Scotland’s deputy first minister defends the Manchester travel ban decision

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The Scottish government’s decision to impose a travel ban on people entering the country from Greater Manchester has been defended by the deputy first minister. John Swinney said the restriction on non-essential travel was justified by rising coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the Greater Manchester and Salford areas.

At the weekend, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham spoke out against the move, saying it was disproportionate and his administration was not contacted prior to the announcement. Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday that all non-essential travel to Manchester and Salford would be banned from Monday.

Backing up the decision

Swinney was asked about the decision when he appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.

He 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.

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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.

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.

The deputy first minister also said Mr Burnham’s call for compensation is not “a relevant point”.

Manchester City v Everton – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Andy Burnham said his administration was not consulted on the decision (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Support and safety

He continued:

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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