URGENT discussions are underway over tougher restrictions on international travel and border controls, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister stressed it is against the law to travel into or out of Scotland without an essential reason, and suggested further measures will be introduced shortly.

This was later confirmed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Speaking at his coronavirus briefing, he said: “We will be bringing in measures to ensure that we test people coming into this country and prevent the virus from being readmitted.”

There are 1,347 people in hospital with the virus in Scotland, up 255 in a week and the highest number since May 20.

The new variant is now responsible for around half of new cases in Scotland.

Elsewhere, Ms Sturgeon also warned Donald Trump that the travel ban on entering Scotland applies to him just as it does to everybody else.

It comes amid speculation the US President could be planning to snub the inauguration of Joe Biden by flying to his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. 

Ms Sturgeon said four nations talks were held on Monday night, chaired by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, during which tougher restrictions on travel and border controls were discussed.

She said border controls are the responsibility of the UK Government, but said there is a “willingness” to take a collaborative approach.

She stressed it is “against the law, right now, to travel outside of Scotland, or into Scotland, without it being for an essential purpose”.

Ms Sturgeon added: “It’s against the law, from today, to travel outside your home unless it’s for an essential purpose.

“You should not be going overseas unless it is essential, and you should not be coming into Scotland unless it is essential.

“That’s different to actual physical controls on the border - but that’s the legal position. 

“We have effectively said travel is banned, and that is a message that I want to get across very seriously.”

There have been reports international arrivals to the UK will have to present a negative coronavirus test obtained no more than 72 hours before departure.

The SNP said the UK Government should close the country’s borders to all but essential travel.

Joanna Cherry QC MP said: “The UK Government was far too slow to act in the spring, allowing hundreds of thousands of international visitors to enter the country in the middle of a global pandemic without effective measures in place. It seems as though they haven’t learnt a thing.

“No one wants to restrict international travel but it is a necessary part of mitigating against transmission. 

“The UK Government must stop all but essential travel, and introduce a far more rigorous system of health checks and quarantining at the border.”

She added: “It is time for the Home Secretary to listen and act with powers that remain reserved to Westminster.

“Other countries in Europe and across the world have already introduced these measures - leaving the UK as an outlier. 

“For people to have confidence in the UK Government’s approach, it is crucial they put these long-overdue measures in place and set out how this will form part of a considered exit strategy.”

Elsewhere, Ms Sturgeon was asked about rumours Mr Trump could travel to Scotland later this month. 

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, she said she hopes and expects Mr Trump’s immediate travel plan is to “exit the White House”.

She added: “We are not allowing people to come into Scotland without an essential purpose right now, and that would apply to him just as it applies to anybody else.

“Coming to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.”

The Sunday Post reported that Prestwick Airport has been told to expect the arrival of a US military Boeing 757 aircraft, which has occasionally been used by Mr Trump, on January 19. 

Speaking during her briefing, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland recorded 2,529 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, up from 1,905 on Monday.