Police have stepped up patrols to encourage people to do the “right thing” and follow lockdown rules.
Officers have been spotted carrying out checks in the Westhill area, around Arnhall Business Park, McDonald’s and Kingsford.
There have been widespread reports online that motorists have been quizzed by officers about their purpose for travelling – with some claiming to have been fined for going to a supermarket outwith the city boundary.
According to Scottish Government guidance, shoppers can travel outwith their local authority to pick up essential messages – although are encouraged to stay as close to home as possible.
For residents of some city suburbs, this may mean that Tesco at Westhill is closest to home.
Kingswells, for example, Tesco on Rousay Drive is fractionally closer at 3.1 miles away than the superstore in Westhill, which is 3.5 miles.
The shop is also the closest full-size supermarket for residents of Peterculter.
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has repeatedly said his officers will take a “common sense” approach and be working on educating people about the rules rather than actively carrying out Covid-19 travel checks.
Today police confirmed they had been carrying out “routine patrols” in the Westhill area, and that as a result of these, motorists may have been asked about essential travel.
Police urge stay safe, stay at home
Inspector Neil Morrison, from the road policing unit, said: “The chief constable has made it clear that officers will not be establishing check points or road blocks simply to enforce travel restrictions.
“We have increased patrols in our communities to explain the regulations and to encourage people to do the right thing.
“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.
“Where officers encounter wilful breaches, they will act decisively to enforce the law.”
One man who was stopped today said he had decided to head home after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s latest briefing.
He said: “I have been working at my office in Westhill with permission from my employer. However, when I heard the latest restrictions in Nicola Sturgeon’s speech today, I decided it was best to go home and work from there.
“I left the office just before 2pm and I was pulled over beside the new football training grounds.
“Two police officers asked me why I was leaving Westhill. I explained and they asked if I had a note from my employer. I stated that I didn’t. They advised me to have one in the future and then let me get on my way.”
The government guidance states that shopping is an essential reason to leave your home and you can visit another local authority if you have to.
However, it adds: “The law lists a range of examples of reasons for which both leaving your home and travel is permitted. Travel for essential shopping, including essential shopping for a vulnerable person. However, you should use online shopping or shops, banks and other services wherever you can and within your local authority if possible.”
As of Friday, the Scottish Government’s Stay at Home message will be adapted which could cause more police enforcement.
It will be tweaked to stipulate that people cannot leave their home for an essential purpose and then go on to do non-essential business or errands.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the change will help “provide legal clarity to facilitate any necessary enforcement.”