A warning has been issued after police in Oban handed out 10 penalty notices to those breaching Covid-19 travel guidance over the course of the weekend.
Officers in the Argyll town have warned any potential travellers that under the current guidance, it is not permitted to travel from a tier 4 area to tier 2 for a holiday.
Six of the penalty notices were issued to people travelling from a tier 4 area into the Oban area to attend a house party, with four other people issued with a fine for travelling from a tier 4 area into the Oban area in one vehicle.
— Oban Police (@ObanPol) November 30, 2020
During the first five days of the new restrictions, up to November 25, 33 people in the whole of Scotland were penalised for breaking travel regulations.
Some locals fear that the 10 people caught in Oban on Saturday and Sunday were just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Argyll is in tier two, where there are less restrictions in place than areas of the central belt in tier four.
The county enters tier four at Tyndrum on the A82 Glasgow to Inverness road.
Inspector Mark Stephen said: “We are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to protect the NHS and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.
“The policing approach we adopted from the outset of the pandemic will not change.
“Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance. We will use enforcement as a last resort where there is a clear breach of the legislation.
“The Chief Constable has said publicly on numerous occasions that we will not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks, and that will not change as a result of travel restrictions now being in law.
“However, officers may in the course of their duties come across people who are travelling from one local authority area to another.
“In areas where travel restrictions apply, officers will continue to use common sense, discretion and excellent judgement that they have applied since the crisis began.”
Local councillor Julie McKenzie urged those wishing to visit Argyll and Bute to think twice, and that a warm welcome will be delivered when “it is safe to do so”.
She said: “It is really disappointing that despite the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on families and communities across Scotland we continue to see a minority of people flouting the rules by travelling here for non-essential reasons.
“At the moment Argyll and Bute is in tier 2 and we are all working hard to get us to tier 1, therefore it concerns me greatly that despite the very clear rules, people from tier 4 areas continue to travel and put lives at risk.
“I appeal to anyone living in a tier 4 area who is thinking of travelling to Argyll and Bute to think of others and their well-being.
“Our doors are currently closed to you and our local police officers are rightly taking a very proactive approach, in an effort to keep us all safe.
“This will not be forever and Argyll and Bute will still be here and we will welcome you back with open arms when it is safe to do so.”
Oban Community Council chairwoman Marri Malloy also asked people to stay away. She said: “The police are doing a good job. But I don’t understand why we are still allowing people from tier four areas to come into the town for work.
“I don’t see the difference between people coming on a holiday or coming for work. If the police have picked up on 10 that must only be the tip of the iceberg.
“People shouldn’t be coming into the town for any reason whatsoever.”