Police Scotland handed powers to close licensed premises

Emergency orders will be served on venues that stay open during coronavirus outbreak.

Police Scotland officers now have the power to serve emergency closure orders on any licensed premises refusing to close during the coronavirus outbreak.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham praised the “exceptionally high level of compliance” across the country from pubs, clubs, restaurants, gyms and other venues following the advice.

Both the Scottish and UK Governments urged licensed entertainment venues to close on Friday as part of efforts to encourage social distancing and halt the spread of Covid-19.

The Police Scotland deputy criticised the “small number of public houses… intent on defying this instruction” who have reportedly said they will remain open until legally ordered to close.

Mr Graham said: “This is absolutely reckless and endangers not only the lives of customers, but wider communities, in an extremely fast-moving and unprecedented situation where both the health and safety of the nation is at stake.

“Therefore, I have obtained further legal advice today (Sunday) and Police Scotland will now instruct officers to serve emergency closure orders on any licensed premises which refuses to comply on the grounds of the threat posed to public safety.

“Officers are now visiting these premises today to have them closed.

“A compulsory closure under the Licensing Scotland Act remains in place for 24 hours but can be repeated as necessary.”

The warnings come as Nicola Sturgeon reiterated measures were put in place to save lives and warned pubs remaining open would “put lives at risk”.

While 416 people in Scotland have tested positive – with 10 deaths – the First Minister said this was an underestimate of the true number of people with the virus.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “I am fully supportive of the enforcement action taken today which is entirely proportionate to the threat posed to the safety of Scotland’s communities.

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