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Guidance for Travellers from Abroad

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th June 2020.

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Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the guidance for passengers arriving in Scotland from abroad. (S5T-02247)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I announced on 7 June that the Scottish Government would be introducing public health measures—[Inaudible.] Those measures will apply to international arrivals to Scotland, whether they are residents or visitors. These temporary measures, taken as part of the four-nations public health approach, require arriving passengers to provide contact details and travel information, as well as self-isolating for 14 days.

There will be a very limited number of exemptions, including for those working on critical infrastructure in transportation. The measures have been taken to support a continued effort to suppress the virus and will be reviewed on a three-weekly basis.

Further guidance on what to do when travelling to Scotland is available from the Scottish Government’s—[Inaudible.]

Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

We have seen reports in the media in recent days about so-called travel corridors between the United Kingdom and other countries. Has the UK Government consulted the Scottish Government on that?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

There has not been any consultation or discussion with the UK Government as yet on any air corridors. I should make it abundantly clear that any exemptions or any air corridors that were to be developed would have to come under the Scottish regulations. Therefore, that is not something that the UK Government could implement unilaterally; it would have to be done by the Scottish Government via the Scottish regulations.

Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

Perhaps I can ask the cabinet secretary to elaborate on how the guidance issued in Scotland might differ from that in the other UK nations.

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Generally speaking—[Inaudible.]—between the four nations, but there has also been the ability to create differentiation, where that is appropriate to the circumstances here in Scotland. There are minor differences in relation to the exemptions, I would say.

Reflecting Scotland’s needs, there are differences reflecting seasonal soft-fruit workers, for example. There are some differences when it comes to enforcement measures, but they reflect the different legal jurisdiction that we have here. All of the exemptions that are different here in Scotland have been discussed with the appropriate stakeholders, including Police Scotland, Public Health Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and, indeed, business and industry. A full list of the exemptions that apply in Scotland is available on the Scottish Government website.

The Presiding Officer:

The sound quality is not the best, but we will persevere.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary agree that allowing people to travel without quarantine from Ireland, where almost 1,700 people have died of Covid-19, while imposing a quarantine on people travelling from Norway, Iceland or Singapore, which have a fraction of Ireland’s death rate—to name just some countries—is just daft? I understand that visitors cannot just stop off in Ireland for a day or two on their way here to avoid quarantine restrictions, but can the cabinet secretary advise the Parliament as to how that will be monitored?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

[Inaudible.]—Ireland are exactly, as Kenny Gibson describes in the sense that anybody attempting to—[Inaudible.]—quarantine will not be able to do that. Even coming into Scotland via Ireland, they would have to self-isolate for 14 days, minus any period of self-isolation in Ireland.

As for how that will be enforced, there will be spot checks by Border Force. As regards any further enforcement, Police Scotland officers will, if in the normal course of their duties they come across anybody who is breaching self-isolation, have the ability to enforce that with a fixed-penalty notice of £480. If necessary, they can escalate the matter to the procurator fiscal.

Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

Regarding the differences that we discussed earlier, the maximum fine for breach of quarantine is £1,000 for the rest of the UK, but only £480 in Scotland. The cabinet secretary is on record as saying that the lower fine is because of our distinct fines system, but an exception could quite easily have been carved out in legislation, as has been done for several issues since the outbreak began. Will the cabinet secretary confirm that that was a policy choice by the Scottish Government? Can he justify it?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

[Inaudible.]—was done in collaboration and conjunction with Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service—[Inaudible.]—with the Scottish Government, but in consultation with important partners.

If we had imposed a fine of £1,000 in Scotland, I think that reporting people to the procurator fiscal as a first step in response to any breach of self-isolation measures would have had a disproportionate effect and would have been a very heavy-handed measure.

The Presiding Officer:

I think that we all appreciate that there is a bad connection and the volume is quite low. I ask members not to mutter in the background, because others will want to listen to Mr Yousaf’s answers. We will take the next question, from James Kelly.