'Don't go to Blackpool', FM tells Scots holidaymakers

The first minister has urged people to avoid travelling to Blackpool - after dozens of Covid-19 cases linked with tourists from Scotland.

In the last month about 180 people who live in Scotland have mentioned a recent visit to Blackpool to contact tracers, after testing positive for coronavirus.

The first minister says this does not necessarily mean they all caught the virus in the town, but it is mentioned in contact tracing much more often than any other location outside Scotland.

At her daily briefing she said: "Blackpool, a place that many Scots love and like to visit, particularly at this time of year, many of us have happy childhood memories of going to see the Blackpool illuminations - this is one of the places currently classed by the UK Government as a high-risk area.

"And I need to advise you that trips to Blackpool are now associated with a large and growing number of Covid cases in Scotland.

"We indeed now have an incident management team in Scotland that has been set up to look specifically at cases associated with Blackpool.

"And I can tell you that in total, in the last month, and these figures are rising right now so the figure I’m about to give you will undoubtedly already be out of date – the most up to date figure I can give you is that in the last month around 180 people in Scotland with Covid, reported that they had recently been in Blackpool.

"Now let me be clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they got Covid during their trip, as you heard us talk about in relation to hospitality it’s not possible to be absolutely certain where someone actually picked up the virus but Blackpool is being mentioned in Test and Protect conversations, far more than any other location outside of Scotland.

"And to take the past week in more detail, 344 people who have spoken to Test and Protect teams after contracting Covid, reported some sort of travel outside of Scotland. 252 of those had travelled somewhere else in the UK. Of those 252, now remember this is in the last week alone, well over a third – 94 in total - had been in Blackpool.

"So my specific advice is this. If you were thinking about going to Blackpool and you haven’t booked yet, then please do not go this year.

"Even more specifically – because we know this is an issue – and I want to be very clear about this - do not travel to Blackpool this weekend to watch the Old Firm match in a pub. If you do that you will be putting yourself and you will be putting other people at risk, please do not do that this weekend.

"And if you otherwise, not related to the football have already booked a trip; and you cannot cancel it without cost; and are determined to go – then please, please think very carefully indeed about how you travel, and what you do when you get there.

"For example quite a lot of people who have contracted Covid, and who have also been to Blackpool, have travelled by coach. We understand that is very common, particularly at this time of year. Now again, that does not mean that they absolutely necessarily got the virus on the coach because we can’t be certain about that.

"But if you have to travel to Blackpool by coach – or if you travel by any form of public transport - then try to maintain physical distancing, and make sure that you wear your face covering throughout the journey.

"And once you arrive and I know this is really difficult, don’t spend too much time indoors – and don’t, if you can avoid it, spend much time in pubs and bars and other hospitality venues. Because doing that significantly increases your chances of getting the virus.

"I know that many people look forward to trips generally but to Blackpool in particular in the autumn, and that for some of you – and I know that many people fall in this category it’s almost an annual ritual. But I’m asking you, if you can avoid it, please do so this October and if you do go there, if you have to go there – please be very careful."

Nicola Sturgeon has also advised against all non-essential travel generally, to other parts of Scotland or the UK.

It comes as Scotland has recorded its highest daily figure yet, with 1,429 people testing positive across Scotland yesterday, which is 16.4% of those newly tested.

A further 15 deaths among Covid-19 patients have also been registered, while 570 people are in hospital with the virus - a rise of 43 on yesterday - and 49 in ICU, up from 14 yesterday.

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