Travel limit in cross-border cluster areas to be lifted

Residents in towns and villages in south-west Scotland were told not to travel more than five miles.

Play icon CC BY-SA 2.0 by Malc McDonald

The First Minister said she is confident coronavirus travel restrictions can soon be lifted in parts of Scotland hit by a cross-border cluster of cases.

People in a number of towns and villages in Dumfries and Galloway were told not to travel more than five miles for leisure even while the limit was lifted for the rest of Scotland last week.

The Scottish Government said a “complex but small” group of cases between south-west Scotland and north-west England had affected the border towns of Gretna and Annan.

Residents of Dumfries, Lockerbie, Langholm and Canonbie were also told not to travel beyond five miles, meaning they could not visit pubs in England which reopened over the weekend.

Mobile testing has been deployed in the area to help trace people who may have been infected and visitors were not permitted at care homes.

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon said 12 cases had been identified in the cluster, with one over the weekend.

In total, 23 contacts were traced and all of those are self-isolating.

The FM said she is now “as confident as can be” the cluster is contained and added she hoped travel restrictions in the south-west could be lifted on Tuesday.

But she stressed that “this will not be the last localised outbreak we see” and warned the public should expect further local restrictions when such clusters arise.

Sturgeon said: “There will be further occasions in other parts of Scotland where we may have to ask people to restrict their activities as an outbreak is contained.

“But that’s the reality of trying to control the virus for which we have not yet any treatment and no vaccine.”

It followed controversy last week on whether quarantine could be introduced for visitors to Scotland from England.

Sturgeon has said she has no plans to implement such a policy, but refused to rule it out in future if public health advice supported it.

PM Boris Johnson branded such a proposal “astonishing and shameful” and stated there was “no such thing” as a border between Scotland and England.

A small number of pro-independence activists faced condemnation at the weekend for staging a protest at the border on the A1 calling on holidaymakers from the rest of the UK to stay home.