Tayside’s most senior policeman has admitted the authority given to officers during the coronavirus pandemic is “extraordinary” and “not powers they would normally wish to have”.
Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd made the comments ahead of the Easter holiday weekend.
He said “only as a very last resort” would enforcement action be used against people flouting the strict Scottish Government advice on coronavirus.
Traditionally, locals gather in their droves in the city’s parks and green spaces with family and friends to roll their eggs.
However, to restrict the spread of Covid-19, well-publicised restrictions are in place which include a ban on gatherings of more than two people except for those from the same household.
Outdoor exercise is encouraged, but only one form for a limited period each day, and people should not be travelling by car or other means of transport to visit parks and open spaces.
Chief Superintendent Todd said: “Firstly, I would like to thank the vast majority of the public who are adhering to the guidance set out by the Scottish Government so far – the response we have received has been overwhelmingly positive and, in the face of such challenging circumstances, this has never been needed more.
“We have been given extraordinary powers that Police Scotland would not normally wish to have, however this is an extraordinary situation and one which everybody – collectively – needs to play their part in addressing.
“The legal instructions on not leaving your home without a reasonable excuse apply to everyone and individuals must not make personal exemptions bespoke to their own circumstances.
“With the Easter weekend approaching, I appreciate this will be more frustrating than ever however effective social distancing is essential to protect each other, support key workers, take strain from the NHS and save lives.
“Wherever our officers encounter people outside, we will engage with them if necessary to establish their circumstances, explain the guidance and encourage them to comply with it if they are doing something that is putting others at risk.
“Only as a very last resort will enforcement action be used where people continue to defy the clear advice being given.
“Stay home this Easter weekend, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Convener of Dundee City Council’s neighbourhood services committee, Anne Rendall, said: “We all need to be clear that, sadly, this will not be an Easter like any we have had before.
“Even if the sun is shining, we cannot be tempted into flouting the clear restrictions which are in place to protect our NHS and ultimately save lives.
“Nobody should be driving to our parks. Nobody should be arranging to meet up with family and friends. Nobody should be sunbathing, picnicking or having a kick-about.
“This isn’t about spoiling people’s fun. Social distancing is there to protect ourselves, our families and our loved ones from a virus which is claiming lives here in our city and around the world.”
As part of the measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, all play parks, mixed use games area courts, outdoor exercise equipment and public toilets are closed until further notice.
Councillor Rendall continued: “We would ask everyone to stick to the routines they already have in place for getting some daily exercise and not make special trips this Easter weekend.
“If lots of people choose to go to a handful of parks instead, it will make it more difficult to maintain the two-metre distance.
“The vast majority of people in the city are following the social distancing guidelines, and all of the resilience partners are grateful for that. But we need to keep it going, there is no room for complacency.
“And remember, there are many other ways in which we can keep ourselves and family entertained and mark the holiday. I wish everyone in Dundee a safe and healthy Easter.”
Families are being encouraged to take part in alternative activities such as a home-based Easter egg hunt, or designing their own Easter eggs.
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