Nicola Sturgeon forced to defend idea of Scots travel ban in law

The First Minister was challenged on a move to “apply the force of law to travel restrictions” by Richard Leonard as she said it was still being considered by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Labour leader said "huge sacrifices” were being made by people, and reminded Nicola Sturgeon of her pledge that "restrictions should be in place for a short as time as possible".

However, he said today's announcement on the tier structure had not seen one council area moved to a lower tier and “Fife, Perth and Kinross and Angus being moved up to level three from Friday". Mr Leonard said the “First Minister is now contemplating the serious measure of applying the force of law to travel restrictions”.

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Level 4 Covid warning for large swathes of central Scotland
The Scottish Government is considering putting travel bans into law.

Ms Sturgeon said she had "never ruled out” introducing new laws to enforce restrictions, and had previously done so with the wearing of face masks.

She said: "But we've always encouraged voluntary compliance. I believe, and our behavioural scientists would back it up, that's it’s better to encourage and support people to do the right thing rather than use the force of law when they do the wrong thing, but we haven't ruled it out and I think that's a responsible approach for any government to take."

Earlier Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that travel restrictions remained “essential to a targeted approach to tackling the virus”.

She said: “These will remain in guidance over the next week, but we continue to prepare the regulations, and resolve the practical issues, that would be required to put them into law.

"We will not hesitate to do that if we think it necessary. However, please abide by them now so that it doesn’t become necessary. Abiding by restrictions like these is hard - but it is essential if we are to avoid spreading the virus from high prevalence areas to lower prevalence areas.”

The restrictions mean that people living in a level three council area cannot travel outside the local authority boundary unless for essential reasons such as work that can’t be done at home, healthcare, or caring responsibilities. People outside level three areas should not travel into them unless for the same reasons.”

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