RICHARD Leonard’s complaints about Scotland’s impending travel restrictions were slapped down by Nicola Sturgeon during this afternoon’s FMQs.

The Scottish Labour leader insisted the new rules are a “red herring” and there are other policies available to stem the spread of Covid-19.

From tomorrow Scots will not be allowed to travel to or from areas under lockdown levels 3 and 4 except for “certain essential purposes”.

The existing guidance on non-essential travel is being brought into law in an effort to avoid a national lockdown, the First Minister explained this week as she announced the change.

In Holyrood this afternoon Leonard complained about the legal change and said issues like mass testing of frontline workers should be prioritised.

READ MORE: Travel ban for Scottish areas in lockdown level 3 and 4 to be made law

“I raise these issues because as I have repeatedly said it is in all of our interests for the Government to get this right. So First Minister, will you admit that you have not got this right and before it’s too late will you rethink the travel ban and its application?” he asked.

The First Minister said she accepted she had not got everything right when it came to Covid, adding that she would be “candid” when mistakes are made.

But she added: “I will also take the actions that I consider – and people are entitled to disagree – are necessary to keep the country as safe as possible.

“In a situation like this it is absolutely incumbent on somebody like me to do my level best to do the right things and the necessary things, even if these are not always popular or welcome things.

“I would be failing in my responsibility if I didn’t do that.”

On the matter of the travel restrictions, Sturgeon said that in Scotland millions of people will go into the highest level of lockdown tomorrow – but so far we have avoided a full national lockdown like England or Wales have implemented.

“We don’t think, if we can avoid it, it’s right for areas with low rates of the virus to have the same restrictions as areas with higher rates of the virus.

“In order to maintain that proportionate targeted approach, we must avoid taking the virus from higher prevalence areas to lower prevalence areas or having people from lower prevalence areas going to higher prevalence areas and taking the virus back so that prevalence there goes up,” she explained.

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The First Minister succinctly added: “’Levels of the virus have risen. People living in those areas are not able to travel beyond their local boundary without a reasonable excuse.

“’This is designed to prevent the spread of infection within the country and to other parts of the UK. I am determined to keep the country safe.’”

Sturgeon then revealed that had actually been a quote from Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Labour first minister, when he introduced travel restrictions there in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.

“He was right,” she said. “Because he is determined to keep his country safe and I am as determined as he is to keep my country as safe as I possibly can.”

Later SNP MSP Christine Grahame took aim at Leonard’s comments during her own question to the First Minister.

“Unlike Richard Leonard I and most of my constituents welcome making travel restrictions subject to legal enforcement. In particular because my constituency covering the Borders and Midlothian is now level 2, thanks to the efforts of folk there, and adjacent Edinburgh however is at level 3.”

Under the new legislation people should not go to or from a level 3 or 4 area except for essential purposes, and there must be no non-essential travel between Scotland other parts of the UK.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a social psychologist who advises the Scottish Government on its Covid response, says the travel ban will “certainly” affect how people behave.

He compared the change to when it became law for people to wear face coverings – take-up increase significantly from about 20% to 80%.