NICOLA Sturgeon today said the UK Government’s plans for border restrictions “do not go far enough”, leaving gaps that could halt the suppression of the coronavirus pandemic.

The First Minister made her comment at her daily briefing ahead of an announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during which he outlined a number of potential changes coming into force in England.

From quarantine hotels, schools return and the potential progression out of lockdown, here we detail out what Boris Johnson said, and what we know to be the case in Scotland.

Border Restrictions

Boris Johnson has announced new border restrictions for travellers arriving in the UK from certain countries.

The Prime Minister told the Commons: “I want to make clear that under the stay at home regulations, it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes and we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel.

“We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.

“And in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in Government provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception.

Irvine Times:

“They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine. The Department of Health and Social Care is working to establish these facilities as quickly as possible.”

Nicola Sturgeon earlier called for a “comprehensive system of supervised quarantine” for travellers arriving in the UK and said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan “does not go far enough”.

Ms Sturgeon said she would not pre-empt the Prime Minister’s announcement, but added: “I think I do have a duty at this point to say that I am concerned that the proposal does not go far enough and I’ve made that point very strongly in the four-nations discussions that we’ve just had today.

“So while the Scottish Government will initially emulate the UK Government’s steps on enhancing quarantine arrangements, we will be seeking urgently to persuade them to go much further, and indeed to move to a comprehensive system of supervised quarantine.

“Given the obvious practical issues involved, we are very clear that our preference is to have consistent quarantine rules across the UK, but if there is no agreement to go further on a four-nations basis, we will be considering going further ourselves and we will set out any such additional measures next week.”

The return of schools

Boris Johnson said that it would not be possible for schools in England to re-open after their February half-term.

Instead, he hopes that classrooms there can reopen after March 8.

Boris Johnson told the Commons: “The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms. I know how parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible including two weeks’ notice of the return of face-to-face teaching.

“So I must inform the House that for the reasons I have outlined it will not be possible to reopen schools immediately after the February half-term.”

In Scotland, we are set to get an announcement regarding any changes to the home-schooling plan on Tuesday, February 2. 

It was previously announced by the First Minister that schools would remain closed until at least mid-February – with the announcement on Tuesday set to solidify or modify that decision.

Summer holidays

Nicola Sturgeon today told people not to book a summer foreign holiday this year.

The First Minister said control of borders was a crucial part of controlling Covid-19 and preventing further outbreaks.

Ms Sturgeon said that we must do better than last year in control of people travelling in and out of the country.

Foreign travel in summer 2020 has been listed as a major factor in re introducing Covid-19 after the it was suppressed by the first lockdown.

Irvine Times:

She said: “You should not be booking a holiday overseas.

“The best route is to suppress the virus here to as low a level as possible then control through test and protect then do much more to than we did last year to protect our borders.”

Ms Sturgeon said that we will not be able to do everything we want to ensure the virus is contained.

She repeated not going on foreign holidays and going to the pub or restaurants in the way we used to, as examples of sacrifices adults had to make.

She said it is a price that has to be paid to get children back to school and young people back to greater normality has to be a “driving priority”.

Return from lockdown

Boris Johnson told MPs that the current restrictions “do appear to have reduced the R rate”, however it is not yet clear how soon it will be safe to reopen the economy. 

However, he said the picture should “be clearer by mid-February”, adding:  “So I can tell the House that when Parliament returns from recess in the week commencing 22nd February subject to the full agreement of the House, we intend to set out the results of that review and publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown.

“That plan will of course depend on the continued success of our vaccination programme, the capacity of the NHS and on deaths falling at the pace we would expect as more people are inoculated.”

In Scotland, much like with schools the plan is to update MSPs on Tuesday, February 2. 

The current lockdown was previously extended until mid-February, however the Scottish Government have not ruled out any further extensions depending on the progress in suppressing the virus.