Burnham calls on Nicola Sturgeon to justify travel ban

Andy Burnham has called on Nicola Sturgeon to justify the “totally disproportionate” travel ban between the north-west of England and Scotland in an open letter.

The mayor of Greater Manchester intervened after Sturgeon extended the ban on non-essential travel – it was already in place for Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen – to Manchester and Salford on Friday.

In the letter, which was copied to all MSPs and posted on Twitter, Burnham expressed concerns about the restrictions imposed “and the manner in which they were announced.”

“It was disappointing that neither you nor your officials thought it was appropriate to contact us to discuss the proposals or provide advanced warning of the announcement,” he said.

Challenging Sturgeon to justify the non-essential travel ban policy, he added: “I would be grateful if you could set out in detail what criteria you are using.

“Why is Bolton under a travel ban today, when it has a case rate that is quite a lot lower than Dundee? How is that fair?”

🗣️ “Our 2.8 million residents deserve to be treated with due respect and proper consideration when restrictions are being implemented which will affect their lives.”

The Mayor has written to Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

Read 👇 pic.twitter.com/ohKaFLWl7Y

— Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham (@MayorofGM) June 21, 2021

Bolton’s rolling case rate for the seven days to 15 June was 269.2 cases per 100,00 people. The equivalent figure for Dundee was higher – at 318.1.

Earlier in the day, Burnham called on the Scottish government to provide compensation payments for Greater Manchester residents who had been negatively affected by the policy change.

Citing an email he had received, he said: “You know if you’re an elderly couple from Bolton and you are both double-jabbed and you haven’t seen your grandkids for two years, and all of a sudden you can’t go to your holiday cottage this week and you’re a couple of grand out of pocket, I think they are owed an explanation.

“It seems totally disproportionate to me to take that away from them.”

Defending her decision on BBC News, Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said: “These are public health measures. I have a duty – and it’s one I take very seriously – to keep Scotland as safe as possible.”

Sturgeon went on to suggest that Burnham was seeking to “generate a spat” with her in order to position himself in a future Labour leadership contest.When asked about Sturgeon’s comments, Burnham said he found the suggestion that he was primarily motivated by his own political fortunes “insulting”.

“If the first minister of a country stands up at a press conference and announces that the UK’s second city is going under a travel ban, it has an impact.

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