Nicola Sturgeon points to Wales to justify new Covid-19 travel restrictions

Nicola Sturgeon by Kenneth Halley (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Nicola Sturgeon has pointed to Wales to justify new travel restrictions that will stop people leaving the country without a reasonable excuse.

Scotland’s First Minister had been criticised by the Conservative Party who say the restrictions are outside the Scottish Parliament’s competence as a devolved administration.

But Nicola Sturgeon said that Wales, where both lockdowns in the spring and autumn have come with restrictions on travel over the border, showed it could be done.

Referring to Wales’ Labour First Minister, Mark Drakeford, she said: “He was right, because he is determined to keep his country safe. I am as determined as he is to keep my country as safe as I possibly can.”

However, she said that unlike Wales, Scotland had not felt the need to impose blanket restrictions across the country.

“I am making no criticisms, but, unlike the situation in England and the situation in Wales a few weeks ago, so far, we are avoiding a national one-size-fits-all level of restrictions, because we do not think that it is right for areas with low rates of the virus to have the same restrictions as areas with higher rates of it if we can avoid it,” she said.

“However, in order to maintain that proportionate, targeted approach, we must avoid taking the virus from higher-prevalence areas to lower-prevalence areas and having people from lower-prevalence areas going to higher-prevalence areas and taking the virus back, so that prevalence in those areas goes up.”

 

‘Confusing’

The ban, which comes into force from 6pm today, includes guidance from the Scottish Government which warns that those living in a council area in level 3 or level 4 “are now required to stay in that area unless they have a reasonable excuse to travel”, pointing to work, education or welfare reasons.

Those who ignore the travel ban could face a £60 fine as ministers published excuses for being allowed to move between different council areas and to leave the country.

Earlier, Scottish Labour leader Richard branded the travel ban a “Red herring”, instead calling on Nicola Sturgeon to focus on tackling the pandemic.

Mr Leonard warned “the best-case scenario is that the travel ban will confuse” the public, adding that “the worst-case scenario is that it will criminalise them”.

”The travel ban is a red herring,” he said. “Instead, the First Minister must take action on some of the things that members of the Scottish Parliament and the people have been calling for.”

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