Domestic Cruise Ships

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th June 2021.

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Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

Can the First Minister explain why domestic cruise ships can drop off and pick up passengers from Scotland in England, but not Scotland, and why this ban on domestic tourism is in place at a time when thousands of football fans will—quite rightly—be allowed to gather in Glasgow?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I want to reiterate what I said the other day, because I understand that, as we come out of restrictions and hope to start to get back to normal bit by bit, people will look at different circumstances and events, and ask why something is allowed here and not there. Sometimes, we get those things wrong, which is why we review matters on an on-going basis. However, every event or category of event has to be assessed based on its own characteristics, and we try to do that as best we can.

The Scottish Government position on cruises has been well known and communicated to the industry. This week, at the request of the industry, we reiterated the position, which did not change in any way this week. Domestic cruises will restart when the country as a whole is in protection level 1. The reason why we do not allow cruises right now comes down to their particular characteristics. They represent a long-duration, close-proximity form of leisure, which our advice says has a particularly high risk of transmission. When that is combined with the fact that cruises go to, and passengers can disembark at, multiple locations, the risk of spreading the virus to different parts of the country is increased.

It is difficult for the cruise industry. It is an important part of our economy and we want to support getting it back to normal as much as possible. However, I am explaining why the advice is that it is still prudent to have the restrictions in place right now, while in other circumstances and for other events, with the right mitigations, a different conclusion might be reached.

I recognise that it is difficult for people, but we continue to try to take decisions based on the best advice and by applying the best possible judgment overall.