Scottish police break up 300 house parties during university lockdown chaos

Police patrol alongside the queue outside the Primark store on Princes Street in Edinburgh, which reopens today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Scottish police have handed out fines after responding to 300 house parties over the weekend. (PA)
  • Police in Scotland responded to more than 300 house parties at the weekend

  • Chief constable insists most people are following the new COVID-19 rules

  • Nicola Sturgeon says students are not to blame and may be able to see family at Christmas

  • Visit the Yahoo homepage for more stories

Scottish police responded to more than 300 house parties over the weekend as the country’s chief constable insisted his force will take “decisive action to enforce the law”.

Police Scotland said house parties were being held “in every community and age group”, as first minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted students were not to blame for a rise in coronavirus cases.

Officers handed out 101 fines and made 14 arrests, and three of the incidents required officers to force entry.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “There is no doubt that house parties or house gatherings are not permitted and there can be no excuse for arranging, attending, or hosting a house party.

Watch: What support is the government providing for jobs?

“It is against the law.

“Where officers encounter blatant, wilful, or persistent breaches, we will take decisive action to enforce the law.”

Scotland, like other parts of the UK, has tightened up on its coronavirus rules, with a ban on most socialising in private homes and a 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants.

Police Scotland said the “vast majority” of people had followed the rules.

“I am grateful for the support and co-operation of the public and the licensed trade which continued over the weekend,” Livingstone said.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 31: Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, gives evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, on January 31, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Mr Livingstone was questioned by the Sub-Committee on Police Scotland's priorities and draft budget for 2019-20. (Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images)
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said police will enforce coronavirus restrictions. (Ken Jack/Getty Images)

“I also want to again underline my admiration and compassion for young people and students who have responded so well to the pandemic at this crucial time of their lives.”

Sturgeon has thanked students at university, saying most had followed the rules and advice to stay away from pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Read more: Scots students can return home on long-term basis

At least 32 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 640 identified in students and staff by 25 September, Sky News reported.

Manchester Metropolitan University asked well over 1,000 students to self-isolate after 127 cases were confirmed.

Cases have also risen at Glasgow and Edinburgh Napier.

Sturgeon said: “Sticking to guidelines like that isn’t easy especially in the early days of a university term but it will make a difference.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.
Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.

“The incubation period for this virus means I am absolutely sure that we will continue to see increased numbers of infections amongst students for several days to come and there will always be a need for vigilance.

“But the responsibility that has been shown over the past few days will help our efforts to stem this spread and I want to say thank you for that.”

She also told students that a ban on visiting homes may not be in place for Christmas as students worry over whether they will see their families during the festive period.

“We review the rules every three weeks and that’s why we cannot provide specific guidance for Christmas right now, because that will of course depend on the course of the pandemic, but I want to be very clear that it is absolutely our priority to make sure students can go home for Christmas, as I know everybody will want to do,” Sturgeon said.

Coronavirus: what happened today
Click here to sign up to the latest news and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter