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Published on Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Scotland to enforce 'managed quarantine' for all arrivals

Scotland will go further than England in restricting arrivals from overseas and enforce 'managed quarantine' from every country, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said the current approach in Downing Street in drawing up a 'red list' from where travellers will face hotel quarantine 'does not go far enough'.

Sturgeon also ruled out the prospect of international travel any time soon. 

Addressing MSPs in Holyrood, the First Minister said Covid was almost eliminated in Scotland last summer, but overseas travel 'allowed it to be re-seeded'. 

"It is to that end that the four UK nations have already agreed that travellers coming into the UK from countries with a travel ban in place will be required to quarantine in hotels," The Herald quoted Sturgeon as saying.

"This is a necessary measure, but in the Scottish Government's view, it does not go far enough.

"Firstly, there should be very few people coming from countries with a ban in place anyway.

"Second, this approach leaves open the possibility that people will travel into the UK from those countries via third countries.

"And thirdly, an approach to managed quarantine that only includes countries where new variants have already been identified is too reactive because often by the time a new variant has been identified through genomic sequencing, it will already have spread across borders.

"So the firm view of the Scottish Government is that in order to minimise the risk of new strains coming into the country, managed quarantine must be much more comprehensive."

She confimed that Scotland intends to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland, 'regardless of which country they have come from'.

"Obviously, we cannot unilaterally implement immediate managed quarantine for people who arrive in other parts of the UK before travelling on to Scotland," she said. "So we will continue to urge the UK Government to adopt a comprehensive approach.

"And if they do not wish to do so - as is their prerogative - we will ask them to work with us to reduce the risk amongst people travelling to Scotland via ports elsewhere in the UK.

"We will set out more detail of how and when the managed quarantine system will be operationalised as soon as possible."

Sturgeon added that she understood 'how tough restrictions are for our travel and aviation industry' and said she would work with the UK Government to 'ensure the sector gets the support it needs until such time as we are able to start to ease travel restrictions'.

On international travel, Sturgeon said: "When we are able to start the process of slowly easing lockdown, to give us all more normality in our day to day lives, we will have to accept that some mitigations, like physical distancing and face coverings, will be necessary for a while yet.

"And I am afraid we will also have to accept that the price of greater domestic normality is likely to be - for a period at least - not going on holiday overseas.

"These are not easy trade-offs. But they are essential as we continue our journey through and hopefully out of this pandemic."

The Scottish Passenger Agents' Association described the broad quarantine policy as a 'moot point'. 

"Measures which protect public health are vital and the SPAA has always supported a stance which guard our borders, particularly against newly identified strains," Vice President Mike Tibbert said.

"We understand that there must be restrictions in the short and medium term until the vaccination programmes across the world give more confidence about travel.

"However, today's First Minister announcement that anyone arriving directly into Scotland, regardless of which country they have come from, will have to enter managed quarantine is virtually a moot point as this directive relates to a very small prospective amount of inbound travellers who already would have to provide a negative certificate and self -isolate upon arrival regardless"

"What the SPAA has been asking for, since the early days of the pandemic, is a clear roadmap out of what is realistically a terminal situation for the Scottish travel sector.

"Scotland urgently needs a plan for how our country will return to travel, and targeted financial support for the whole sector."

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