People opening pubs during lockdown face police action, says minister

By Neil Pooran, PA Scotland

People who open pubs or restaurants during the Covid-19 lockdown face police action under new powers granted by emergency legislation, a Scottish Government minister has said.

Michael Russell was discussing the use of the Coronavirus Bill to ensure businesses and individuals are following the rules on social distancing.

Those who breach the guidelines can be told to return home by police, with fines and prosecution possible for those who fail to comply.

The Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs said people will still be able to leave the house once a day for exercise during the lockdown.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday: “There’s no desire to penalise people for absolutely no reason.

“But this will be required to be done if people are doing the wrong thing. People should be confident that, if they’re doing the right thing, if they’re out for their exercise in the way suggested, then they’re not doing anything wrong and the regulations say that.

“But if people are flouting these matters, if people are doing things they shouldn’t do – for example, opening pubs, clubs or restaurants that they shouldn’t be opening, or trying to get away with something – then they will be obviously penalised.”

Police Scotland’s Chief Constable also appeared on Good Morning Scotland on Friday.

Iain Livingstone said the levels of compliance with the new rules have so far been “fantastic”.

The force’s helicopter unit tweeted that four people had been ticketed by police after gathering in Pollok Park, Glasgow, on Thursday.

Mr Livingstone said: “The issue of younger people who will undoubtedly be getting a bit stir crazy having to remain at home – we know naturally they like to congregate in larger groups at that age.

“I would encourage them, and their parents, their carers and everyone, to try to use the multitude of mechanisms now to maintain contact.

“Whether it’s Houseparty… all sorts of apps that I have discovered in the last two or three days, that allow people to keep in touch and keep in contact.

“I do recognise there’s a need for people to maintain social contact, it’s important for mental health and their own well-being to maintain relationships.

“But it can’t be done in public.”