FEARS have been raised over the risk of tourists spreading coronavirus in Peeblesshire.

During a meeting of Innerleithen Community Council on Monday night (November 2), town resident Ross McGinn raised concerns about “potential virus transmitters” coming into the region from Wales and the north of England.

He told the meeting that van-loads of visiting mountain bikers are arriving in the town every day.
“It looks as though our Scottish Government and Police Scotland are not doing anything to protect this community,” he said.

Mr McGinn, who is the chairman of Innerleithen’s Community Trust, warned: “We’re going to get hit. Jedburgh has already had it [an outbreak], probably because people stop there for coffees and toilets when they come over the Border from the A68, so I am concerned.
“There are van-loads of bikers at the weekend staying over from Wales.
“It’s just not on – they shouldn’t be here.”

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Scottish Borders Council (SBC) member Shona Haslam, who represents Tweeddale East, raised the point that the tier system only came into effect on Monday, with England due to go into a second lockdown on Thursday [yesterday].

Mrs Haslam added: “At the moment there is absolutely no scientific evidence at all that we can pin down on people bringing the virus in from outside into the Borders.”

Echoing this, councillor Stuart Bell warned: “It’s important that we don’t lead the impression that there’s any belief that the outbreak in Jedburgh was brought in by visitors from outside.
“I think it’s important not to surmise on these things because it results in unconstructive speculation. 
“I’ve heard of a number of concerns such as yours, Ross, and we need to see that effectively enforced after the change in circumstances in the north of England.”
Chairman Marshall Douglas said: “I think after Thursday when the lockdown actually takes place in England then regulations should be in place for the police doing what they can.”

The community council was told that in Scotland people should not be travelling from Level 3 areas to Level 2 areas, except for essential purposes.

Community councillor Gordon Daly said there was confusion aired online on where the boundaries are between the Borders and the different tiers.

Mr Bell replied: “Every boundary around the edge of the Borders, with the exception of the roads between Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, are going into areas with a level of COVID prevalence and greater restrictions than we have.”

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However, Andy Weir, from Ridelines, said there is “confusion” in the mountain biking community over travel restrictions.
He added: “There is still a desire for people to travel here for their outdoor exercise.”

Mrs Haslam said: “The advice is quite clear that you shouldn’t be travelling from Tier 3 to a Tier 2 area for leisure outdoor activity.”

Mr Weir replied: “Personally I agree with that. I’m just highlighting what I’m seeing through forums, and that’s coming from Scotland, that’s not coming from chat forums in England and Wales, that’s coming from people who like to travel to be in this area to do their mountain biking.”

Mrs Haslam said she would raise the issue with Cycling Scotland and get some advice put out.