Travel restrictions designed to stop the spread of Covid-19 from higher prevalence areas in Scotland will be become law this week, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
Announcing changes to local restrictions across the country, the First Minister said that guidance in place in recent weeks – not to travel out of or into areas in Level 3 or Level 4 – will become enforceable from Friday.
Speaking in Holyrood, the First Minister suggested that, if travel between high and low level areas continued, those areas could see an increase in restrictions as a result.
Ms Sturgeon also announced 11 local authority areas – including Glasgow, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire – will be moved into the highest level of restrictions which means non-essential shops, gyms, beauty salons and hospitality businesses will close.
She said: “To put it bluntly – and we will require to monitor this – if we see evidence that people from East or South Ayrshire are visiting places in North Ayrshire, or that people from Glasgow are going to Inverclyde, we would have no choice but to put these areas in Level 4 too.”
The First Minister later said that enforcement action would be used as a “last resort”, as has been the case for throughout the pandemic.
The change will be made by regulation, with secondary legislation not yet made public.
Following the announcement on Tuesday, Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles branded the change “draconian in the truest sense of the word”.
He said: “Does (the First Minister) not understand that these draconian changes in law… should be a decision not made by her alone… but by parliament before such measures can come into effect.”
The north east MSP asked the First Minister to allow MSPs to debate and vote on the changes before they become law.
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was “keen” to allow MSPs approve regulations before they come into force.
She added there were restrictions on travel in England and Wales as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Countries are having to take the most unbelievable – if we take ourselves back a year – decisions to keep people safe and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Spiers asked people to “take personal responsibility” over the new restrictions, adding that his officers will not be stopping cars or setting up roadblocks to enforce the rules.
He said: “People have been exceptionally quick to act when new restrictions are introduced. The mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops is evidence of this. Scotland is, generally, a law-abiding nation and I fully expect that public support to continue as these new measures are introduced.”
Mr Spiers added: “However, officers may in the course of their duties come across people who are travelling from one local authority area to another. In areas where travel restrictions apply, officers will continue to use the common sense, discretion and excellent judgement that they have applied since the crisis began.”
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