Police Scotland has confirmed there will be “increased patrols” in Scotland’s communities over the following weeks, in a bid to ensure Scots follow Covid lockdown rules.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today announced fresh measures to combat the spread of the new highly transmissable strain of Covid-19 - by putting the country back into full lockdown akin to the one experienced at the beginning of the pandemic.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the force’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic “had not changed”, and officers will continue to act against anyone making “wilful breaches” of the law.

Mr Livingstone said: “Officers and staff have worked exceptionally hard throughout the pandemic to keep people safe and our visible presence will be increased over the coming days and weeks.

“We will have increased patrols in our communities to explain the regulations and to encourage people to do the right thing.

“Where officers encounter wilful breaches they will act decisively to enforce the law.

“The vast majority of people have stepped up to take responsibility and our determination and collective effort to tackle this virus must now continue in the difficult times ahead.”

A legally-enforceable stay-at-home order will apply for all of January in all areas currently under Level 4 restrictions – mainland Scotland and Skye.

People will only be permitted to leave their home for an “essential purpose” and only two people from two different households can meet outdoors instead of the previous limit of six people from two households.

Mr Livingstone added: “I fully recognise the impact these further restrictions will have on people’s lives.

“However, it is clear that the significant sacrifices being made by people across Scotland are vital to help suppress the spread of coronavirus.

“Our approach throughout the pandemic has not changed. Police Scotland officers will continue to support people to follow the regulations and encourage them to take personal responsibility.

“People should not leave their homes unless for essential purposes.

“The best way to stay safe is to stay at home.”