Manchester travel ban: Why has Scotland banned travel to Greater Manchester, what have Nicola Sturgeon and Andy Burnham said, why is it controversial?

Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday that all non-essential travel to Manchester and Salford would be banned from Monday (June 21) – a decision that has sparked much controversy.

What is the reason for the ban?

The First Minister said due to “high levels of Covid” the cities have been added to a list that already includes Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen.

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“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,” Ms Sturgeon said at Friday’s coronavirus briefing.

Meanwhile, bans on non-essential travel to the English town of Bedford and the Republic of Ireland will be removed.

What are the rules being enforced?

From Monday, there is a ban on travel between Scotland and Bedford, Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen, with Ms Sturgeon saying it would "hopefully be temporary".

Why is the ban controversial – who said what?

Non-essential travel to Manchester and Salford is banned from Monday.
Non-essential travel to Manchester and Salford is banned from Monday.

At the weekend, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham spoke out against the move, saying it was disproportionate and his administration was not contacted prior to the announcement.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister defended the move, insisting that the restriction on non-essential travel was justified by rising coronavirus cases in the Greater Manchester and Salford areas.

John Swinney was asked about the decision when he appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.

He said: “We have got to take decisions based on the data and the evidence that presents itself, and take decisions which are designed to stop the spread of the virus.

“In our judgment, the rising case numbers and the high levels of the virus in the Greater Manchester and Salford area justified the decision we took and we are taking that to try and minimise the circulation of the virus.

“We have got to take decisions based on the data that presents itself and sometimes that is very uncomfortable data for us.

“We have to act quickly to try to make sure we are doing everything possible to suppress the spread of the virus, and that is what members of the public would expect of us.”

Ms Sturgeon, meanwhile, has suggested Burnham is playing politics in the row over the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 travel ban on people from Greater Manchester entering Scotland.

She told BBC News: “These are public health measures. I have a duty, and it’s one I take very seriously, to keep Scotland as safe as possible.

“I’m sure Andy Burnham feels the same sense of duty toward people in the Greater Manchester area.

“I’ve always got on well with Andy Burnham and if he wants to have a grown-up conversation he only has to pick up the phone but if, as I suspect might be the case, this is more about generating a spat with me as part of some positioning in a Labour leadership contest in future, then I’m not interested.

“We’ve all got a serious job of work to do right now and I’m serious about doing that job in a way that keeps Scotland as safe as I possibly can.”

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