Edinburgh police and council warn Scottish anti-lockdown protesters to stay at home

Edinburgh police have issued a warning to protesters planning to attend an anti-lockdown demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament on Monday as city council leader Adam McVey called the event an “incredibly selfish” and “disrespectful” protest.

Officers told potential attendees to stay at home and insisted that “wilful breaches” of lockdown rules would not be tolerated.

The Scotland Against Lockdown group plans to march from Holyrood to the First Minister's Bute House residence on Monday from noon to protest against restrictions, despite coronavirus cases remaining high across the country.

A total of 1,877 new cases and three new deaths of coronavirus were recorded in the past 24 hours to Sunday, taking the total number of positive cases of coronavirus in Scotland up to 149,766.

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Superintendent David Robertson, from Edinburgh Division, said: "We understand people want to make their voices heard, but they must do so lawfully and safely.

“The Scottish Government regulations are clear that public processions and static protests are prohibited under the current level four restrictions.

"Our approach throughout this pandemic has been to use the 4Es approach, which is to engage with the public, explain the restrictions in place, encourage compliance and, as a last resort, we will use enforcement, where required.

Police in Edinburgh have issued a warning to protesters planning to attend a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament next week that they will be in breach of coronavirus legislation. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

“The Chief Constable has been clear. Where officers encounter wilful breaches, we will act decisively to enforce the law.”

The anti-lockown group have named the Edinburgh protest ‘March For Freedom’ and claims the organisation wants to show it does not accept the “damaging lockdown”.

However, Police Scotland are urging people to act responsibly and stay at home to protect the NHS.

Superintendent Robertson added: “We are asking people to take personal responsibility and stay at home in order to protect our NHS and save lives.”

Edinburgh City Council confirmed it was in full support of the ‘stay at home’ message as the local authority’s leader claimed that “incredibly selfish” protests such as this put residents “at unnecessary additional risk”.

Mr McVey said: “We’ve been liaising with Police Scotland and we fully support their advice that people should stay at home.

"While people are entitled to express their opinions, to do so in this way and at this time puts our residents at unnecessary additional risk.

"This simply isn’t safe. To attend a protest like this now would be incredibly selfish and those doing so would be putting our families and communities at greater risk when numbers of transmissions are already far too high in Edinburgh.

"This attempt to create a crowd is utterly disrespectful to our businesses and residents who are sacrificing so much to try and keep all of us safe. Anyone thinking of breaking the rules by travelling to Edinburgh to attend this event should not do so – they are not welcome.”

Last month four men were arrested by Police Scotland after attending an anti-lockdown protest in Edinburgh.

A group of around 70 people marched from outside the Scottish Parliament to Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence, on December 12.

Some of those marching held up signs promoting conspiracy theories about the virus.

Police Scotland said it took appropriate action against the “illegal march”.

The latest protest comes after anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Glasgow city centre on Saturday afternoon despite record numbers of coronavirus deaths.

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