'It's not for recreation' - Scottish Government tell public what is (and is not) acceptable when outdoors during Covid-19 lockdown

The Scottish Government has gone further to make it clear what is and is not acceptable when outdoors during the Covid-19 lockdown, as new figures revealed some Edinburgh resident are still flouting the rules.

Police have been carrying out spot checks across the Capital in recent days and asking anyone breaching the Government restrictions to disperse, with enforcement used as a last resort.

But figures released today by Police Scotland revealed more than 500 people across Scotland have been issued with fixed penalty notices and 35 have been arrested, since the emergency coronavirus powers came into force two weeks ago.

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Edinburgh police issue 32 fines and arrest five people as Covid-19 lockdown rule...
Police carried out spot checks by the Water of Leith, and pictures showed dozens of cars parked up by Arthur's Seat.

Police Scotland’s Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone, said many of the fines were given to people hosting house parties or gathering in public, even after officers had given warnings.

Of the latest national figures, 32 people in Edinburgh were given fines and five people were arrested. Another 106 people were told by officers to disperse and a further 22 had to be warned by police after failing to do as they were told.

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‘Exercise up to 1 hour a day’

The UK Government’s guidance clearly states that people should only go outside for food, health reasons, essential work which can’t be done from home, and exercise once a day. When outside, people should maintain a two metre distance with people from another household at all times.

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Police were doing spot checks by the Water of Leith this week.

Pictures seen by the Edinburgh Evening News showed officers on Wednesday speaking to people who were sitting on benches on a path by the Water of Leith. Some were reportedly seen sitting on benches eating and drinking, while one person was spotted using their laptop.

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The Evening News asked the Scottish Government for extra clarity on what people can reasonably be doing while outside during lockdown, incuding sitting down to eat and drink or taking a rest.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is vital that people stay at home and only go out for essential reasons – including for up to one hour of outdoor exercise a day.

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“We’re sorry, but this is not for recreation or to pursue a hobby. Clearly, if someone needs to take a brief rest while exercising outside they are welcome to do so while ensuring the correct social distancing is maintained.”

Edinburgh City Council guidance, displayed on posters in various walking spots around the city, states specifically that stopping to eat or drink is a breach of the guidance.

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The council’s guidance also urges people to not get in their car and drive to other areas and, while dog waking, keep pets on a lead or under close control and not let them approach other people.

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs has also urged the public to “use their common sense” when they are going outside, not just to protect themselves but to slow the spread of the virus and protect those in the community who are most vulnerable.