The Scottish government has issued draft regulations which ban entry or exit of the country without a reasonable excuse, and severely restrict travel to Scotland.
The regulations, which come into effect at 6 p.m. on Friday, have been called “deeply flawed” by opposition parties, who have said they have “serious doubts” about the competence of Scottish ministers to legislate in this way.
According to the draft document, a person living in Scotland should not travel to any other part of the Common Travel Area – England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – and neither of these places can travel in Scotland. Violation of these cross-border restrictions is punishable by a minimum fine of £ 60.
The restrictions on cross-border and domestic travel are accompanied by a long list of exemptions. A person can leave Scotland to take a driving test, feed an animal or donate blood, in addition to the more usual exemptions regarding work, education and health.
The guidelines accompanying the regulations also state that people in level 3 or 4 local authority areas – which includes much of central Scotland – “are now required to stay in this area unless they are have a reasonable excuse to travel, such as work, education or welfare reasons ”. Going on vacation, whether elsewhere in Scotland or abroad, is not considered a reasonable excuse.
Scottish Conservative MSP and public law professor Adam Tomkins said: ‘Does this fall within Holyrood’s purview? On the one hand, freedom of movement appears to be expressly reserved for the UK Parliament under Scottish law. On the other hand, it is not clear that the Scottish Parliament can enact rules contrary to the common travel area, as agreed by the UK and Ireland.
“It is not at all clear whether the draft regulation published today falls within the remit of the Scottish Parliament.”
A Scottish government spokesperson denied this, saying regulation was “entirely within the remit of the Scottish Parliament”.
“Restrictions on unnecessary travel are in place in law in various forms in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and many parts of Europe. In Scotland, they are needed to underpin an approach that places different parts of the country under different levels of protective measures ”.
Wales regulations state that travel to the country from England is not permitted without a reasonable excuse, for example to travel for business purposes. Visiting family and friends or going on vacation is not considered a reasonable excuse.
The regulations in place for England’s current lockdown state that no person can leave their home without a reasonable excuse, which includes work, exercise and education.
When asked by the Prime Minister on Thursday, Scottish Labor leader Richard Leonard called the travel ban “deeply flawed” and said: “The overwhelming majority of people are just trying to follow the regulations in order to follow them. But the best-case scenario is that this travel ban will confuse them. The worst case scenario is that it will criminalize them. “
Later Thursday, MSP Oliver Mundell resigned from the Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet in protest against the movement restrictions. He voted against the party whip in a debate in Holyrood over the new regulations over concerns over the impact of border restrictions on communities in his constituency of Dumfriesshire.
Party leader Douglas Ross said he was disappointed to see him go and appreciated that “he is only doing what he believes is best for his region”.
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