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MP questions legal precedent of a 'hard border' with England announced by the First Minister to tackle a new even more contagious strain of the Covid virus

By Scott Maclennan

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North MP Jamie Stone.
North MP Jamie Stone.

North politicians have given a mixed welcome to the announcement of strict new restrictions for the festive period amid a surge in cases south of the border of a highly contagious new strain of the Covid virus.

North MP Jamie Stone questioned the move to enforce a legal border in Scotland that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said was to stop more cases of the new strain being imported to the country.

While Scottish Conservative leader MP Douglas Ross, who is running for a seat on the Highland list in May, acknowledged the changes are probably necessary, saying: "These sacrifices will save lives."

Among the measures announced by the First Minister late this afternoon were:

  • Calling on people to ramp-up their efforts to follow the rules, including hygiene, social distancing and not visiting other households
  • A ban on travelling to other parts of the UK over the festive period
  • Mainland Scotland will enter Tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day for three weeks
  • School holidays extended to January 11, followed by online learning

Tier 4 restrictions will see pubs, bars, gyms, restaurants and all non-essential shops close for the duration.

Mr Ross said: “Families across Scotland will be devastated at these new measures, especially so close to Christmas.

“However, given the rapidly increasing spread of the virus across the UK, and until our scientists know more about the transmission of this new variant, it is understandable why these restrictions are necessary at this time.

“None of us want this, but these sacrifices will save lives. We would expect the Scottish Government to ensure a return to regional levels of restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The veteran Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross has concerns about the “legal precedent” of a hard border with England as well fears for those going without financial support.

"I’m sending all my love to families who cannot be together for Christmas,” he said. “It’s utterly heartbreaking and I know it’s particularly painful for businesses and all those excluded from financial support.

“Whilst we should do what we can to stop the spread of the virus, I’m concerned about the First Minister’s determination to set up a legal precedent that puts up a hard border in Scotland.

"In my view, strong advice about travel restriction should suffice.

“This is no time to play party politics, but very much a time for all four UK nations to work together. Erecting borders sets a precedent I simply do not feel comfortable with.

“It’s not easy. What I want to say to everyone is stay strong, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get in contact with me if you need to.”

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