Almost two-thirds of Courier readers have backed Nicola Sturgeon’s view that Scotland should consider quarantining people arriving from the rest of the UK.
The first minister yesterday said introducing quarantine for people coming to the country from England is being considered, as she raised fears Boris Johnson was letting the coronavirus “circulate” south of the border.
Ms Sturgeon said “all options” would be explored to try to stop a Covid-19 resurgence, as she failed to rule out such measures for those crossing the Scotland/England border.
An online Courier poll, created minutes after the Ms Sturgeon’s announcement yesterday, asked whether Scotland should consider quarantining people arriving from the rest of the UK if necessary.
By 1pm Tuesday the poll had received 1,265 votes. Of these, 822 (65.03%) felt quarantining incomers may help save lives, with 442 (34.97%) believing this measure impractical.
On The Courier’s Facebook page beneath the original story, both sides of he argument were aired.
Irene Birse wrote: “Let Boris circulate all he likes but we are doing very well thanks to Nicola, yes visit Scotland by all means but you have self quarantine first!”
Pauline Cameron wrote: “Good for her, we’ve done really well here suppressing the virus, let’s keep it that way.”
On the other side of the fence was Albert Cromarty, who wrote: “What is she going to do with the hundreds of thousands of cars and lorries crossing the border every day she really does come up with some really stupid stuff.”
Christine McLevy wrote: “The majority of Scotland’s goods come from England. Scots travel south of the border to work, and English workers travel to Scotland. When the English tourists decide to boycott Scotland then we’ll see how that works out.”
Although border control is under Westminster control, Ms Sturgeon pointed out in Monday’s press briefing that quarantine measures were part of public health, which is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
From a public health perspective, we have to be able to consider all options if it is required to try to stop a resurgence of infection in Scotland.”
When asked about the possibility of people travelling from elsewhere in the UK north of the border having to quarantine, Ms Sturgeon replied there were no plans “right now”, but nothing was being ruled out.
She said the issue should not be viewed through the “prism” of the Scottish constitutional debate, claiming it would be informed by public health considerations.
But she asked people to look at other areas of the world, like New York and New Jersey, where travellers were being asked to quarantine if coming from Covid hotspots. She said similar arrangements were in force in Germany’s Landers.
“From a public health perspective, we have to be able to consider all options if it is required to try to stop a resurgence of infection in Scotland,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“If we want to get back to normal and we want to see our children back in school in August, we must keep infection rates low.”
Ms Sturgeon said the way to ensure that quarantine arrangements would not be needed at the Anglo-Scottish border was “to get as close to elimination” of the virus “as possible”.
“I would really welcome a statement from the prime minister that England’s strategy was about trying to eliminate the virus as well (as the Scottish Government’s strategy),” Ms Sturgeon said.
“As opposed to what it appears to be, to me, perhaps letting it circulate at higher levels as long as it doesn’t threaten to overwhelm the National Health Service. So, we have to keep these things under review if we want to keep our levels of infection as low as we can get them.”
Ms Sturgeon’s failure to rule out quarantine for people travelling to Scotland from the rest of the UK angered Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw.
Mr Carlaw said: “The first minister needs to rule out any attempt to close off Scotland from the rest of the UK.
“While it may be that localised lockdowns will be needed to deal with individual flare-ups over the months ahead, they should be handled as such.
“This should not be used as an issue to drive a wedge between Scotland and England.”