New powers given to police to disperse house parties from tomorrow is not the Scottish Government “trying to police your social life”, the First Minister said today.
Nicola Sturgeon announced the new powers which will see police given the power to break up house parties involving 15 people from more than one household will only be used as a last resort.
She also added she was not encouraging the people of Scotland to become ‘curtain twitchers’ as part of the enforcement of the rules.
The new police powers follow several reports of large house parties being the focal point of Covid-19 outbreaks.
The First Minister said the temptation to hold big indoor gatherings will be greater during the colder autumn and winter months, and added that they pose a “significant transmission risk”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I also want to make it clear, particularly to young people, this is not about trying to stop people having fun.
"We’re not trying to police your social life. Seeing and socialising with your friends is important especially during what continues to be a really difficult period.
"But for the overall health and wellbeing of the country, it needs to be done safely and responsibly because that’s how we will avoid the return to some of the stricter lockdown measures and how we will continue to keep this virus under control.”
The First Minister emphasised that the use of these new powers would only be for “flagrant breaches” of the restrictions and were not a green light for people to host house parties of up to 15 people, rather than sticking to the current rules of no more than eight people from three different households.
When asked whether the rules were about encouraging people to become a nation of curtain twitchers – people who are on the look out for misbehaviour of neighbours - Ms Sturgeon said “no, I am really not”.
She added the powers will be used “proportionally”.
The First Minister said: “The police are well able to proportionally and sensitively enforce these regulations as they have enforced all of the other regulations around Covid.
"If the police think there is a gathering in a house which is breaching the guidance, they will no doubt if they have an awareness of that and if they a requirement to engage with that they will encourage people to comply with the guidance and disperse and that will be the case if it is eight or 10 or 12 people.
"If it is over 15 and as a last resort if people are refusing to follow the advice and comply voluntarily than the police will have powers to enter and disperse.
"Just as all of these powers have been used by the police really sparingly and as a last resort I am pretty sure it will be the case with these as well.
"But it is important that there is that backstop because we know that in a minority of cases these flagrant breaches of the guidance will lead to transmission of Covid.”