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Police Scotland granted powers to break up large house parties

By David Porter

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Restrictions on social gatherings will come into force from tomorrow, Friday, August 28 making it an offence to breach coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance by having a large house party indoors.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made it clear that the move, which will be reviewed every three weeks, was necessary to ensure socialising can continue in a safe and responsible manner ahead of an expected rise in indoor gatherings during autumn and winter months.

Reports from local outbreak Incident Management Teams suggest that the increasing number of house parties taking place against guidance pose a major risk of Covid-19 transmission and could present high-risk ‘super-spreader’ environments.

While the majority of incidents have been confined to the Central belt, there have been noted incidents in the north-east including in Kemnay where police presence has been required.

Taking responsible action now can help protect families, communities, schools and local businesses from having to return to the stricter lockdown measures necessary to contain any virus outbreak.

The First Minister said: “Seeing friends is particularly important during what is a really difficult period.

"But it needs to be done safely and responsibly.

"That is how we avoid the return of some of the stricter lockdown measures and continue to contain this virus.

“We know from our test and protect teams – and also from evidence around the world – that large, indoor gatherings pose a major transmission risk.

“The majority of people, young and old, will be sticking with limits under current guidance – and I am very grateful for that – however, there are a minority who don’t.

“I want to make it very clear – particularly to young people – that this is not about stopping you having fun, but enabling you to have fun safely.

“Ensuring police have the powers to enter and disperse large house parties is another tool in suppressing the virus.

"While we expect these powers to be used as a last resort, it will help to reduce the potential for future clusters and outbreaks.”

Under current guidance, no more than eight people from a maximum of three different households should be meeting indoors.

That remains in place.

To take account of varying sizes and compositions of families across Scotland, it will be an offence for someone to have a party indoors in their house with more than fifteen people from more than one household present, with limited exceptions.

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