SNP forced into embarrassing U-turn just 24-hours before enforcing new travel policy

Scotland: Ian Murray tells SNP to ‘be straight with people’

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The Scottish Government had attempted to introduce a policy which would see all travellers arriving at UK airports from overseas be forced to stay for 10 days in hotels from tomorrow. Measures would have gone further than the UK Government policy, announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock which will only see those arriving from 33 “red list” countries into England be forced into quarantine hotels.

 

The SNP led administration however had issues regarding a loophole involving Scots flying to an English airport from a country not on the red list and then travelling north by road or rail.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said on Friday the Scottish Government must give “serious thought” to border controls to stop travellers entering Scotland by landing elsewhere in the UK.

But last night, the Scottish Government said people arriving abroad from England would be told to self-isolate at home instead, avoiding the £1,750 cost which they would have to pay themselves for a hotel.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the UK Government would refuse to enforce the Scottish policy at English airports for Scots.

Mr Hancock said anyone travelling from “low-risk” countries to Scotland via an English point of entry should quarantine at home.

However, the SNP’s policy will still apply to arrivals into Scottish airports who will be escorted to one of six designated hotels to complete a 10-day quarantine.

Six hotels close to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports with a combined capacity of 1,300 rooms will be used to implement the quarantine for Scottish airports.

Currently, 19 international flights will be landing at Scotland’s major airports next week and will be subject to hotel quarantine.

It comes after Scottish police officers hinted it could be hard to enforce the harsher COVID regime at the English border.

The U-turn was revealed in a Scottish Government report called Coronavirus: International Travel and Quarantine.

They said Scots travelling back to Scotland through another part of the Common Travel Area which consists of the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK should only self-isolate.

The policy added: “If you have arrived from the Common Travel Area (the rest of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or Isle of Man) but were in another country before that, you need to complete the passenger locator form and complete your self-isolation period of 10 days unless you are from an exempt country or territory.”

However, if Scots arrive directly to Scotland, the policy adds: “Everyone who arrives directly in Scotland by air from outside the Common Travel Area must provide a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and get a negative result during the three days before you travel… (and) book and pay for managed isolation in a quarantine hotel for at least 10 days from arrival.”

Graham Simpson MSP, Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman, said: “This is all too common of the SNP’s haphazard management of new coronavirus measures.

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“Time and time again we see the SNP drip-feeding information on new measures, giving individuals, families and businesses little time to prepare.

“This then causes chaos and confusion on enforcement and compliance.

“We need to see this urgently clarified so that people are not inadvertently breaking the law when these new rules on managed quarantine are introduced on Monday.”

Colin Smyth MSP, Scottish Labour transport representative, added: “The First Minister described the border as ‘leaky’ but it’s her policies that are less than watertight.

“To sound tougher than England, the Scottish Government claimed anyone flying into an English airport en route to Scotland from a non-red list country would need to quarantine in a hotel.

“But hours before the new rules come into effect that tough talk is in tatters.

“The idea of controls at Gretna to try to find someone who may have landed at Manchester airport is pie in the sky.”

Last night, a No 10 source agreed with Mr Symth and added: “It is clear these plans are pie in the sky.

“The new rules would be extremely difficult to enforce.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We’ve always been clear that we cannot unilaterally implement immediate managed quarantine for people who arrive in other parts of the UK before travelling onto Scotland.

“We have asked the UK Government to work with us to address this, but for now such travellers will be required to isolate at home.”

 

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