Police in Scotland will have new powers to break up house parties with more than 15 people from today, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The move comes after a cluster of Covid-19 cases in Aberdeen was linked to a series of bars in the city, with concerns that many venues had not been following social distancing guidelines.
Health officials have warned that large indoor gatherings could be “high-risk super-spreader environments”, adding that stricter enforcement now could prevent the reintroduction of lockdown measures later in the year.
Yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended the new police powers in her daily press briefing.
“I also want to make it clear, particularly to young people, this is not about trying to stop people having fun,” Ms Sturgeon said.
"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 well-being 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.
She insisted that the powers would be used “proportionally”, adding that she was not encouraging the people of Scotland to become ‘curtain twitchers’ as part of the enforcement of the rules.
"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.”