South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has once again challenged the First Minister on the cross-border travel ban.

Currently, it is against the law to travel over the border into England unless it is for essential purposes but the local MSP has demanded the First Minister explain why people living under level 1 and 2 restrictions in Scotland can meet up with their loved ones who live in other parts of Scotland also under the similar restrictions, but when the English lockdown lifts next week, people will not be able to do the same with loved ones living in England, even if they live in similarly low restriction areas south of the border.

Speaking during a Covid-19 level debate in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Colin Smyth asked the First Minister: “People who live in areas with restrictions at levels 1 and 2 are able to travel to other parts of Scotland that have similar levels of restriction—for example, to meet up with their loved ones.

“However, even when the lockdown south of the border is lifted in the next week, if those loved ones happen to live in England and in an area with a tier restriction that is equivalent to our level 1 or 2, travel from Scotland to meet them in England will still be against the law.

“Will the First Minister set out the science that justifies why my constituents and other people in, for example, Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Borders and East Lothian can travel within the boundaries of those areas to meet their loved ones but, if their families happen to live south of the border, it would be a criminal offence for them to visit them in England, even in an area that is covered by a tier similar to a low Scottish level?”

Speaking after the debate, he said: “The Scottish Government has once again failed to understand the unique nature of the South of Scotland.

“Like everyone else, people in border communities have family and friends living a few miles from them who they would like to visit in a safe way. However, for them, their relatives happen to live over the border. So when lockdown ends in England next week and even if that part of England is in a similar low restriction level, they still won’t be able to see them because it would be deemed ‘not essential’ and therefore illegal. It is one rule for families with loved ones in Scotland but another if they have family south of the border.”

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