Travel rules remain in cross-border areas hit by virus cluster

Five-mile travel restrictions will not be lifted in places affected by a cross-border outbreak of coronavirus.

Travel rules remain in cross-border areas hit by virus cluster CC BY-SA 2.0 by Malc McDonald

Coronavirus travel restrictions will not be lifted in parts of Scotland affected by a cross-border outbreak of the virus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland’s First Minister said she is “very hopeful” the cluster of cases – which has seen ten people test positive for Covid-19 so far – will be contained.

As part of those efforts, she said restrictions preventing people travelling more than five miles for leisure purposes will not be lifted in affected areas.

The rule is being relaxed across the rest of Scotland from Friday, but Sturgeon said this would not be the case in Annan, Gretna, Dumfries, Lockerbie, Langholm or Canonbie.

Residents there will not be able to cross the border this weekend to visit pubs in England, which are reopening on Saturday, the First Minister added.

Mobile testing has been deployed to the area to help trace people who may have been infected, and care homes in the area will not permit visitors.

Speaking about the outbreak in Dumfries and Galloway and north-west England, she said: “So far ten positive cases have been identified, and a significant number of contacts are being traced and tested.”

She also said staff at three workplaces linked to two positive cases of the virus are being tested.

Professor Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director, said two factories potentially involved are the Young’s food facility and Alpha Solway, which make personal protective equipment for the Scottish Government.

Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said: “We are very hopeful this outbreak will be contained, and I should stress there is no evidence at this stage to suggest otherwise.

“But until contact tracing and testing has been completed, we cannot be absolutely sure about that. That means we must act on a precautionary basis.”

She promised to give a further update on the situation on Monday – but told anyone planning on visiting affected areas over the weekend they should follow the local advice while there.

She urged businesses in the area to be “extra vigilant about hygiene and physical distancing”.

She added: “I know this will not be welcome news for people in these areas and I am genuinely sorry about that, but this outbreak is sharply reminding us just how highly infectious Covid is and how vital it is that we proceed with real care and caution.”

Prof Leitch said the first case they were aware of in the cluster was a healthcare worker from a hospital in Carlisle, who may have contracted the virus there.

He said: “The co-operation between Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway at a public health level is excellent, I’ve been very impressed with their director of public health and our director of public health.

“They will do what they need to do in England, my understanding presently is that there are no positive cases outwith the hospital that are concerning them related to this.

“The ones we’re concerned about are the ones who live in Dumfries and Galloway, some of whom work in England.” 

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