Covid Scotland: John Swinney hits back at Andy Burnham over Greater Manchester Mayor’s demands for Scottish Government to pay compensation to people affected by travel ban

John Swinney has defended the Scottish Government’s decision to implement a last-minute ban of people entering the nation from certain parts of England – insisting the restriction, which takes effect today, is needed to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
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It comes after Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham accused the Scottish Government of “hypocrisy” over a travel ban to the area – and said he would be demanding compensation.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister said it had acted within the realms of what the public would expect from them after it announced on Friday that residents from Greater Manchester and Salford have been temporarily banned from travelling to Scotland and vice versa.

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Speaking on the Today programme, Mr Swinney 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.”

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When questioned about the last-minute nature of the ban, he added: “That is something we will reflect on but we put in place very similar provisions in relation to Bolton, which is part of the Greater Manchester area, back in May, and we’ve just followed exactly the same approach in relation to this decision.”

Swinney went on to say that Greater Manchester Mayor Burnham’s call for compensation is not “a relevant point”.

Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney  at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney  at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.
Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.
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“We obviously face many challenges in the suppression of coronavirus,” Mr Swinney said.

“We have in place, in Scotland, business support that we have made available to companies to try and sustain them, there will be support in place in England for exactly the same circumstances.

“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.”

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