Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

A growing number of passengers are getting around the SNP Government’s “half-baked” rules on managed quarantine, by travelling via airports in the rest of the UK according to new figures.

The proportion of passengers travelling to Scotland indirectly via airports in the rest of the UK has increased since the Scottish Government announced its hotel quarantine plans at the start of February this year.

A Parliamentary Question submitted by South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour spokesperson for the Constitution, Brexit and External Affairs Colin Smyth to Transport Secretary Michael Matheson shows that 80 per cent (1999) of passengers arriving in Scotland did so via airports in England at the end of February, compared to just 27 per cent (3848) at the start of the year.

The figures also reveal that the SNP Government’s plans for managed quarantine weren’t announced until after passenger numbers had already plummeted from 14,432 at the beginning of the year to just 4,433 in the week of the announcement (February 2) but began to rise again after the policy was implemented.

Colin Smyth said: “This is further evidence of what Scottish Labour has said from the start; that the SNP’s hotel quarantine policy was riddled with loopholes – and made all the worse by the fact that it came almost a year too late.

“Time and again, I have called for a robust regime of airport testing and highlighted flaws in the previous quarantine regime that meant few people who were supposed to be quarantining at home, were ever properly checked.  The SNP only listened and brought in testing and managed quarantine after passenger numbers were at record low levels – too little, too late.

“At the time it was clear that loopholes in the new policy meant people would circumvent the restrictions by using a number of different routes into the country, which were obvious to everyone except the SNP Government who talked tough on quarantine, knowing their plans were flawed.

“Not only are 80 per cent of passengers arriving in Scotland avoiding managed quarantine by travelling via England, but a week into the new policy passenger numbers are actually beginning to rise again.

“It simply highlights the breakdown in the relations between the Scottish and UK Governments. At a time when people want our two Governments to work together to make Scotland safe, their constant bickering has led to a half-baked quarantine policy that works for no-one and an aviation sector that continues to shed jobs by the day with very little Government support.”

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