John Swinney discusses weather disruption and vaccine
Scotland’s Health Secretary Jeane Freeman threatened the tougher measures if Boris Johnson declines to tighten his quarantine hotel plans. The Department for Health and Social Care confirmed from February 15, anyone travelling to the UK from a country on the UK’s travel ban list will be required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.
But Scottish Government ministers say the UK Government plans do not go far enough, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcing Scotland will do the same for all travellers – not just those from hotspots.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Ms Freeman said: “Those are difficult issues, partly because we’ve got individuals who work in Scotland and live just over the border and vice-versa, and of course there will always be exemptions for haulage traffic, but we need to continue to talk that through with the UK Government.”
When asked if there could be checks on the border with England if restrictions are not tightened by the UK Government, the SNP Government minister added: “I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no.
“What I’m saying is, those discussions need to continue to see what more we can do, if we can’t persuade the UK Government to take the tough, clinically-led approach that we are taking, then we need to work with them to identify how can we then continue to protect Scotland to the maximum level.”
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Express.co.uk understands such checks could be carried out by Police Scotland or public health officials under expanded powers.
But opposition parties and critics hit out and said warned any measures introduced by the SNP led administration must not be “politically motivated”.
Oliver Mundell, Scottish Tory MSP for Dumfriesshire in the Scottish Borders said: “People living and working in my constituency need to know that they will be able to travel across the border for essential purposes.
“Speculation that border checks might be in place only creates confusion among people in close proximity to the border.
“SNP ministers and officials must deliver clear and consistent messaging at all times.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, told Express.co.uk: “Any measures the Scottish Government takes must be evidence-based and not politically motivated.
“The SNP must not use the ongoing health crisis as a proxy for building a border between friends, families and neighbours.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney added discussions were ongoing between the two governments about the final restrictions.
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Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Friday afternoon, he stressed the importance of working “collaboratively on a four-nation basis with the other governments of the United Kingdom”.
Mr Swinney added: “Quarantine hotels are another tool we can use to stop any importation of the virus, and we’ll use every available tool we have and obviously work with other governments to make as much progress as we can in that respect.”
But he made clear that “one aim” was to create “as big and as effective an obstacle” as possible for anyone tempted to get around Scotland’s tougher rules.
Mr Swinney concluded: “I certainly don’t take the view that it’s too late for any of these measures to happen.”
Express.co.uk also understands discussions are underway whether to introduce a UK wide system for booking rooms.
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