MASKED protesters in hazmat suits sparked fury after they set up camp at the Scottish border — and warned visitors from England to “stay the f*** out”.
The oddball pro-indy group gathered on the busy A1 to wave Saltires and post banners demanding our country remains “Covid-free”.
Some disgusted motorists called cops after spotting the “appalling” scenes near Lamberton, Berwickshire — yards from the iconic road sign welcoming travellers to Scotland. But others beeped their horns in apparent support.
In a video posted on social media, one campaigner brags: “As you can see there are quite a few of us today.
“We are really laying it on thick so basically what we’re saying is, ‘Stay the f*** out’.
“We’ve got everyone here, the usual crew.”
It came after thousands of Scots residents signed a petition demanding the border be shut to “all but essential traffic” amid fears of a second bug wave. Critics slated yesterday’s stunt, which was also condemned by the SNP and Scottish Government.
Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston wrote on Twitter: “Appalling. This is the result of dog-whistle rhetoric about closing borders.”
SNP MP Joanna Cherry branding it “abhorrent”. Her parliamentary colleague Pete Wishart added: “I have no idea how anybody would think this would win over support for independence.
“It could not be more counter productive and ill-conceived.”
The protesters had documented their trip to the border online, before setting up in a layby beside the road sign. Wearing personal protective gear, they brandished their posters and Yes flags at passing motors.
A banner was spotted hanging on the boundary stone which read “LERTS GO HOME!” — thought to be a dig at Boris Johnson’s “Stay Alert” mantra earlier in lockdown.
The group, accompanied by a dog in a face mask, played music and held signs reading: “Stay- cation keep Scotland Covid free.”
One passer-by said: “These guys said they were pro-independence and wanted to encourage people to go on holiday within their own countries to help stem the virus.”
But Glasgow comedian Janey Godley — who makes spoof voice-overs of the First Minister’s daily Covid briefings — raged: “Compete a******** this is not the Scotland I know and love.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf added: “If you are a racist you are no friend of mine. Horrible, reprehensible and vile.”
Scottish Labour said: “This small group of individuals have behaved disgracefully and do not speak for Scotland.”
But Twitter user Martin MacDonald said: “Can you define the racist part of wanting to keep Covid-19 out of Scotland?” The protest comes days after experts revealed a “cluster” of cross-border Covid infections.
And fears of a spike have been raised as Scots head to English boozers while pubs here are shut until gardens reopen tomorrow.
Public health expert Professor Devi Sridhar, of Edinburgh Uni said she’d be “surprised” if cases remain low after the relaunches.
PM Mr Johnson also provoked a backlash by insisting “there is no border between Scotland and England” in a quarantine row.
Ms Sturgeon admitted isolation restrictions on English visitors could be “considered” if case numbers rise south of the border.
The Scottish Government said of the A1 demo: “We condemn this type of behaviour in the strongest possible terms. This is an isolated incident and not indicative of the vast majority of people’s views.”
VisitScotland insisted they aim to “responsibly” boost tourism as lockdown eases.
Cops revealed they gave “suitable advice” to border protesters.
Yesterday it emerged there had been no bug-related deaths in the previous 24 hours, keeping the toll at 2,488. But 11 new cases were confirmed in that period.
Ms Sturgeon warned we must “not drop our guard”. The UK saw 67 deaths yesterday, bringing the toll to 44,198.
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