NICOLA Sturgeon has warned Covid sceptics that they are “putting people’s lives at risk” by gathering for anti-lockdown protests.

The First Minister spoke out as a demonstration was staged outside the Holyrood Parliament.

Scotland Against Lockdown organised the “march for freedom” event, which coincided with the Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, with one death and 1782 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours. 

A small crowd gathered at Holyrood at around 12pm despite community liaison officers warning they would face a fine if they stayed at the location.

Two women were taken into the back of police vehicles after arguing with officers about their right to be outside the Scottish Parliament to protest.

The National: Demonstrators gathered outside the Scottish ParliamentDemonstrators gathered outside the Scottish Parliament

Sturgeon was asked about the demonstration at the briefing. She was unequivocal in her response.

“It’s not some that’s particularly earth-shattering but I’m a passionate believer in freedom of speech and freedom of speech and people’s right to protest in a democracy,” the First Minister said.

“But right now, coming together in groups is putting people at risk. It’s putting people’s health at risk and frankly it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s putting people’s lives at risk.

“I think it’s deeply irresponsible to be doing that, whoever you are and whatever the cause is that you might be protesting for or protesting against.

READ MORE: Anti-lockdown protesters flout restrictions and gather in Glasgow

“To people who are Covid deniers. Covid’s not fake, it’s not made up, it’s not a figment of anybody’s imagination. You try telling that to the 1600 people in Scottish hospitals today suffering from Covid; the more than 100 people in intensive care suffering from Covid today; the more than 4000 families who are currently grieving the loss of a loved one because of Covid.

“It’s not made up, it’s very, very real and if you think not wearing a mask or gathering together in groups and encouraging people not to take the vaccine makes you smart, I just think the vast majority of the population disagree with you and think you’re actually being really irresponsible.”

The First Minister praised the vast majority of Scots who follow the coronavirus restrictions.

She added that the law and the justice system will “take care” of those who willfully break the rules. The latest demonstration follows two other recent events – another in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow’s George Square.

Protesters at the demos were condemned after ignoring pleas to stay away, and were seen standing close together flouting social-distancing rules.