Crowds flocking to beaches during lockdown ‘concerning’

Police were called when large numbers of people gathered at Portobello Beach in Edinburgh.

Sunseekers: A number of people were seen relaxing on the beach.
Sunseekers: A number of people were seen relaxing on the beach.

Scenes of crowded beaches during the coronavirus lockdown are “concerning”, deputy first minister John Swinney has said.

Police were called out when large numbers of people gathered at Portobello beach in Edinburgh on Wednesday during the warm weather, despite lockdown restrictions.

Officers did not issue any fines and instead asked people to return to their homes.

Moved on: Police did not issue any fines but dispersed sunseekers.

Swinney said he did not think the numbers of sunseekers who flocked to the beach was “in any way desirable” given the current circumstances.

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“The congestion of people illustrated the dangers that we face here,” he said on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland on Thursday.

“So many people, in such close proximity, doesn’t exactly illustrate following the guidance that has been set out.

John Swinney.
Concerns: Deputy first minister John Swinney

“The scenes from Portobello beach yesterday are concerning, there have been weeks and weeks and weeks in which people have really played their part in trying to tackle Covid.”

Scots have been under lockdown restrictions for more than eight weeks, and Swinney stressed the public have “in so many other respects” been following the guidance to stay at home for all but essential journeys.

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He said that is “why we have seen the progress that has been made in reducing the effect of coronavirus within our society and getting us into a position where we can begin to consider the lockdown”.

But he added: “I think the message of the scenes from Portobello yesterday is that people must continue to observe the requirements of physical distancing and of hand hygiene and of cough hygiene which are critical to enabling us to keep coronavirus under control.”

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