First Minister: Scots face 'on the spot' fines for breaching lockdown rules

Scots could face “on the spot” fines and even prosecution if they breach new lockdown powers to tackle Coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has announced today.

It came as she revealed that the number of deaths from the virus has risen by three to 25, while the number of new cases is up by 175 to 894.

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But chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood said an estimated 40-50,000 Scots are now likely to be infected.

Nicola Sturgeon updated Scots on the Coronavirus latest todayNicola Sturgeon updated Scots on the Coronavirus latest today
Nicola Sturgeon updated Scots on the Coronavirus latest today
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The First Minister said today that emergency laws to tackle Coronavirus passed at Westminster this week will come into force through new regulations being passed in Scotland later today.

It will mean police have powers to disperse gatherings of two or more people outside, as well as ordering people home if they are found to be outside without good reason. This could include shopping, getting medicine or one daily form of exercise a day.

The police will be able to issue “prohibition notices” and fines could be issued, while in some cases Scots could be prosecuted.

But Ms Sturgeon insisted the police will take a “soft touch” approach.

“We expect the vast majority of people to do the right thing without any requirement for enforcement,” she added.

The level of the fines, as well as any potential jail terms are still being finalised, the First Minister said.

"Enforcement powers, I hope do not have to be used, but they are there to make sure the right things are done to delay the spread of the virus."

Police will also have powers to close down listed businesses and premises, as well as ensuring those which stay open, like supermarkets, enforce social distancing.

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Ms Sturgeon added; "We will now enforce the restriction on people staying at home. It will now be the rule that you should only be outside for a reasonable purpose, buying food or essential household and medical supplies, travelling to or carrying out essential work, exercising once a day or providing care or essential assistance to others.

"Those found not to be acting in line with the regulations will be directed to return home or made to return home.

“They can also be subject to prohibition notices and if people don't follow prohibition notices or instructions to return home they could be liable to an on the spot fine and ultimately, if necessary, prosecution."

An extra 1.5 million face masks have also been brought into use from the NHS central stockpile amid concerns over a lack of protective equipment for NHS staff.

The masks had passed their "expiry date" the First Minister said, but they have now undergone testing and been deemed fit for use.

Ms Sturgeon said she was aware of concerns over protective equipment for frontline NHS staff.

"I want today to take the opportunity to emphasis to NHS workers and those working in the wider care sector that we know how important this is,”she added

"This is an issue that we attach the highest priority to."