Police Scotland warn against house parties as pubs set to close this weekend
Police are warning people across Scotland to avoid house parties over the next three weekends as tough new coronavirus restrictions come into force.
Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland - Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian and Ayrshire and Arran health board areas - will shut from 6pm on Friday until October 25.
In all other parts of Scotland, such premises will be open from 6am to 6pm but can only serve alcohol outdoors until 10pm.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday in Parliament that the measures have been designed to stop a worrying rise in Covid-19 infections.
She said the rationale is that more than one in five people testing positive have reported visiting hospitality settings, with the risk of transmission increased in some places where ventilation is difficult – and the presence of alcohol makes adherence to social distancing more difficult.
But the hospitality industry has been left shocked by the move, with many suggesting it could fuel a rise in visiting other households where people are more likely to breach restrictions without the scrutiny you would get in bars and restaurants, for instance.
‘It is against the law’
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone reiterated that police officers will use “good sense” and exercise discretion by working with people to support implementing the new rules.
He 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.
“It is against the law.
“Where officers encounter blatant, wilful, or persistent breaches, we will take decisive action to enforce the law.
"The experience of the last six months is that the great majority of people are taking personal responsibility to do the right thing because they know that at this time physical distancing is the significant intervention that can be made to save lives.
“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.”
During yesterday’s announcement in Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said hotels will be able to stay open for residents.
Today, she confirmed that licenced cafes will be able to stay open until 6pm as long as they do not serve alcohol.
In central Scotland, snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will also close from 6pm on Friday.
Ms Sturgeon also pledged to offer a £40 million support package for affected businesses along with the UK Government's job retention scheme for the rest of October but acknowledged this will require a "significant contribution" from employers. But many in hospitality have questioned if this will be anywhere near enough.
Yesterday in Parliament, Ms Sturgeon also highlighted that many other countries – Ireland, France, Germany and Belgium – have announced a variety of different restrictions on hospitality in recent days.
It comes as the latest daily figures showed another 1,027 people tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland, with five further deaths reported.