Nicola Sturgeon has maintained her stance on potentially imposing quarantine restrictions on people travelling from England to Scotland after a week of the country registering no coronavirus deaths.
The Scottish First Minister said she wanted to continue working “constructively” with English authorities but warned she would not “shy away” from necessary measures to protect people in Scotland.
During ITV’s Peston programme on Wednesday night, she was asked about effectively quarantining Scotland from England if there was a local rise in cases.
Again this is not political, it is not constitutional, I'm taking these decisions purely from a public health perspectiveNicola Sturgeon
Ms Sturgeon has previously said she does not have “an anti-English bone in my body” and described suggestions of imposing restrictions on English people crossing the border for political reasons as “plain wrong”.
She told Peston: “Scotland would have the ability through public health measures to ask people to quarantine if they came to Scotland.
“Again this is not political, it is not constitutional, I’m taking these decisions purely from a public health perspective.
“We do see prevalence of the virus at a lower level at the moment, although we’re not complacent, than we do in England.
“But that’s not something I want to do if we can avoid that, I think the first thing we want to do is work very constructively as we do already with authorities in England to look at good outbreak management and where that requires localised travel restrictions, then rely on that in the first instance.
“But I’m not going to shy away from doing anything that I think is necessary and appropriate and effective in protecting people in Scotland from a virus that we know now to our painful cost can take life and also as we are increasingly learning can do a lot of long-term health damage to people.”
Our full line up 👇@Peston & @AnushkaAsthana are joined by Health Secretary @MattHancock, First Minister of Scotland @NicolaSturgeon, American civil rights activist @deray, Baroness @SayeedaWarsi and Labour MP @peterkyle— Peston (@itvpeston) July 15, 2020
𝗟𝗜𝗩𝗘 𝟵𝗣𝗠 @itvpeston | @ITV 𝟭𝟬𝟰𝟱𝗣𝗠 | #Peston pic.twitter.com/Mq9WbsPdkx
Another report in the programme discussed initial plans for a coronavirus vaccine coming from Oxford.
Ms Sturgeon urged caution about any progress on that front, adding “it is at least possible if not probable that the older sections of the population would have priority… if we had to prioritise them that way”.
Her cautious outlook during the pandemic has also brought the First Minister under fire in some corners over the decision to take longer in bringing Scotland out of lockdown compared to England.
She added: “My calculation is that if we are more successful in driving the virus to very low levels, getting as close as possible to elimination of it before a potential second wave in the autumn and winter, then we will build ourselves a much more sustainable foundation for economic recovery.
“The judgment is that taking a couple of weeks, and that’s pretty much what we’re talking about here, longer to come out of lockdown, if that buys us a more sustainable recovery in the medium to long term, then that’s the right thing to do.”
At the end of the interview, Ms Sturgeon was also asked about a hair cut – which she posted a picture of on Twitter – hailing it as “the sweetest reunion of all”.
She wore a red tartan face mask in the selfie, with hairdresser Julie also wearing a mask along with a visor and disposable gown.
It came on the day lockdown restrictions were further relaxed across the country with indoor pubs and restaurants also reopening.
Speaking during the daily briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said no Covid-19 deaths had been reported in the last 24 hours among patients who have tested positive for the virus – the seventh day in a row without a rise in fatalities.
A total of 2,490 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive, she said.
The figure is lower than the 4,187 deaths reported by the National Records of Scotland as they do not include suspected and probable coronavirus infections.
The latest figures show 18,373 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by five from 18,368 the day before.
Ms Sturgeon said on three days in the week to July 9, there were no admissions to hospital of confirmed Covid-19 cases and there have been six days in total since June 26 with no coronavirus admissions.