Sturgeon urges Scots to avoid trips to Blackpool over coronavirus cases link
Nicola Sturgeon has advised Scots against travelling to high-risk areas of England as she singled out Blackpool as “associated with a large and growing number of Covid cases in Scotland”.
Scotland’s First Minister warned Celtic and Rangers fans should not travel to Lancashire town to watch the Old Firm match in pubs on Saturday.
She added those who have not already booked a trip to the area should not now do so.
Ms Sturgeon also said she backs Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford’s move to ban entry to Wales to people from areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus by Friday if Prime Minister Boris Johnson fails to impose UK-wide travel restrictions.
She tweeted her “full support” for his decision, adding the Scottish Government “will also take whatever action we consider necessary to control Covid”.
She said she will be writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “seek urgent talks” on the issue of travel within the UK.
The First Minister said 15 deaths of confirmed coronavirus patients have been reported across Scotland in the past 24 hours and 1,429 people have tested positive.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, she said at least 180 people in Scotland who tested positive for Covid-19 in the last month reported a recent trip to Blackpool.
An incident management team had been set up to deal with those who have travelled between the town and Scotland.
“I need to advise you that trips to Blackpool are now associated with a large and growing number of Covid cases in Scotland,” the First Minister said.
“Blackpool is being mentioned in Test and Protect conversations far more than any other location outside of Scotland.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “Blackpool is a place that many Scots love and like to visit, particularly at this time of year.
“Many of us have happy childhood memories of going to see the Blackpool illuminations.”
Part of the town’s popularity in Scotland stems from the railway expansion in the 1840s, which made the affordable coastal resort an easy reach for Scots, according to tourist organisation Visit Blackpool.
She said 342 people who were contacted by Test and Protect in the past week after contracting coronavirus reported travel outside of Scotland, 252 to somewhere else in the UK and 94 to Blackpool.
We are currently advising against non-essential travel to the parts of England which are classed as very high or high alert areas
Ms Sturgeon added: “If you were thinking about going to Blackpool and haven’t booked yet then please do not go this year.
“Even more specifically, because we know this is an issue and I want to be very clear about this, do not travel to Blackpool this weekend to watch the Old Firm match in a pub.
“If you do that, you will be putting yourselves and you will be putting other people at risk.”
She urged people who could lose money on booked trips to travel very carefully, maintain physical distancing – especially on public transport – and avoid pubs.
The First Minister said: “We are currently advising against non-essential travel to the parts of England which are classed as very high or high alert areas under England’s new three-tier system.
“And I’m asking people from these areas not to travel to Scotland either.”
She said she supports Mr Drakeford’s calls for a Cobra meeting to be held “in early course”, to “discuss collectively between the four nations what further steps we can all take at this stage to suppress the virus”.
Ms Sturgeon said the death toll of people in Scotland who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days is now 2,572.
Half of the 15 new deaths reported were under the age of 80 and a “small number” were under 60, she said, warning that Covid-19 affects people from all age groups.
She said: “Please do not ever think that this virus only poses a risk to the lives of the very elderly. It poses a risk to all of us and I’m asking everybody again to take and treat that risk extremely seriously.”
Giving an update on the daily cases, she said they represent 16.4% of newly tested individuals, down from 17.2% on Tuesday.
Of the 1,429 new cases, 537 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 327 in Lanarkshire, 239 in Lothian, and 92 in Ayrshire and Arran.
A total of 42,685 people have now tested positive in Scotland.
There are 570 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by 43 in 24 hours.
Of these patients, 49 were in intensive care, up by 14.
Separately, the deaths of 25 people in Scotland from confirmed or suspected coronavirus were registered in the week up to Sunday according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS), up five on the previous week.
The NRS death toll differs from the Health Protection Scotland figures published daily by the Scottish Government as the former counts deaths when Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.
The toll under this measure is 4,301.