Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd December 2020.

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The First Minister:

I will just be clear on one point, because I am aware that how I express this might give rise to a misleading impression. It is not the case that the travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK is in place only on Christmas day; it is in place for the foreseeable future, including on Christmas day. The travel restrictions are being lifted on Christmas day in Scotland—although we are encouraging people not to travel to meet indoors, if at all possible—but that does not apply to travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

It is, of course, an operational matter for the chief constable to decide how and to what extent to enforce the law. Obviously, I have discussed that with the chief constable, who joined me yesterday for the daily update. He has decided to double patrols and has set out clearly the approach that the police will take. I have confidence in the ability of the police to enforce the law where necessary, just as they have with regulations throughout the pandemic. It is not for me to comment on policing on the English side of the border, but I am sure that the police there are also cognisant of the arrangements.

My last point—it is a point that I made yesterday and will continue to make—is that people should abide by the restrictions not because they are likely to get stopped by the police if they do not, but because the restrictions are there to keep us all safe. I think that when we put on a seat belt when we get in a car these days, not many of us do so only in case we are caught not wearing a seat belt. We do it because we know that it could save our lives. People should see the travel restrictions in the same way. They are a tough aspect of what we are being asked to do right now, but they are necessary in order to stop, as far as we can, any more of the new strain of the virus coming into Scotland, just as all the difficult things to suppress it are necessary.