Andy Burnham blasts SNP for hypocrisy over Covid travel ban

The Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, has accused the Scottish government of “hypocrisy” after it announced a travel ban to parts of the north-west.

Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday all non-essential travel to Manchester and Salford would be banned from Monday, with the Labour mayor saying the move came “out of the blue”.

Burnham said the SNP had treated Manchester with “contempt” by bringing in the ban without any consultation.

“That is exactly what the SNP always accuse the Westminster government of doing, riding roughshod over people,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. “The SNP are treating the north of England with the same contempt in bringing that in without any consultation with us.”

He added: “I just think it’s double standards, it’s hypocrisy.”

The first minister pinpointed the areas as Covid-19 hotspots, despite figures in the cities matching case rates in parts of Scotland.

She said travel would be prohibited “between Scotland and those cities” to “minimise the risk of either exacerbating the situation there or indeed allowing more virus to come back here to Scotland”.

“Anyone travelling elsewhere in the Greater Manchester or Lancashire area, I’d ask to think carefully about whether your journey is really necessary, because we do see cases rising across that region,” Sturgeon said.

Non-essential travel is already banned from Scotland to Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen.

Burnham said he would be seeking financial compensation from the Scottish government for people who are affected by the new rules.

“I’ll be writing to the first minister today,” he said. “I’ll be asking for compensation for the individuals who might lose holidays and the businesses who might lose bookings.

“Why should a couple from Salford who are double-jabbed who are about to go on a walking holiday in Scotland not be able to go?

“It’s completely disproportionate in my view – we could have come up with a different arrangement if the first minister had been in touch with us.”

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Scotland’s trade minister, Ivan McKee, said the decision had to be made quickly.

“Andy Burnham … is going to write to the first minister about it, that’s absolutely fine and I’m sure there will be a conversation about how we can keep him better informed in future.”

Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish conservatives, said the law introducing the restrictions was made on Thursday morning. “There was 24 hours that passed before anyone in Greater Manchester knew of a decision taken by the Scottish government a day earlier.”

Burnham said he thought a “huge amount of work” was being done to contain the Delta variant in the region, adding “I think we are coming through this”.

“Look at Bolton – you can see real encouragement there. Where the work went in, the case numbers have been turned around and they’ve got now quite a significant decrease,” he said. “I’m very sure that we’ll see the same in the rest of Greater Manchester.”

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