Coronavirus: Defiant pubs face emergency laws

Fiddlers Arms in the Grassmarket has been closed since Friday Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Fiddlers Arms in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh is among those sticking to government advice to shut

The first minister has warned she will use emergency legislation to close pubs that ignore advice to shut in the wake of the coronvirus outbreak.

Nicola Sturgeon said the vast majority were complying with the advice, but those that did not were putting lives at risk.

The UK government announced on Friday that licensed premises, restaurants and other venues should shut.

Police Scotland said closure orders would be served where necessary.

It follows reports that a number of pubs across Scotland have ignored advice to close over the weekend.

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To date 10 people in Scotland have died after testing positive for Covid-19.

The total number of confirmed cases currently stands at 416, but experts have warned the true number of people with coronvirus will be significantly higher.

Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said the importance of the advice could not be underestimated.

She said: "The pub is an enclosed environment. People are going there to sit near each other, to interact with each other.

"There are hard surfaces, tables, counters, which are not always cleaned all of the time and so the pub is actually somewhere, where if there is somebody even with mild symptoms, that could spread.

Emergency legislation that would give the state sweeping powers to close premises is currently being drawn up. The legislation would apply across the UK and could be used by devolved administrations.

'Fast moving situation'

On Saturday Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "Emergency legislation will give us these powers within days and we all not hesitate to use them if necessary. But pubs etc shouldn't wait for that - they should do the right thing now. Indeed the vast majority are. Those who don't put lives at risk."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A sign outside the Halfway House pub in Edinburgh, which closed before the government advice was issued last week.

The closure of pubs came at the end of a week of major announcements designed to combat the spread of the virus, including the closure of schools and the cancellation of exams.

Deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham said: "I am aware that a small number of public houses are intent on defying this instruction and have indicated that they will remain open until legally ordered to close.

"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 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."

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