Police have issued more than 140 fixed-penalty notices to people flouting coronavirus lockdown rules in Scotland in the week since new powers came into force.
It is now a criminal offence to flout the public health guidance on social distancing to prevent Covid-19.
Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the “overwhelming majority” of people in Scotland have been doing the right thing and following the rules.
But he warned police officers will not hesitate to take action against those who refuse to comply.
Weâre out & about in #Edinburgh engaging with the public & explaining the current risks to health. These streets are usually busy, but itâs good to see our residents #SocialDistancing & following the #StayAtHomeSaveLives advice in line with government guidance for #Coronavirus pic.twitter.com/NuT9TneVj5— EdinburghPolice (@EdinburghPolice) April 2, 2020
He told BBC Good Morning Scotland on Friday: “We’ve had to use the powers very infrequently. The level of co-operation and support from the public in terms of social distancing has been vast, overwhelming, everyone is stepping up and doing their duty.
“I said at the outset that we would use these powers only as a last resort and our approach would be to engage with people, to encourage people to comply with the social distancing guidelines, but where people refuse, where there’s absolute refusal to do the right thing by their fellow citizens, we will take action.
“We’ve issued more than 140 fixed-penalties right across the whole of Scotland in the first week, which is very low numbers in terms of enforcement, but I do think it’s important to know that when people refuse to co-operate, when people refuse to do the right thing, then police will take action.”
In total, officers issued 144 fixed penalty notices under the new legislation between Friday March 27 and Wednesday April 1.
During one incident in Paisley on Saturday, three penalty notices were issued to a group of men who police said had no reasonable excuse to be together in a van and who said they had no intention of adhering to the regulations.
In Aberdeen on Tuesday, six penalty notices were issued following a report of a house party where the occupants refused to stop.
The highest number of penalties has been issued in Greater Glasgow with 46 followed by the north-east at 20 and Ayrshire on 18.
Mr Livingstone said he is keeping a close eye on sickness levels within the force but at the moment it is able to meet requirements.
He urged people to continue to follow the guidelines to try to slow the spread of the virus.
The regulations give officers the power to enforce social distancing among the public.
Police can issue penalty notices of £60, reduced to £30 if paid within 28 days, if they believe there has been an offence.
The regulations will be reviewed at least every 21 days to ensure they are still necessary.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Everyone should be staying at home wherever possible and I am hugely encouraged by the high levels of compliance around the country after the first week of these rules being in force.
“These rules are in place to slow down the spread of Covid-19, which will protect the NHS and save lives.
“While Police Scotland have powers of enforcement, I expect that these will be used only as a last resort, and that the vast majority of people will use their common sense and play a full part in this countrywide effort.”
Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said: “The best way of slowing down the spread of coronavirus is social distancing so I must thank Police Scotland for working with members of the public to keep them safe and encourage them to comply with these regulations.
“I would remind everyone that if you do have to leave your house for any of the essential reasons – food, medicine, care, exercise or work, and you absolutely cannot do them at home – then please stay two metres away from people you don’t live with and keep human contact as limited as possible.”