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Published on March 26, 2020 12:23 PM

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People who do not comply with social distancing rules in Scotland could be fined by the police, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Emergency legislation has been passed at Westminster to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Ms Sturgeon said it meant Police Scotland could have new powers as early as today to enforce social distancing.

There have now been 894 confirmed cases of the virus in Scotland, with 25 people having died.

This was an increase of 175 confirmed cases and three deaths since Wednesday. The actual number of cases is likely to be much higher.

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The new powers will allow police to hand out fixed penalties to anyone caught flouting the social distancing rules that were imposed earlier this week, which have left the whole of the UK effectively in "lockdown".

Ms Sturgeon said these were "last resort" measures, but that "ultimately this is about saving lives".

Police Scotland's Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone, told BBC Radio Four that officers would be able to instruct people to go home, and "to use reasonable force if required" - but said the power to make arrests was an "absolute backstop".

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Image caption Nicola Sturgeon said she expected the vast majority of people to "do the right thing"
People across the UK have been urged to stay at home to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and reduce pressure on health services.

Only limited trips out of the house are to be permitted - for exercise, to buy vital supplies or to attend essential work - and gatherings of more than two people, unless they are from the same household, are banned.

The first minister said that "those found not to be acting in line with regulations can be made to return home".

And she said police officers will also have the power to give out "prohibition notices" and to close businesses and premises if needed.