Politics

Nicola Sturgeon still considering quarantine at border with England

Nicola Sturgeon will still consider introducing quarantine at the Scottish border for travellers from England.

The First Minister renewed her warning that the Scottish government could close impose quarantine measures on cross border travel as she said that the “fundamental responsibility” for eliminating the virus lay with Scots following social distancing rules as lockdown eases this week.

Asked about the continuing possibility of border measures the First Minister said: “I will keep all of these things under review. One of our biggest risk over the next few weeks is the risk of importation into the country.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, she sais: “That’s why I have taken a very cautious decision about international quarantine and, this is not a position I relish being in, it also means that we have to take a very close look at making sure we are not seeing the virus come in from other parts of the UK.”

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Sturgeon added: “It is not something we are planning to do but I will take decisions at the best I can to protect the health of Scotland and to that that absolutely from a public health point of view.”

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The First Minister was slammed by opponents for “stoking division” although the SNP leader insisted the consideration had nothing to do with the politics of independence and said there were global examples of states banning travel across internal national borders.

She said: “This is not political, it’s not constitutional, it’s just taking a similar view to countries across the world in terms of protecting populations from the risk of the virus.”

Sturgeon also repeated her condemnation of border protests by a group of masked nationalist activists who urged holidaymakers not to cross into Scotland.

She said: “People from England are welcome in Scotland and lots of people in England live in Scotland and vice versa. This is not about politics, it’s not about the constitutional agenda, it’s just about taking decisions to try to protect people as much as possible from covid.”

But the pro-UK group Scotland in Union accused Sturgeon of playing dogwhistle politics despite her insistence that she was not pushing a nationalist agenda.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “Nicola Sturgeon can’t help herself. By once again talking up the prospect of quarantining English visitors she is trying to drive a wedge between Scotland and England, and giving the green light to her supporters to repeat their ugly protests.

Nash added: “Any future lockdown measures should be taken on localised public health decisions, as we have seen in Leicester, not based on the line on the map between Scotland and England that Ms Sturgeon is so obsessed with.”

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Tory MP for the Borders John Lamont tweeted: “Nicola – stop stoking up division”.

He said: “This ridiculous suggestion from Nicola Sturgeon would have a devastating impact on the thousands of residents living along the border who move between Scotland and England each day for work and to visit family.

Oliver Mundell, the Scottish Conservative MSP for Dumfriesshire also accused the First Minister of “stoking division”.

After Sturgeon’s interview he tweeted: “Nationalism at work. Spreading lies, whipping up fear and stoking division. We are one United Kingdom. It is not in our interest to pull up the drawbridge.”

The First Minister said the “fundamental responsibility” for eliminating coronavirus in Scotland lay with Scots themselves.

With significant easing of lockdown due this week she said: “The fundamental primary responsibility to keep the virus low  in Scotland is on the shoulders of all of us in Scotland to do the right things about face coverings, avoiding crowded places, clean our hands and keep two metres distance and follow the advice on self-isolating and getting tested if you have symptoms.”



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