THE First Minister schooled Tory MSP Oliver Mundell this afternoon after he attempted to score “constitutional points” over possible travel restrictions for people from Covid hotspots.

The Welsh government is banning people from high-risk areas across the UK from travelling to the country, a policy which Scottish ministers could replicate.

Nicola Sturgeon and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford have indicated these kinds of measures could be brought in if public health evidence suggests it is necessary.

The Tory MSP reignited a row from earlier this year over Scottish travel restrictions, which Tories have long insisted would be “reckless” and “divisive”.

Mundell, who represents the Dumfriesshire constituency, asked a question at today’s virtual FMQs just two weeks on from being kicked out of the Holyrood Chamber for calling Sturgeon a liar.

He said: “I know the First Minister’s comments about avoiding high-risk areas elsewhere in the UK, but will she guarantee today that whatever public health decisions the Government take that my constituents who live and work on both sides of the Border will continue to be free to travel to England and back where such travel would otherwise be permitted if it was undertaken solely within Scotland.

“And does she agree with me that attempting to close internal borders within the United Kingdom causes significant concern and anxiety for many?”

The First Minister replied quickly: “A global pandemic causes significant anxiety and concern for many and I think what people, the vast majority of people, look to their governments to do is take whatever action they deem is necessary to keep people safe from an infectious virus and stop people dying.

“These are not constitutional debates or decisions, they are not political debates or decisions, and I would really encourage everybody not to see them in that way.”

Referring to the decision made by the Labour-run Welsh government, she went on: “The first minister of Wales is not a known nationalist. He doesn’t support independence for Wales, but he understands the public health importance of making sure that people from high-prevalence areas in other parts of the UK don’t travel into Wales and vice versa.

READ MORE: WATCH: Oliver Mundell kicked out of Chamber for calling Nicola Sturgeon a liar 

“I understand that in the Scottish context and I hope across the country – I wrote to the Prime Minister last night looking for four-nations discussions so we can come to a common-sense agreement on how where necessary we restrict travel to keep people safe.

“Countries the world over are doing these things right now and nobody there to the best of my knowledge is making political or constitutional points about them because they recognise the public health imperative.”

She added that even if restrictions are introduced, essential travel would be exempt for workers who cannot work from home.

“For goodness sake, let’s be sensible and grown up about these discussions,” she told him. “There is plenty time in the future I hope when we’re out of this pandemic to get back to the traditional debates we all enjoy having but for now let’s all keep focused on the public health imperative of keeping people safe from this virus.”

READ MORE: Travel restrictions for people in UK Covid hotspots possible, Ian Blackford says

Speaking to Radio 4 this morning, Blackford said if it’s deemed necessary people from coronavirus hotspots would be told not to travel to Scotland.

He went on: “But that will be done on an evidence-based approach where we think it’s appropriate to protect the people in all parts of the country from people travelling where it’s not necessary.

“When people have to travel for business, for work, and so on – essential journeys – they will still be allowed, but what we’re talking about is non-essential journeys, where it’s appropriate to do that.”