PUBS and bars defying new government guidance to shut down during the coronavirus pandemic are "reckless" and "endangering the lives of customers", according to police chiefs.

On Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson instructed licensed premises to close to try to stem the spread of Covid-19, with outlets across the country announcing their temporary closure over the weekend.

The advice has largely been heeded in Helensburgh and Lomond, however Police Scotland's deputy chief constable, Malcolm Graham, has warned anyone not complying that they are putting themselves and others at risk.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said emergency measures will be introduced to give police the power to close down premises and that news has been welcomed.

READ MORE: Helensburgh Costa Coffee manager: I had to close to protect public

Deputy chief constable Graham, Police Scotland’s lead for coronavirus, said: "There has been an exceptionally high level of compliance across Scotland with the UK and Scottish Government instruction for entertainment venues to close, with thousands of premises shutting.

“However, I am aware that a small number of public houses are intent on defying this instruction and have indicated that they will remain open until legally ordered to close.

“This is absolutely reckless and endangers not only the lives of customers, but wider communities, in an extremely fast moving and unprecedented situation where both the health and safety of the nation is at stake.

"Therefore, I have obtained further legal advice and Police Scotland will now instruct officers to serve emergency closure orders on any licensed premises which refuses to comply on the grounds of the threat posed to public safety.

“Officers are now visiting these premises to have them closed.

“A compulsory closure under the Licensing Scotland Act remains in place for 24 hours but can be repeated as necessary.

“We will also report them to their relevant Licensing Board for further action to be considered.

"We are aware of the proposed legislation in relation to coronavirus, and are carefully considering the implications in this very fast moving situation.

“These are exceptional times and I would again urge everyone to stay safe and listen to the clear advice coming from health experts and government.”

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