last year, as she declared work carried out on Bute House in her absence had been “essential”.
The First Minister responded to a report in the Daily Record newspaper that painters had carried out work on the 18th century property in Edinburgh’s New Town earlier this month.
Lockdown rules set out earlier in January prohibit all but essential work on homes in order to reduce the need for tradespeople to enter other households.
Asked about the story during the the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Friday, the First Minister said: “Certainly the impression it was giving is not accurate.
“Firstly, I’m not staying in Bute House just now.
“I haven’t set foot in Bute House since the first lockdown because back then I decided to minimise the number of staff that were having to be in Bute House to cut my own contacts as much as possible.
“There has been work carried out in January, but it was essential safety work as I understand – it’s been to pin part of a ceiling or the plasterwork of a ceiling that was deemed essential because the state it was in was unsafe.
“And I think there was some security work done at the same time.
“There has been no painting and decorating done, and that was the suggestion in the newspaper this morning.”
She stressed coronavirus rules apply to herself, Government officials and other ministers just as they do to everyone else.
Ms Sturgeon added: “I’m not exempt from these rules and nor should I be.
“I know people get really angry, understandably so, if they do get the suggestion that somehow I’ve got special dispensation, I really don’t have and nor should I have.”
Bute House, which is located in the north of Charlotte Square, has been the official residence of Scotland’s first ministers since Donald Dewar.
Before the briefing, opposition parties had claimed having work done on the property undermines the First Minister’s public health message.
Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “This news will come as a slap in the face to the millions of Scots who are studiously observing the current restrictions.
“The First Minister is undermining her own message by allowing this cosmetic work to be carried out, and potentially putting workers in harm’s way – surely she should lead be example?”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “As we continue to try and stop the spread of the virus, everyone including the First Minister must be mindful of the rules that are in place.
“While this work was deemed essential, many people will be wondering if this was absolutely necessary at this time.”
On January 13, Ms Sturgeon strengthened the rules on work inside people’s homes.
She said: “We have already issued guidance to the effect that in Level 4 areas, work is only permitted within a private dwelling if it is essential for the upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household.
“We will now put this guidance into law.”