Quarantine restrictions for Scottish sun-seekers travelling to Spain are to be lifted this week, the Scottish Government has announced.
Scotland will fall into line with the rest of the UK when the requirement to self-isolate for a fortnight when coming to Scotland from Spain and its islands such as Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and the Canaries is removed.
Although airports have welcomed the easing of the measure, there are warnings that the delay has already affected jobs and led to cancelled flights.
Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports which owns Aberdeen and Glasgow airports, said: “The omission of Spain from the initial quarantine exemption list resulted in the cancellation of many flights. With just three weeks left of the school holidays, the removal of travel restrictions will provide airlines with the confidence to maintain their popular Spanish routes and afford families the opportunity to get away for some sun.”
Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport chief executive, said: “We are glad to see the unworkable blanket quarantine policy effectively being removed for one that is more targeted based on quantified risk.
“Despite this change we still have to unfortunately accept that the normally busy summer season is effectively gone and that will directly impact on jobs in the sector. We have tried to protect as many jobs as we can and we continue to work with unions on this, but this pandemic has decimated the aviation industry and it will continue to have a bearing on us for months to come.”
Earlier this month Nicola Sturgeon decided against creating a so-called air bridge to Spain and Serbia, despite the UK Government excluding them from quarantine restrictions south of the border along with 57 other overseas destinations.
Despite this change we still have to unfortunately accept that the normally busy summer season is effectively gone and that will directly impact on jobs in the sector.”
Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport chief executive
In Scotland, Ms Sturgeon adopted the UK Government’s list of air bridged countries with the exception of Spain and Serbia. They were excluded on the basis that the coronavirus was still too prevalent in those two countries, relative to Scotland. At the moment quarantine restrictions remain in place for travellers coming back from Serbia.
The decision not to create an air bridge with Spain, one of the most popular holiday destinations for Scots, was met with dismay by airports and the tourist industry.
The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) said delaying the easing of quarantine was also “a blow” to the domestic sector given that the Spanish market accounted for around 205,000 visits to Scotland in 2018.
The restrictions were eased for Spain after a Scottish Government review of the original decision and quarantine measures will be lifted later this week. But the move came with a warning that if the virus starts to surge again in Spain, then quarantine may have to be re-imposed.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Following this latest review and having carefully considered the potential public health impact of changing the country exemptions for quarantine, we are able to lift that requirement for those travelling from Spain. We are continuously keeping other countries under review and where there is clear evidence that it is safe to do so, we will add further countries. “Clearly the virus has not gone away. It is still active and it is still deadly. With the quarantine restrictions being lifted from these countries this means we have to be even more careful about what we are doing.
“Anyone travelling should follow public health advice at all times including wearing face coverings, avoiding crowded places, washing hands and surfaces, staying two metres apart and self-isolating if they get symptoms and immediately registering for a test.”
Aberdeen-Paris flights to resume
In a separate development it was announced Air France will resume operating a daily service between Aberdeen International Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle from September 1.
All international travellers arriving into Scotland, apart from a very limited number of exemptions, must complete a passenger locator form and provide evidence that they have done so on arrival in the UK if requested to do so by a Border Force official. Individuals who do not complete the form and present it when asked on arrival may be fined £60. A fine can be doubled for each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £480.