A rise in the prevalence of Delta variant cases has led to travel restrictions being placed on Manchester and Salford.
The new rules on travel between Scotland and the neighbouring north west cities come into effect on Monday 21st June.
It is part of wider measures put in place to prevent variants of concern being brought into Scotland from areas with high cases of COVID-19 Delta variant.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said:
“Nobody wants travel restrictions in place for any longer than is absolutely necessary.
“Placing restrictions on travel between Scotland and Manchester and Salford has only been taken after extremely careful consideration and analysis of data to help prevent the spread of variants of concern.”
The changes are set out in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.
Restrictions have been maintained on Blackburn, Darwen and Bolton. Restrictions that were in place on Bedford and the Republic of Ireland have been removed.
The Manchester / Salford restrictions cover the city council areas for both cities and come into effect at midnight Sunday – effective 21 June.
- Over the past year and more, tourism businesses have consistently called for improved communication from the Scottish Government in terms of changes to Covid-19 restrictions. This is the latest example of the Scottish Government failing to engage with key stakeholders and failing to properly inform them of the changes and what it means for their sector.
- The implementation of this travel ban between Scotland and Manchester has been shambolic and the policy rationale is full of inconsistencies in their approach when parts of Scotland, including Dundee, have a higher Covid-19 case rate. It is unacceptable that the policy was decided on Thursday, announced at a televised briefing on Friday with no detail as to its scope, only then to come into force today (and will not be scrutinised by MSPs until tomorrow). There are also key questions relating to the extraterritorial effect of these rules as well as the lack of consultation with the Mayor of Greater Manchester.
- Unfortunately, the tourism sector has also been left in the dark as to what these restrictions will mean in practice. The Scottish Government need to provide urgent clarity on: (1) who will be liable for the bookings – is it the guest or the operator; and (2) whether operators will be required to issue refunds to guests.We cannot continue to be seen as insurers of last resort.
- Last week, the First Minister apologised to businesses for failing to communicate properly with them during the pandemic. If the Scottish Government want to help firms emerge from the devastating effects of the pandemic, they need to put these words into practice and listen to, and engage with, tourism businesses in Scotland, providing as much clarity and certainty as possible.