Coronavirus in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon issues travel ban to Bedford, Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen amid Covid variant surge

A temporary travel ban between Scotland and Covid hotspots in England will come into force from Monday, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the travel restrictions will apply to Bedford, Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen which are currently subject to enhanced health protection measures amid a surge in Covid cases.

Ms Sturgeon said: “If you are planning to visit these areas in the next few days please consider whether you need to make your visit or whether it can be delayed.”

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Travel ban in place between Scotland and English Covid hotspots from Monday.

She said it was hoped these rules would not be in place for very long, but added they were “a further way of helping us reduce the risk that any more of this new variant comes into Scotland while we are trying to deal with outbreaks of it we have right now”.

During a coronavirus briefing on Friday the First Minister also confirmed that Moray will move down to Level 2 restrictions, while Glasgow will remain in Level 3 for at least another week.

She said extensive public health measures were implemented across Glasgow over the last week but, despite efforts, cases continue to rise.

The Scottish government believes that this increase is partly due to the new Indian variant – which has now been renamed ‘April-02’ – in circulation.

People have been advised “please don’t be alarmed” after a new coronavirus variant was identified in the Yorkshire region.

Greg Fell, director of public health in Sheffield, said his team had been monitoring the new strain – referred to as VUI-21MAY-01 or AV.1 – after Public Health England (PHE) announced 49 cases were identified, mostly in Yorkshire and the Humber region.

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But Mr Fell stressed there is no evidence to suggest this strain is any more transmissible than other variants or that the vaccines do not work against it.

Mr Fell issued a statement as Downing Street also said the emergence of this new variant will continue to be monitored.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There have been a number of variants throughout the pandemic and there will continue to be so.

“There are three mutations of the B1617 (Indian) strain, as I think has been discussed previously, but as we do with all variants where we spot and identify them through our genomic sequencing programme, we will continue to monitor them and we will designate them as variants under investigation, and then variants of concern if we deem them to be of greater risk.

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“But again, as you’ve seen throughout the pandemic, that’s what we’ve done and we won’t hesitate to put in measures that we think are necessary to try and tackle the transmission of any variants.”

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