People living in Scotland are being urged not to travel to areas in northern England facing new lockdown restrictions following a spike in coronavirus cases.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said non-essential travel should be avoided between Scotland and Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
UK health secretary Matt Hancock announced on Thursday evening that “immediate action” was needed across those areas.
Sturgeon chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Committee (SGORR) on Thursday following an update from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the decision to introduce new localised lockdown measures.
Travellers returning to Scotland from areas of northern England experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases are being advised to minimise contact with people outside their own household for 14 days and avoid indoor hospitality.
People who have already travelled to the affected areas are being advised they do not need to return to Scotland early.
Sturgeon said: “I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for the update on the recent developments in the North West of England and all four nations agreed on the importance of sharing localised information as we work together to continue to supress the virus.
“We have always been clear that localised flare ups are likely as we continue to supress the virus but by responding quickly and appropriately we can limit the effect these have on wider transmission.
“I strongly advise anyone planning to travel to areas affected in the north of England, or anyone planning to travel to Scotland from those same areas, to cancel their plans.”
Affected local areas in England:
- Greater Manchester: City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale, Salford.
- Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale.
- West Yorkshire: Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees.
The new rules in the affected areas of northern England 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.
The Office for National Statistics said there has been an increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England.
According to the ONS, between July 20 and 26 there were around 0.78 new Covid-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England – equal to around 4,200 new cases per day.
This is up from an estimated 2,800 new cases a day in the previous week.
“We have always said that we would expect to see outbreaks, we’re dealing with an outbreak in Greater Glasgow and Clyde right now, so we will all see these challenges.”Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister
Sturgeon said: “We have always said that we would expect to see outbreaks, we’re dealing with an outbreak in Greater Glasgow and Clyde right now, so we will all see these challenges.
“I think there is a concern in England that there is perhaps an increase in general community transmission in parts of the country and again we must be vigilant about that.
“We are seeing plenty of warnings right now from the UK – England in particular – but we shouldn’t be complacent, and plenty of warnings from across Europe that Covid has not gone away and it may be on the rise again and it presents a real risk to health and wellbeing.”
Sturgeon said the Scottish Government’s decision-making is driven by its objective to eliminate Covid-19.
“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,” she said.
“But we see this as being an important and necessary precaution.”
There have been 30 new cases of coronavirus in Scotland in the past 24 hours, according to Scottish Government statistics.
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.
“We’ve always said there is a reverse gear in each country and there is a reverse gear here, and we will have to not hesitate if that is what is required.”Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director
Scotland announced yesterday that Scotland will remain in phase three of its lockdown exit, but revealed potential dates for further sector reopenings.
Meanwhile, a planned easing of England’s lockdown has been postponed a day before it was due to come into effect, as Johnson warned people “cannot be complacent” amid a rise in the prevalence of coronavirus in the community.
Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said: “We’ve always said there is a reverse gear in each country and there is a reverse gear here, and we will have to not hesitate if that is what is required.
“That’s not the stage we’re at, so please don’t misunderstand me, we are still comfortable with our control of the virus but it is very fragile.”