Greater Manchester mayor calls Scots travel ban ‘hypocrisy’

Andy Burnham hits out at Nicola Sturgeon over 'unnecessary' Covid travel restrictions.

Greater Manchester mayor calls Scots travel ban ‘hypocrisy’ PA ReadyPA Ready

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has accused the Scottish Government of “hypocrisy” over a travel ban to the North West.

Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday all non-essential travel to Manchester and Salford would be banned from Monday, but the Labour mayor said he or his administration were not contacted before the announcement.

The First Minister pinpointed the areas as Covid-19 hotspots, despite figures in the cities matching case rates in parts of Scotland.

“Anyone travelling elsewhere in the Greater Manchester or Lancashire area, I’d ask to think carefully about whether your journey is really necessary, because we do see cases rising across that region,” she said on Friday in a coronavirus briefing.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Burnham said: “I was really disappointed on Friday that the First Minister of Scotland just announced out of the blue, as far as we were concerned, a travel ban saying that people couldn’t travel from Scotland to Manchester and Salford and people couldn’t go the other way.

“That is exactly what the SNP always accuse the Westminster Government of doing, riding roughshod over people.

“The SNP are treating the north of England with the same contempt in bringing that in without any consultation with us.”

He added: “I just think it’s double standards, it’s hypocrisy.

“They’ve done to us exactly what they always complain that the UK Government does to Scotland.”

Burnham said he would be looking for his constituents who planned to travel north of the border to be financially compensated by the Scottish Government.

“I’ll be writing to the First Minister today,” he said.

“I’ll be asking for compensation for the individuals who might lose holidays and the businesses who might lose bookings.

“Why should a couple from Salford who are double jabbed who are about to go on a walking holiday in Scotland not be able to go?

“It’s completely disproportionate in my view – we could have come up with a different arrangement if the First Minister had been in touch with us.”

Burnham went on to say there should be “an arrangement” put in place, which would mean there would have to be consultation between Scotland and the north of England before such a travel ban was put in place.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Nobody wants travel restrictions in place for any longer than is absolutely necessary and placing restrictions on travel between Scotland and Manchester and Salford has only been taken after extremely careful consideration, and in the same way we have previously done in relation to a number of other areas in England.

“We are taking a four nations approach wherever possible and are always willing to work across all levels of government to protect our local economies whilst, critically, ensuring we minimise the risk of Covid-19 spreading.

“We realise that for those with family or friends in Manchester or Salford, or for anyone who was simply planning a visit, this is disappointing. But rates of Covid in these cities are particularly high at the moment and these restrictions are intended to minimise the risk of either exacerbating the situation there or indeed allowing more virus to come back here to Scotland.

“The Scottish rules on travel to and from other parts of the Common Travel Area are kept under active review and are subject to change depending on the state of the pandemic.

“Given the importance of using up to date data, this can sometimes happen at short notice and we would ask everyone to check the latest guidance before they travel, and check what insurance or booking arrangements are in place for any travel or accommodation booked in advance.”

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