[ENT] Coronavirus UK: Police WON’T set up road blocks to enforce Scotland border crossing ban

Drivers who cross the border face a £60 fine BUT police won’t set up road blocks and say ‘enforcement’ is a last resort 

Are all people banned from leaving or entering Scotland from 6pm tonight? 

Yes, apart from a small number of exemptions.

Nicola Sturgeon’s legislation demands that any person living in Scotland must not enter England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland from tonight.

The First Minister has also made it illegal for people living in those countries to enter Scotland.

Anyone breaching the rules will be fined £60, she says. 

There are some exemptions including leaving Scotland to take a driving test, feeding an animal, donating blood or for some work, education and health reasons.

Will police be setting up road blocks? 

No road blocks will be set up and police say they will not be patrolling the border looking for people breaking the law.

Instead they will enforce the new law if they come across transgressors in the ‘course of duty’. 

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs says they want people to ‘do the right thing’.

He added: ‘We will use enforcement as a last resort where there is a clear breach of the legislation.

‘The chief constable has said publicly on numerous occasions that we will not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks, and that will not change as a result of travel restrictions now being in law.

‘However, officers may in the course of their duties come across people who are travelling from one local authority area to another. In areas where travel restrictions apply, officers will continue to use the common sense, discretion and excellent judgement that they have applied since the crisis began.’

Two million Scots were tonight plunged into a draconian Level Four lockdown, as police insisted they won’t set up a patrol to enforce plans to make crossing the border illegal. 

Entering or leaving Scotland with no reasonable excuse was banned from 6pm today and anyone caught doing so could now be hit with a £60 fine. 

People living within Level Three or Level Four lockdown areas – which includes vast swathes of central Scotland – are also not permitted to leave their area. 

And in Level Four, which includes Glasgow, all non-essential shops have tonight been forced to close.

But some experts claim the rules on not crossing the border cannot be legally put in place by the Scottish parliament, with one MP warning: ‘Any self-respecting lawyer would advise a client not to pay a fine.’

Scots today made a last-minute dash for Christmas shopping ahead of the implementation of the tough measures – but busy streets were soon abandoned as the clock struck 6pm and the restrictions came into force. 

At the Berwick border in Northumberland, police made no moves to actively enforce the crossing ban while traffic continued to flow slowly between England and Scotland. 

Around 15 miles away in the village of Coldstream, it appeared to be a normal evening in the Borders as cars and lorries continued to pass through.    

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: ‘This Government travel ban looks like a poorly conceived and ill-considered piece of legislation rather than the evidence-based intervention we need.

‘It risks uneven application and, as a result, uneven treatment across Scotland and the risk is this uncertainty will eat away at the trust of the public.’

Meanwhile Cumbria Police confirmed to MailOnline they would not be conducting border checks and would expect anyone travelling to England to comply with the English lockdown rules currently in place.

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As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon faced a growing backlash over the new rules, in other developments:

  • Scotland has recorded 32 deaths from coronavirus and 1,018 positive tests in the past 24 hours;
  • There was a mass rush to the shops in areas entering Level 4 lockdown as families tried to do their Christmas shopping before the new rules begin;
  • Nicola Sturgeon is considering whether tougher curbs will be necessary in January as a result of relaxing lockdown rules at Christmas;
  • Ministers said they hope to vaccinate one million Scots against coronavirus by the end of January in the biggest immunisation programme ever. 

Ms Sturgeon announced the latest restrictions for Scotland on Tuesday in yet another attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.

However, a list of bizarre exceptions to the rules have been put in place which would allow the travel rules to be breached. 

Scots are permitted to leave the country – or their locked down area – to feed an animal, donate blood or take a driving test. Exemptions to the travel ban also apply for more common essential travel reasons, including for health, work or for school.

Gill and Iain Dickson, who live in the border village of Coldstream, Scotland were tonight careful not to cross the border line into England as they usually would while on their evening stroll. 

The pair, in their mid-50s, are in favour of the travel ban despite the restrictions meaning they will not be able to see their daughters, who live in England, for three weeks.

Mrs Dickson said tonight: ‘I technically can’t see my daughters for three weeks now. That will make a difference for me but we’ve kept a close eye on it all from the beginning. 

‘People are generally quite happy around here with [the restrictions], but there are a lot of people who work and cross the border. There will still be cross-border traffic.’ 

Her husband added: ‘I think if people had just behaved themselves, stayed on the area and do what they were asked to do instead of moving around, they wouldn’t have caused the problem. I think it’s absolutely right to do it.’

However, some passing through the border at Berwick ahead of the 6pm cut-off did not share their positive views.

Two million Scots were tonight plunged into a draconian Level Four lockdown, as police say they won’t set up a patrol to enforce plans to make crossing the border illegal. Pictured: Glasgow tonight

Shops on Glasgow's Buchanan Street went silent as the city moved into Level Four lockdown alongside swathes of Scotland

Shops on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street went silent as the city moved into Level Four lockdown alongside swathes of Scotland

Entering or leaving Scotland with no reasonable excuse was banned from 6pm today and anyone caught doing so could now be hit with a £60 fine. Pictured: Glasgow tonight

Entering or leaving Scotland with no reasonable excuse was banned from 6pm today and anyone caught doing so could now be hit with a £60 fine. Pictured: Glasgow tonight

A pedestrian walks past a shop in Glasgow preparing to shut as Scotland's latest coronavirus restrictions were imposed

A pedestrian walks past a shop in Glasgow preparing to shut as Scotland’s latest coronavirus restrictions were imposed

Who is top of the UK coronavirus chart? England has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections, according to official data, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

Who is top of the UK coronavirus chart? England has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections, according to official data, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

People living within Level Three or Level Four lockdown areas - which includes vast swathes of central Scotland - are also not permitted to leave their area

People living within Level Three or Level Four lockdown areas – which includes vast swathes of central Scotland – are also not permitted to leave their area

Mark Watt, who was in Berwick visiting an ill relative, said he didn’t understand how people crossing the border can be policed. He faces a 220-mile trip back to his home in Aberdeenshire on Sunday, two days after the closure.  

‘They can’t really stop you,’ he said. ‘People cross the border for a lot of reasons. 

‘However, you probably shouldn’t be leaving your area to do non-essential things like shopping. I’m only down here visiting a relative who is very poorly, it’s probably the last time I’ll see her. ‘ 

Mr Watt, 52, added: ‘Unless they stop every car and ask about their reason for crossing, how are they going to police it? 

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‘A lot of people have genuine reasons for crossing the border, I’ll be crossing it one way or the other to get home.’ 

Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins, who is also a professor of law at Glasgow University, admitted there are ‘serious legal questions to be asked about the draft regulations published by the Scottish Government’: ‘Which include rules about who may “enter and remain in” Scotland.’  

He added: ‘These rules appear to affect British and Irish citizens across the UK and Ireland. Is this within Holyrood’s competence? For one thing, freedom of movement would appear to be expressly reserved to the UK Parliament under the Scotland Act.’

Members of staff leave after the closure of the Argyle Arcade shopping centre on Buchanan Street in central Glasgow, ahead of the introduction of further coronavirus restrictions tonight

Members of staff leave after the closure of the Argyle Arcade shopping centre on Buchanan Street in central Glasgow, ahead of the introduction of further coronavirus restrictions tonight

Eleven local council areas in Scotland moved into Level 4 restrictions from 6pm on Friday to slow the spread of coronavirus

Eleven local council areas in Scotland moved into Level 4 restrictions from 6pm on Friday to slow the spread of coronavirus

Staff chat as they leave a shop as it closes in Glasgow as new restrictions banning travel between England and Scotland come into place

Staff chat as they leave a shop as it closes in Glasgow as new restrictions banning travel between England and Scotland come into place

Members of the public rush to finish some last-minute Christmas shopping as the level four rules came into force tonight

Members of the public rush to finish some last-minute Christmas shopping as the level four rules came into force tonight

A member of staff waits to close the Argyll Arcade as the Level Four rules came into force in Glasgow tonight

A member of staff waits to close the Argyll Arcade as the Level Four rules came into force in Glasgow tonight

Gill and Iain Dickson (pictured), who live in the border village of Coldstream, Scotland were tonight careful not to cross the border line into England as they usually would while on their evening stroll

Gill and Iain Dickson (pictured), who live in the border village of Coldstream, Scotland were tonight careful not to cross the border line into England as they usually would while on their evening stroll

‘For another, it’s not clear that the Scottish parliament can make rules contrary to the common travel area, as agreed to by the UK and Ireland.

‘It’s not at all clear if the draft regulations published today are within the remit of the Scottish parliament. There are, at least, grave doubts about the legal competence to act in the way Scottish ministers propose.’

Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles warned that ‘any self-respecting lawyer would advise a client not to pay a fine’ while Mr Leonard slammed the ban as ‘deeply flawed’.

The Scottish Labour leader added: ‘People want a government that works with them, not against them, on things such as the travel restrictions.

‘As things stand, the best-case scenario is that the travel ban will confuse them; the worst-case scenario is that it will criminalise them.’ 

Christmas shoppers out and about in the rain on Buchanan Street in Glasgow today. Eleven local council areas in Scotland will move into Level 4 restrictions from 6pm this evening

Christmas shoppers out and about in the rain on Buchanan Street in Glasgow today. Eleven local council areas in Scotland will move into Level 4 restrictions from 6pm this evening

Cars pass a coronavirus warning sign on the eastbound M8 motorway in Glasgow today

Cars pass a coronavirus warning sign on the eastbound M8 motorway in Glasgow today

Shoppers leave a Smyths Toys shop with their purchases in Glasgow today ahead of the tough new restrictions

Shoppers leave a Smyths Toys shop with their purchases in Glasgow today ahead of the tough new restrictions

Hundreds of shoppers queue at Ikea's store in Straiton, Edinburgh, after it was confirmed that shoppers from higher-tier areas, including would no longer be able to travel to the store, which is in Midlothian which is dropping to tier 2. (c) Dave Johnston

Hundreds of shoppers queued at IKEA’s Edinburgh store in Straiton today, after it was confirmed that shoppers from higher-tier areas, including Edinburgh, Fife and West Lothian, would no longer be able to travel to the store, which is in Midlothian which is dropping to tier 2

People do some last-minute shopping in Glasgow today before level four rules come into force

People do some last-minute shopping in Glasgow today before level four rules come into force

Shoppers leave a Smyths Toys shop with their purchases in Glasgow today ahead of the introduction of further coronavirus restrictions

Shoppers leave a Smyths Toys shop with their purchases in Glasgow today ahead of the introduction of further coronavirus restrictions

Shoppers queue to enter a Smyths Toys shop in Glasgow today while others leave with gifts

Shoppers queue to enter a Smyths Toys shop in Glasgow today while others leave with gifts

Members of the public do some last-minute shopping at Lush in Glasgow this afternoon

Members of the public do some last-minute shopping at Lush in Glasgow this afternoon

Scotland’s Level 0-4 system, how it works:

Level 0: As close to normal as possible. Broadly in line with the situation in Scotland in August when the virus was suppressed but still around. At this level people can meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open safety measures in place.

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Level 1: Household meetings reduced to six people from two households but a reasonable degree of normality overall.

Level 2: Limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people’s homes.

Level 3: Much of hospitality being closed completely. But restaurants able to be open ‘at least partially’.

Level 4: Closer to a full lockdown, with non-essential shops closed. But six people from up two households could still meet outdoors. 

The travel regulations, published yesterday, only a day before they came into force, set out restrictions between Scotland an other parts of the common travel area: England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Under the heading ‘restrictions on leaving Scotland’, the regulations state that ‘a person who lives in Scotland must not leave Scotland for the purpose of entering or remaining in a place within the common travel area’.

Speaking about people crossing the border to England, a spokesman for Cumbria Police said today: ‘Anyone travelling to England must comply with the English Regulations.

‘This means that they must have a valid reason for leaving their home e.g. work, study, shopping for essentials, exercise and they must abide by other regulations including not staying overnight away from their home.

‘The same applies for people from England travelling to Scotland so anybody travelling to Scotland must make themselves aware of the Regulations in the area of Scotland they intend to travel to.

‘Cumbria police are not conducting any sort of border checks and will continue to us the 4E approach to compliance, using Enforcement regardless of where people may have started their journey.’

The restrictions on entering Scotland say: ‘A person who lives in a place within the common travel area mentioned in paragraph 4 must not enter or remain in Scotland’.

However, the regulations do set out that travel can take place ‘in order to reach a place outwith Scotland’. 

Dr Nick McKerrell, a senior lecturer in law at Glasgow Caledonian University and an expert in human rights law, told the Scotsman: ‘Public health is a long-standing reason for state intervention limiting individuals’ human rights.

Lyndsey McDermott moves a notice board describing social distance measures at her Christmas Shop, Tinsel & Tartan, in Stirling today. The shop will close today due to latest restrictions with her online business to continue

Lyndsey McDermott moves a notice board describing social distance measures at her Christmas Shop, Tinsel & Tartan, in Stirling today. The shop will close today due to latest restrictions with her online business to continue

Members of the public wear face coverings outside Tinsel & Tartan in Stirling today

Members of the public wear face coverings outside Tinsel & Tartan in Stirling today

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh yesterday

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh yesterday

‘However, the big difference with a legal enforcement of a travel ban within local authority boundaries are that for it to be operationally possible, it requires giving arbitrary powers to the police to stop random cars.

‘This is something we do not allow in our law for drink driving offences – there needs to be a reason that the police stop the car.

‘What sort of drivers will be stopped under the travel ban? People driving late at night? People driving near local authority boundaries? People whose cars are registered outwith the area they are travelling in? No one knows. It is in that legal climate that abuse of human rights becomes more likely.

‘The law when published will need to be explicitly clear on what precise power it is giving to police officers.’ 

Shoppers on Buchanan Street in Glasgow go Christmas shopping yesterday evening

Shoppers on Buchanan Street in Glasgow go Christmas shopping yesterday evening

Northern Ireland will extend hospitality shutdown

Stormont’s leaders have defended new lockdown measures for Northern Ireland in the face of a furious backlash from businesses.

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First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill confirmed the imposition of a strict two-week circuit break that will see non-essential retail outlets added to a closure list that already includes much of the hospitality sector.

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The strict clampdown, which is close to the severity of March’s lockdown with the exception that schools will remain open, will come into effect next Friday.

Despite highlighting the need for tough measures to prevent the health service being overwhelmed, the executive allowed several relaxations that were agreed last week to go ahead on Friday, with coffee shops and close-contact services such as hairdressers reopening.

Those business will be forced to close again next Friday when the ramped-up lockdown is introduced.

The latest announcement by the executive has been widely criticised by business representatives, who have accused the administration of mishandling the pandemic response and failing to provide sufficient financial support to help struggling firms.

The restrictions agreed by the executive late on Thursday are more severe than proposals that were vetoed by the DUP last week, prompting rivals to accused the party of a major U-turn.

The proposals tabled by Health Minister Robin Swann last week led to four days of bitter in-fighting among executive ministers, with the DUP pitted against the other four executive parties.

Mr Swann returned with proposals for even tougher restrictions at Thursday’s meeting, warning that if they were not implemented, not even a full lockdown in mid-December would save the region’s hospitals from being overwhelmed.

This time the DUP joined the other parties in supporting the steps.

Today, First Minister Arlene Foster justified her party’s change in stance, insisting it had responded to worsening medical and scientific evidence – namely a rise in the infection rate (R number) to above 1.

A Scottish government spokesman told the Guardian that the regulations are ‘entirely within the remit of the Scottish parliament’.

They added: ‘Restrictions on unnecessary travel are in place in law in various forms in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and in many parts of Europe. In Scotland they are necessary to underpin an approach that puts different parts of the country under different levels of protective measures.’

The First Minister added: ‘In a situation like this, it is absolutely incumbent on somebody like me to do my level best to do the right things and the necessary things, even if these are not always popular or welcome things.

‘I would be failing in my responsibility if I didn’t do that on travel restrictions.’

The UK yesterday recorded 22,915 new cases – a drop of 31.5 per cent compared to last week – and 501 deaths, a drop of 11 per cent.

Of those, 1,089 cases were in Scotland, while 50 deaths were reported north of the border.

Eleven council areas in West Central Scotland, with a total population of 2.3million, enter Level 4 lockdown from 6pm today.

All non-essential shops as well as pubs, restaurants, cafes, swimming pools, gyms and tourist attractions will be forced to shut.

Last night, shoppers flocked to their local highstreets to enjoy one last hit of non-essential shopping before the rules kick in.

Pictures showed vast swathes of locals taking advantage of the shops before they – along with gyms and beauty salons – have to close their doors.

What was previously guidance asking Scots to avoid travel into or out of Level 3 or Level 4 areas will now be put into law, with a £60 fine levied against those who break the rules.

And yesterday, MSPs voted by 99 to 23 to back the restrictions. The parliamentary debate was not to approve or reject the changes, but to express the support of the parliament for the regulations.

An amendment by the Conservatives, which was voted down by 71 votes to 51, called for the Scottish Government to publish evidence for the move into the highest level of restrictions.

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Scottish Labour attempted to amend the Government motion to strip away the travel ban and push for mass testing and improvements to Test and Protect, but MSPs rejected the amendment by 99 to 22.

A Green amendment pushing the Scottish Government to improve support for self-isolating people also passed unanimously.

Closing the debate, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: ‘Despite some of the differences of opinion that have been shared this afternoon, I am in no doubt … we all have a shared objective of seeking to suppress the virus as best we can and to manage our country through the course of this pandemic as best we can.’ 

Coronavirus rules in Scotland

Coronavirus rules in Scotland

Under the Scottish government’s coronavirus restrictions all non-essential shops must close in Level Four areas while travel is restricted to essential journeys only

Scotland coronavirus rules

Scotland coronavirus rules

Under the Scottish government’s coronavirus restrictions people in Level Four areas are not allowed to meet people from other households indoors but they can meet outdoors

Tory MSP Donald Cameron said: ‘We have not yet heard of the justification for maintaining a Level 4 lockdown for three weeks and the Scottish Government has not shared any evidence as to why that particular length of time.

Scotland records 32 deaths and 1,018 positive tests for Covid-19 in the past 24 hours

Scotland has recorded 32 deaths from coronavirus and 1,018 positive tests in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon said.

Speaking during the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, the First Minister said the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – has risen to 3,459.

Ms Sturgeon said the daily test positivity rate is 4.8 per cent, up from 4.6 per cent on the previous day.

A total of 86,630 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 85,612. Of the new cases, 391 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 162 in Lanarkshire, and 123 in Lothian.

There are 1,234 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by 22 in 24 hours. Of these patients, 88 are in intensive care, up by three.

‘I wonder if they would commit to that three-week time span as an absolute maximum period and enshrining that end date in law.’

Mr Cameron also pointed out there has been a ban in Glasgow, East Renfewshire and West Dunbartonshire on household mixing since September 1.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie fought back tears as he paid tribute to those, including his own mother, who had volunteered for vaccine trials, whom he said had put themselves on the ‘biological front line’ to the applause of fellow MSPs.

He added: ‘We should pay immense respect to those many people, because if we as a parliament can show the same selflessness in the way that we do our work to keep our country safe as they have shown, we’ll be not doing too badly.’

The Transport Secretary thanked Mr Harvie’s mother in his closing speech.

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie looked back to the summer, where Scotland saw several weeks without a single death of someone confirmed to have coronavirus, claiming that the work was not done during this time, including the testing of people without symptoms, to ensure these restrictions would not be necessary.

He said: ‘The Government opposed – and I use that word wisely – mass asymptomatic testing, they believed that a negative test would make people relax and ignore the rules.’

Mr Rennie said that the Scottish Government did not increase testing capacity as a result of this, but praised that ministers now agree asymptomatic testing is necessary, adding that they are now ‘rushing to catch up’. 

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