Scots have been urged not to visit parts of northern England hit by a spike in coronavirus cases, with Nicola Sturgeon warning there is a “significant risk” this could lead to a rise in infections north of the border.
The First Minister said Scots who are already in the affected areas should be “extra vigilant” when they return home, by minimising contact with anyone outside their own household and avoiding pubs and restaurants for two weeks.
She warned: “There is a significant risk of importation from parts of the north of England right now.”
The UK Government has imposed tougher lockdown restrictions in the areas affected, with people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire now once again banned from meeting each other indoors.
The new rules also ban members of different households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues – although businesses will remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government “demonstrated that we’re prepared to take the action that’s necessary to keep people safe”.
Ms Sturgeon urged Scots who had planned to travel to those parts of England this weekend not to do so unless their trip is “absolutely essential”.
Scots who are already visiting the affected areas do not need to cut their trips short, but she urged them to follow the new rules where they are and take extra care on their return home.
3/ if you are from Scotland and already visiting one of these areas, you donât have to cut short your visit - but please abide by the rules while there and be extra vigilant when you come home, especially for symptoms.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 31, 2020
Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government has now issued strong advice against non-essential travel between Scotland and the affected parts of the north of England.
“Let me be very clear, we don’t do this lightly. The connections between Scotland and the north of England are very strong, they are very important and they are highly valued by people on both sides of the border.
“But we see this as an important and necessary precaution. Our advice is of course designed to minimise the risk of spread from England into Scotland but it is also designed to assist people in these parts of England.
“By not travelling there we are making sure that we don’t exacerbate the challenge that they are facing.”
Last night I had to announce local action to tackle a spread in #coronavirus.— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) July 31, 2020
We take this step with a heavy heart, but it is so important that people follow the social distancing rules so that we can control the virus & save lives.https://t.co/uAWxc09o7q pic.twitter.com/UtGoCEVTuo
She welcomed the UK Government’s action in the regions, saying “we will all face challenges like this in the period ahead”.
She said the need for caution is more “obvious” now than it has been since the start of the outbreak of coronavirus, after daily figures showed 30 new cases in Scotland.
She said: “Today is the first time we have had 30 new cases in a single day in more than eight weeks.
“We must pay attention to that and I want to assure we are paying close attention to that.”
359,537 people in Scotland have been tested for #coronavirus— Scottish Government (@scotgov) July 31, 2020
The total confirmed as positive has risen by 30 to 18,627
The number of deaths of patients who tested positive remains at 2,491
Latest update â¡ï¸ https://t.co/bZPbrCoQux
Health advice â¡ï¸ https://t.co/l7rqArB6Qu pic.twitter.com/NhZ0xbgXr1
Daily coronavirus figures published by the Scottish Government on Friday show a total of 19,027 people have tested positive for the virus.
The number of new cases is almost double the 17 announced the previous day and is 0.8% of the 15,307 new tests which reported results.
No deaths were registered of people who tested positive for the virus for the 15th day in a row, with the total remaining at 2,491.
There are 255 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, down five in the past 24 hours. Of these, four patients are in intensive care, up two from Thursday.