Nicola Sturgeon says she could make it ILLEGAL for Scots to travel far from home


Nicola Sturgeon says she could make it ILLEGAL for Scots to travel far from home as she attempts to tackle coronavirus outbreak

  • The First Minister said she is considering legally enforcing travel restrictions 
  • Those in Level 3 currently told not to leave local council area unless essential
  • Those in lower level areas told to ‘minimise unnecessary journeys’ they take
  • FM told MSPs: we are actively considering … legal underpinning in future’

Nicola Sturgeon threatened to criminalise Scots who travel far from home today as she warned of a toughening up of Scottish Covid laws.

The First Minister said she is considering legally enforcing travel restrictions in the country, with an announcement expected next week, to prevent coronavirus spreading to areas of low prevalence.

It came as the number of daily coronavirus deaths in Scotland hit its highest level since May.

People in Level 3 areas of Scotland are currently advised to avoid leaving their local authority boundaries unless essential, while those in areas with lower levels are told to ‘minimise unnecessary journeys between areas in different levels’.

Scots are also advised to avoid unnecessary travel to other parts of the UK.

Appearing in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Committee this morning, alongside interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘Clearly, we have travel restrictions in place. In terms of guidance, we are actively considering whether we give a legal underpinning in future weeks to these travel restrictions and I’ll probably say more about that at the review point next week.’

The First Minister said she is considering legally enforcing travel restrictions in the country, with an announcement expected next week, to prevent coronavirus spreading to areas of low prevalence.

People in Level 3 areas of Scotland are currently advised to avoid leaving their local authority boundaries unless essential, while those in areas with lower levels are told to 'minimise unnecessary journeys between areas in different levels'

People in Level 3 areas of Scotland are currently advised to avoid leaving their local authority boundaries unless essential, while those in areas with lower levels are told to ‘minimise unnecessary journeys between areas in different levels’

 Scottish Conservative Health Spokesman Donald Cameron said: ‘Any travel restrictions must avoid unnecessary confusion and they should be communicated clearly to the public.

‘We cannot have another shambles like the SNP’s mixed messages over what’s a cafe and what’s a restaurant.

‘If further restrictions are necessary to suppress the virus, they should be considered by parliament, and the public should be left in absolutely no doubt about where they should and should not travel.’

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s briefing in Edinburgh on Wednesday, the First Minister said 50 deaths from Covid-19 and 1,433 positive tests had been recorded in the last 24 hours.

It takes the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 2,927.

A total of 4,649 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, the National Records of Scotland said earlier on Wednesday.

Its figures – which record all deaths registered in Scotland when Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate – show 167 fatalities were registered between October 26 and November 1, an increase of 61 from the previous week

Ms Sturgeon said it is too soon to know if Wednesday’s high daily figure is part of a trend but she stressed the number of deaths is not the most reliable indicator of the spread of the virus.

She warned coronavirus could ‘overwhelm’ Scotland’s hospitals if there is not a ‘significant and sustained improvement’ in the reduction of coronavirus before the winter months.

Referring to the Prime Minister's announcement that furlough at 80% of wages will be extended for the planned four-week lockdown in England, Ms Sturgeon said: 'The same level of financial support must also be available after November'

Referring to the Prime Minister’s announcement that furlough at 80% of wages will be extended for the planned four-week lockdown in England, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The same level of financial support must also be available after November’

The First Minister also used the briefing to repeat calls for the furlough scheme and support for the self-employed to be available beyond the period England is in lockdown.

Ms Sturgeon said she has not had formal confirmation from the UK Government but hopes to get clarity at some point later on Wednesday.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s announcement that furlough at 80% of wages will be extended for the planned four-week lockdown in England, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The same level of financial support must also be available after November.

‘The current confusion and the lack of clarity is – and I think this is an obvious point – not helpful for our decision-making but it is not helpful for businesses and employees who of course are anxious about jobs and wages at this time.

‘We cannot have a situation where businesses are rightly fully supported when England enters a lockdown but comparable support isn’t made available if all or part of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland face similar restrictions.’

She added: ‘So I very much welcome the apparent commitment of the Prime Minister to equal treatment that he gave in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

‘As a result of that commitment, we hope and expect that the furlough scheme will be available at its current levels that will apply through November if we need to import stronger restrictions in any part of the country in the future.

‘But we have still not seen any detailed written commitments on this from the Treasury and we need to do that as a matter of urgency.’

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