Scottish police break up 300 house parties over weekend as revellers hold illegal gatherings in snub to lockdown – with 101 fines issued and 14 arrests
- Parties are being held in ‘every community and age group’, police claim
- Police Scotland officers had to force their way into homes on three occasions
- They were also deployed to ensure pubs and clubs closed at 10pm
- Figures come amid widespread criticism of PM Boris Johnson and the curfew
Cops were called into to break up 300 house parties across Scotland over the weekend.
Police Scotland handed out 101 fines and made 14 arrests while responding to complaints of house parties between Friday night and Sunday.
Police were also deployed across Scotland to help councils ensure pubs and clubs closed at 10pm.
It comes amid widespread criticism of the government’s coronavirus curfew, which Tory MPs have branded a ‘sick experiment’.
Scores of drinkers were spotted gathering in crowds across the UK at the weekend after the 10pm closure times.
Officers from Police Scotland were called into to break up 300 house parties across Scotland over the weekend
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured here at a Covid-19 press conference, said earlier this month that the country was at a ‘key moment’ in the battle against the virus
Public Health England showed that the majority of outbreaks of coughs and chest infections – some of which were likely Covid-19 – happened in schools and care homes in the week to September 20. Just three per cent were reported from bars and restaurants
A government scientist has slammed the proposed 10pm curfew before it is announced, claiming it will not be enough to curb the spread of the virus.
Professor Calum Semple, from the University of Liverpool and a member of SAGE, said the measures will ‘have to go further’ to turn around the advance of the disease.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 he said: ‘We’re likely to see increased restrictions on the hospitality sector, I think. In time, it will probably have to go further than a 10pm curfew and table service only.’
He said new measures needed include keeping people away from the office, stopping mixing in households, and a move to online classes for sixth form colleges and universities.
Decrying the Rule of Six, he said: ‘I think the Rule of Six has been tried, it’s not had time to kick in yet, but based on the numbers I’m seeing, it doesn’t go far enough.
‘So, I do think we will be restricting inter-mingling between households.
‘The epidemiologists and scientists that I work with, and I’m not just talking about the ones on SAGE, I’d say there’s hardly a cigarette paper’s thickness between what we feel about this.
‘The time to act is now, we are in a serious situation, and the numbers that are rising are tracking the current worst case scenario.
‘So, there is significant anxiety among the science community and health community.’
Explaining the situation at his local hospital in Wirral, Liverpool, he said there were already several cases in intensive care.
‘We’re seeing a rise in hospital admissions,’ he said. ‘I can tell you our hospital on the Wirral has several cases in the intensive care unit.
‘A study that I run which looks at hospital cases in England, Scotland and Wales is seeing a rapid rise in case admissions and, interestingly, we’re actually seeing a rise in people between the age of 20 and 40, particularly women, which we didn’t see previously.
‘And that suggests that it’s community exposure in hospitality settings and care settings, which we didn’t see before, probably because people under the age of 50 are less invested in social distancing.’
Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty warned in an address yesterday that without decisive action the UK’s outbreak of coronavirus could spiral out of control.
An impromptu party reportedly took place in London’s Oxford Circus, while groups descended on the Harbourside area of Bristol and in city centres including Leeds and Newcastle.
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the government’s drinking deadline was merely shifting the partying into homes.
Boris Johnson is facing a rising tide of anger over his handling of the crisis as the draconian restrictions appeared to backfire spectacularly.
Downing Street hit back at the criticism as news emerged the government is considering a total social lockdown for parts of the country.
This would force pubs, restaurants and bars to shut for at least two weeks to curb the spread of the virus.
But there is no guarantee that the new measures would be effective as figures show the hospitality industry was to blame for only 3% of all coronavirus outbreaks last week.
The figures from Public Health England – updated every Friday – show just 22 of 532 outbreaks of acute respiratory infections were reported in food outlets in England between September 14 and 20.
The tough restrictions are forcing revellers underground, with many holding illegal gatherings to snub the lockdown.
In Scotland this weekend officers had to force their way into homes on three occasions, and said parties are being held across the country in ‘every community and age group’.
Chief Constable Iain Livingston 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.’
Cops were also deployed to help councils ensure pubs and clubs closed at 10pm.
Police Scotland said there were ‘very few issues’ and no premises closed by police.
The news comes after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned the country must ‘step up’ its efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus earlier this month.
In a public address she said Scotland was at a ‘key moment’ in the battle against the disease after a recent surge in case numbers.
Ms Sturgeon also said the increase in cases was largely being driven by younger people ‘interacting more’ as she cautioned if such behaviour continues the virus ‘will eventually seep into older and more vulnerable groups’.
The Chief Constable added: ‘Highly restrictive measures on our lives, freedoms, and daily routines are in place as, collectively, we respond to this public health emergency.
‘Policing is here to support people and to help everyone to do the right thing, to prevent the spread of the virus.
‘Officers will use good sense and exercise the discretion that is integral to the office of Constable, to work with citizens to support the implementation of these new rules.
‘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 am grateful for the support and co-operation of the public and the licensed trade which continued over the weekend.
‘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.’
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