Sturgeon: UK Covid quarantine proposals ‘leave too many gaps’

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NICOLA Sturgeon has warned Scots against any booking overseas holidays, as she outlined plans to ramp up travel quarantine in Scotland. 

It came as Boris Johnson announced plans for tighter border restrictions to combat new variants of Covid, confirming all those arriving from 22 high-risk countries currently with travel ban status will have to quarantine in hotels for 10 days.

However, Ms Sturgeon said the proposals as they stand are “the least that could be done” and “would leave far too many gaps”.

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The First Minister said she will be taking part in four-nation talks later today and hopes to be able to persuade the UK Government to go further. 

However, she said the Scottish Government would go further on its own if necessary.

Ms Sturgeon said she instead favoured a “full and comprehensive” system which would apply hotel quarantine to nearly all UK arrivals, with a few limited country exemptions. 

She said: “If you impose [supervised quarantine]purely for the countries where there is a travel ban in place, the very fact that there is a travel ban in place tells you you’re going to be reaching very small numbers of people.

“Nobody should be travelling to and from these countries even for essential purposes already.

“And if you just focus on countries where a variant has been identified – like South Africa – or countries where it is known to have been identified, then you would possibly miss countries where it has already travelled to but has not yet been identified.

“When you’re trying to prevent a virus from getting into the country, and in particular stop new variants getting into the country, you really need as comprehensive a protective ring as possible because the virus will find the holes in the net.”

She said the Scottish Government would initially emulate whatever the UK Government announce, but will look to go further if a four-nations agreement cannot be struck. 

Speaking at today’s daily Covid briefing, she said: “I think I do have a duty, at this point, to say that I am concerned the proposal does not go far enough. And I have made that point very strongly.”

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The First Minister added that it was right to sacrifice holidays if it meant being able to restore more domestic normality, saying she was “crystal clear” that the priority was to get children back to school

“If that means that I can’t go overseas – or you adults watching [at home]can’t go overseas for a bit longer – or we can’t go to the pub or restaurants the way we did, without thinking about it before the pandemic, these are the prices I think we have to be prepared to pay to get children back to school.”

She said: “No one should be travelling overseas right now, unless for absolutely essential purposes. And I’m afraid you should not at this stage be booking holidays overseas.”

The limited quarantine measures have been welcomed by the aviation industry, however. 

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), said: “An expensive 10 day stay in a hotel not of your own choice is distressing and we support that the Government has specifically targeted this extreme measure to eligible returning passengers from the 22 travel ban countries.

“The aviation sector is struggling with the depth and duration of this crisis and we can only hope that we have now reached rock bottom.”

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