Many Scots may not see family 'for some time' Nicola Sturgeon warns

Family reunions with relatives living further away may not be able to go ahead in the near future.Family reunions with relatives living further away may not be able to go ahead in the near future.
Family reunions with relatives living further away may not be able to go ahead in the near future.
Scots with family in other parts of the country – or elsewhere in the UK – may not be able to meet up with their loved ones for some time, due to ongoing travel bans, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said that travel may be restricted for some time to come in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, leaving people who do not live close to their extended family unable to meet up with them.

Previous remarks she has made which alluded to “greater family contact”, gave many hope that it would not be long before they could be reunited with family living further afield, even if tourism businesses such as hotels were not allowed to open.

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Strict travel restrictions, banning Scots from leaving their own local authority area, have been in place since the end of last year, meaning that many people have not seen close relatives for months.

Speaking at today’s daily coronavirus briefing, she said: “I can’t give a guarantee about when we’ll lift travel restrictions right now. People who’ve heard me will know that travel restrictions for a period may be one of the most important protections we’ve got to keep the virus low.

"When we talk about family contact, it may not be all forms of family contact immediately, care home visits are an area we’ve said we want to prioritise, perhaps outdoor over that, but we want to do as much as possible.”

In a statement to parliament earlier this week, she said: “[The framework] will continue to prioritise education, followed by greater family contact and the phased re-opening of the economy, probably with non essential retail starting to open first.”

Ms Sturgeon said earlier this week that she advised Scots against booking Easter holidays, warning that she may not allow the tourism industry to open hotels and self catering accommodation by then.

She said: “However, for the summer, while it is still highly unlikely that overseas holidays will be possible or advisable, staycations might be - but this will depend on the data nearer the time.”

The Scottish Government has been firm on measures such as hotel quarantine in a bid to keep out new variants of the coronavirus. Unlike the rest of the UK, all visitors to Scotland from any country have to isolate for ten days in a designated quarantine hotel and undergo testing. In England and Wales, only travellers from “red zone” countries need to isolate in quarantine hotels.

Variants – apart from the so-called UK variant – have been found in other parts of the UK, where authorities have carried out “surge testing” to track down other cases and stop community spread. This has so far not been deemed to be necessary in Scotland, where a small number of cases of the South African variant have been found, but all linked to travel.

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The Scottish Government is due to publish a framework in two weeks time, which it said would plot “a gradual route back to greater normality”.

However, current stringent lockdown measures are expected to be in place until at least the beginning of March - and possibly for a further period beyond that.

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