Coronavirus: Scotland retains quarantine measures for Spanish travel
People travelling to and from Spain will still have to go into quarantine when arriving in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The Scottish government has approved almost all of the “air bridge” travel destinations set out by UK ministers.
This means that from 10 July, Scots can travel to 57 other countries without having to self-isolate on returning.
However, Spain and Serbia have been omitted from the list due to concerns about the prevalence of Covid-19.
The first minister said this was a “very difficult decision” to make, but that it was needed to “protect Scotland as far as possible from a resurgence of this virus in the weeks ahead”.
And she warned that people should not seek to “get around” the restrictions by travelling via English airports, insisting that the rules “are here for a reason”.
The UK government had set out a list of 59 countries around the world which it said now pose a “reduced risk” from coronavirus, and which would no longer be subject to quarantine rules.
These include most countries in Europe, island nations in the Caribbean and countries further east – including Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
‘The best balance’
Scottish ministers – who have the final say on public health arrangements north of the border – have now approved this list, but with two exceptions.
Ms Sturgeon said the lower prevalence of the virus in Scotland meant its position was “a bit different to that of the UK as a whole”.
And she said that “we cannot in good conscience lift restrictions” for people arriving from Spain or Serbia.
The first minister said this was “the best balance we can arrive at”, and said she hoped the situation could be updated in the near future.
The move means anyone entering Scotland from Spain or Serbia will have to go into self-isolation even if they travel via an English airport.
The Scottish government has targeted the effective elimination of coronavirus north of the border, and Ms Sturgeon said the importation of new cases from abroad was “one of our biggest risk factors”.
Ms Sturgeon said it was estimated that for every 100,000 people in Scotland, 28 currently have coronavirus. She said this compared to 128 across the UK as a whole, and about 330 in Spain.
“That means the [infection] rate reported for Spain, while less than twice the rate of the UK as a whole, is more than 10 times the estimated rate for Scotland,” she said.
She said ministers had taken a “very difficult decision” to omit Spain and Serbia from the list, sand that the move was “evidence-driven and motivated only by a desire to protect Scotland as far as possible”.
Figures from VisitScotland said 205,000 people visited Scotland from Spain in 2018, spending just under £80m.
The first minister said she knew Scots loved travelling to Spain and that Scottish businesses welcomed many Spanish tourists, and that the position could change “possibly very soon”.
However, she urged Scots to “staycation” this summer rather than having a holiday abroad.