NICOLA Sturgeon has threatened to put curbs on socialising and travel into law after mass breaches of the revised guidance on the first weekend of the lockdown easing.

The First Minister said she “would not hesitate” to legislate to keep outdoor meetings below eight and ban travel outside local areas to suppress the spread of coronavirus.

It follows a surge in rule-breaking in Phase 1 of the route-map out of lockdown.

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Police Scotland reported a five-fold increase in the number of groups officers were forced to disperse to 797 on Saturday alone.

At the Scottish Government daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said there were also examples of people driving well beyond the recommended five-mile limit from home.

The 70 per cent rise in road journeys was a “cause of concern”, with the A82 at Loch Lomond and Glen Coe both seeing a three-fold increase in traffic.

The First Minister said there had also been examples of people staying overnight in tents, caravans and motor homes, despite her plea to stay at home as much as possible.

She said: “I’m going to be blunt here - it is very hard to see how all of that can have been caused by local residents, or by people travelling a reasonable distance to meet loved ones."

Ms Sturgeon added: "Last week we deliberately allowed some flexibility when we changed the lockdown restrictions.

"We recommended that people don’t travel more than five miles for recreation, but we left room for some discretion so that you could go further to visit family.

"And we strongly recommended that when two households meet, there should be no more than eight people in total in a group - but again, we put that into guidance rather than putting it in law, because we trust, and continue to trust, the majority to keep those groups small and to stay within the rules.

"But it is worth being clear, in fact I have a duty to be clear with you, that if there is continued evidence of even a minority not abiding by those guidelines and travelling unnecessarily – if people meet up in larger groups or make journeys which risk spreading the virus - we will have to put those restrictions, on group size and travel distance, into law.

"And we won’t hesitate to do so if we think it is necessary for the collective safety and wellbeing of the nation."

She said people disregarding the guidelines were putting their open health at risk, as well as the health of the country.

However she said that, for now, she would appeal to people’s better judgment.

She said the "vast majority" of people are following the rules.

The First Minister admitted last week, on the eve of the lockdown easing, that she was "nervous" the marginal change in the rules would lead to people going further than the guidance allowed.

She said: "This is something that affects all of us, and all of us will influence which direction this goes in now."

She added: "We have to stick at this, and we have to do it for ourselves but also for each other. 

"And I would make an appeal to people across the country to do that, and to do it not because I'm asking you to, but to do it because our wellbeing collectively as a country depends on it."

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Outdoor activities such as sunbathing and non-contact sports have been allowed since Friday, with two households alllowed to meet outdoors subject to a limit of eight people, provided social distancing is maintained.

The Scottish Government's central advice remains for people to stay at home as much as possible, and to work from home if they can.