First fines handed out under ‘stay at home’ laws

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A senior police officer has thanked the public and businesses for complying with a new law designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Officers were given new powers on Friday to fine people £30, which can rise to £60 if not paid within 28 days, being doubled for each repeat offence up to a cap of £960.

Across Scotland, 25 fixed penalty notices were issued over the first weekend of the lockdown, although there is no breakdown yet on where they were given out.

Nationally, people have been discouraged from driving to scenic areas to get exercise or walk their dogs.

Deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham said today: ‘We’ve had high visibility patrols in place right across the country since we were given these enforcement powers.

‘But it’s clear that the vast majority of people are complying with the measures. They know the message is to stay at home, and by and large, they’re doing that.’

He said officers had been able to ‘engage or educate’ people why it is important to follow rules proposed by public health experts.

The aim is to save lives, halt the spread of the virus and protect the NHS from being inundated.

‘There will always be people who refuse to comply, but the low number of penalty notices shows they are in the minority and in those cases we’ve had to use enforcement as a last resort,’ said the deputy chief constable.

‘This is a big change to the way people live their lives and they need to adjust.’

To enforce social distancing, people are being asked to stay at home and only go outside if they have a reasonable excuse.

This is limited to exercising for an hour either on your own or with your household, shopping for essentials as ‘infrequently’ as possible, collecting urgent medicines, or travelling to and from work but only if ‘absolutely necessary’ and you cannot work at home.

The tough new regulations will be reviewed at least every 21 days to ensure they are still necessary, said Police Scotland.