Scotland’s new Covid recovery secretary John Swinney says people should still not travel abroad, despite direct flights from Scotland to some ‘green list’ countries starting back up.
On Monday 24 April the first flight from Edinburgh to Faro in Portugal took off, marking the first direct flight from Scotland to a ‘green list’ country since the UK Government’s new traffic light system came into effect.
People travelling to countries on the green list do not have to quarantine when they come back to Scotland – currently this includes Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
However speaking on Good Morning Scotland, John Swinney says people should still not undertake any non-essential travel.
He said: “We’ve put in place a set of arrangements which are designed to enable travel where it is required to be undertaken and where it is safe for that to be the case.
“There are many reasons individuals have to travel, and it is not all about holidays.
“There can be essential family connections which people will wish to pursue understandably because they have been unable to do so for a considerable time now, so it is about trying to create pathways for essential travel.
“But our advice to people is they should observe that ‘essential’ travel element.
“We should not be undertaking non-essential international travel at this time.”
He added: “People have got to make their choices.
“We do live in a free society and we are trying to enable people to get back some form of normality after a period of severe constraint.
“But we are appealing to people, given the fragility of the situation we are in, to exercise due caution and to take steps to minimise the risk of any circulation of the virus and to minimise travel that is not absolutely essential.”
The deputy first minister added he understands why people may feel it is okay to travel abroad because of the easing of restrictions in Scotland and because of the success of the vaccination programme, but added everyone needs to “tread carefully” to stop new variants from spreading.