Police are to be given powers to fine people who breach new coronavirus lockdown measures, Nicola Sturgeon said as she instructed people to stay home and announced funerals will be “restricted to immediate family only”.
The First Minister was speaking after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced draconian measures for at least three weeks which will see the closure of non-essential shops, libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.
Speaking at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said coronavirus is “the biggest challenge of our lifetime” and that the new measures are essential to “slow down the virus and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed”.
She said funerals will be “restricted to immediate family only” as she ordered people to stay at home.
The only permissible reasons to leave home are to shop for basic necessities, to take exercise once a day, for medical reasons, to care for a vulnerable person, or to travel to essential work that cannot be done at home, she said.
Ms Sturgeon said she wanted people to think of the new measures not as “guidance or advice” but as a set of rules.
“I fully expect the vast majority of people will do the right thing,” she said, but added that later this week emergency legislation will give powers of enforcement, which “will be used if necessary”.
Ahead of the new powers being introduced, police will give “strong advice” to those in breach of the measures to “cease and do the right thing”.
This will be followed by enforcement powers from Thursday, which will “likely take the form of fines”.
PLEASE STAY AT HOME – except for these limited reasons:-To shop for basic necessities-For one form of exercise a day-For medical/care needs, or to help a vulnerable person-To travel to and from work but only if it is a necessity.LIVES REALLY DO DEPEND ON IT. #coronavirus
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) March 23, 2020
Ms Sturgeon said new restrictions “amount effectively to what has been described as a lockdown”.
“If we do all of these things, if all of us do all of these things, if we all agree, however difficult, to restrict our own lives for a period then many fewer of us will die of this virus than would otherwise be the case,” she said.
“Let’s all do what we are being asked to do now to protect our own health and that of others and to show love and solidarity for our fellow citizens.”
Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said officers were fully behind the new measures, adding: “I urge and expect everyone to comply with them.”
He said: “We are aware of the proposed legislation in relation to coronavirus and are carefully considering the implications in this very fast-moving situation, which presents the gravest of threats to the nation.
“In the meantime, Police Scotland has a clear, positive duty to both protect life and improve the safety and wellbeing of people across Scotland, while supporting the Government and health agencies in our fight against this pandemic.
“Therefore, until the new legislation is in place, we will be increasing police patrols in key areas across the country to engage with and provide guidance to anyone in contravention of the measures.”