Blackpool business leaders have come out swinging after Nicola Sturgeon yesterday warned Scots to stay away from the town in a bid to curb Covid-19 transmission.

Blackpool welcomes more than a million Scottish visitors a year, but now Scots have been told to avoid the area by the First Minister.

However, council leaders and business representatives from the seaside town have pointed out that Blackpool has lower coronavirus rates than many parts of Scotland, while highlighting that there do not appear to be similar problems with visitors from elsewhere in the UK.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon tells Scots not to travel to Blackpool amid coronavirus warning

Jane Cole, vice-president of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and managing director of Blackpool Transport, said: “The rate of Covid-19 in Blackpool currently stands at 218 per 100,000, which is one the lowest in the north-west of England and is also lower than parts of Scotland.

“We get 17 million visitors a year to Blackpool and have not seen outbreaks in the rest of the UK from visitors to Blackpool, nor are we experiencing outbreaks within our tourism businesses.

“Blackpool has stringent Covid secure measures in place.”

She added: “The council visits its hotels, venues and attractions on a regular basis to ensure all are Covid compliant.

“Blackpool was one of the first places in the country to establish a team of 60 Covid stewards.

“Their job is to ensure people are socially distancing, wearing face masks, alleviating pinch points in queues and advising and supporting the public and businesses.”

Ms Cole stressed that the evidence pointed to transmission through coach travel, rather than from the town itself.

She said: “As mentioned by the First Minister, evidence suggests that many of these current cases are linked to coach parties and coach travel,” she said.

“We are asking everyone not to travel when they are symptomatic.”

She added: “We are also reminding everyone when visiting Blackpool people should only be coming with those they live with.

“Households should not be mixing at all when in Blackpool.

“Evidence across the country suggests that the virus is spreading most quickly within social groups, which is why it is essential that people act in a Covid-secure way when they are here. ”

Blackpool was placed in the Tier 2 “high” category when new restrictions system came into force in England on Wednesday.