Nicola Sturgeon has told Scots not to travel to Blackpool and other high-risk areas of England after almost 200 cases in Scotland were linked to the holiday seaside town.
Scotland’s First Minister warned Celtic and Rangers fans that they should not travel to the Lancashire town to watch the Old Firm match in pubs on Saturday as it had been linked to ‘a large and growing number of Covid cases in Scotland’.
At least 180 people in Scotland who tested positive for Covid-19 in the last month reported a recent trip to Blackpool, Sturgeon told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing today.
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.
Scotland’s First Minister warned Celtic and Rangers fans that they should not travel to Blackpool, Lancashire, to watch the Old Firm match in pubs on Saturday
Blackpool has seen total of 1,967 confirmed covid-19 cases since the pandemic begun, with 25,259 across Lancashire (including Blackpool and Blackburn).
In the week of October 5 to 11 alone Glasgow City Council counted 1,712 positive cases.
A total of 42,685 people have now tested positive in Scotland.
An incident management team had been set up to deal with those who have travelled between Blackpool and Scotland.
Sturgeon also said she was asking those from high-risk areas of England, in tier one or two, ‘not to travel to Scotland either.’
She has joined Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford’s call for the UK Government to introduce travel restrictions on movement between areas of high prevalence into other UK nations.
Sturgeon said 342 people who were contacted by Test and Protect in the past week after contracting coronavirus reported travel outside of Scotland, and 94 to Blackpool
The Welsh Government today said they would attempt to prevent people living in Covid hotspots in the rest of Britain from travelling to Wales from Friday.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford today said the move was necessary ‘to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK’.
Mr Drakeford added the action was being taken after Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to reply to two letters requesting he introduce the measure across the UK.
Sturgeon added that she would be writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ‘seek urgent talks’ on the issue.
Addressing her nation today the First Minister said: ‘I need to advise you that trips to Blackpool are now associated with a large and growing number of Covid cases in Scotland.
‘Blackpool is being mentioned in Test and Protect conversations far more than any other location outside of Scotland.’
This year to help boost the tourism trade, which has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Blackpool Illuminations will remain on display until January,
People wearing face masks play games in an amusement arcade on October 06, 2020 in Blackpool, England
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.
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.’
A street vendor sells illuminated souvenirs on October 06, 2020 in Blackpool, England
Blackpool, 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.
She urged people who could lose money on booked trips to travel very carefully, maintain physical distancing – especially on public transport – and avoid pubs.
Blackpool Council leaders and business representatives have defended its Covid-19 safety, pointing out the Lancashire seaside town, which welcomes more than a million Scottish visitors a year, has lower coronavirus rates than many areas north of the border.
They say there do not appear to be similar problems with visitors from elsewhere in the UK.
Blackpool was placed in the Tier 2 ‘high’ category when new restrictions system came into force in England on Wednesday.
Blackpool has seen total of 1,967 confirmed covid-19 cases since the pandemic begun, with 25,259 across Lancashire (including Blackpool and Blackburn)
Blackpool was placed in the Tier 2 ‘high’ category when new restrictions system came into force in England on Wednesday
Jane Cole, vice-president of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and managing director of Blackpool Transport, said: ‘The rate of Covid-19 in Blackpool currently stands at 218 per 100,000, which is one the lowest in the north-west of England and is also lower than parts of Scotland.
‘We get 17 million visitors a year to Blackpool and have not seen outbreaks in the rest of the UK from visitors to Blackpool, nor are we experiencing outbreaks within our tourism businesses.
‘Blackpool has stringent Covid secure measures in place. The council visits its hotels, venues and attractions on a regular basis to ensure all are Covid compliant.’
She added: ‘As mentioned by the First Minister, evidence suggests that many of these current cases are linked to coach parties and coach travel. We are asking everyone not to travel when they are symptomatic.’
Sturgeon also 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’.
The rate of Covid-19 in Blackpool currently stands at 218 per 100,000, which is one the lowest in the north-west of England and is also lower than parts of Scotland
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 per cent of newly tested individuals, down from 17.2 per cent 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.