Coronavirus: Spain quarantine rule ‘disappointing but needed’
The reintroduction of quarantine for travellers to Scotland from Spain will cause disappointment but is necessary, the justice secretary has said.
Scotland lifted the 14-day rule last week, but brought it back on Saturday along with the rest of the UK due to a rise in coronavirus cases in Spain.
Humza Yousaf said the decision had been taken to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus.
More than 900 new cases of the virus were reported in Spain on Friday.
Spanish officials have also warned a second wave could be imminent as major cities have seen cases surge.
The Scottish Passenger Agents' Association (SPAA) said it was right public health was the number one priority but has asked why the decision to re-impose the self isolation rule was taken on Saturday.
SPAA president Joanne Dooey told BBC Scotland the weekend was the busiest time for flights to Spain and some travel agents had worked through the night to try and get information to their customers.
The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain. Quarantine measures apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, such as Majorca and Ibiza.
The UK's biggest tour operator, Tui, has cancelled all mainland Spanish holidays until 9 August.
Among those affected by the new rules is UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who began his holiday in Spain on Saturday. He is expected to continue his trip as planned and isolate in line with guidance on his return.
'Cause for concern'
The Scottish government had previously held off relaxing the 14-day quarantine rule before adding Spain to its list of exempt countries last week.
Having reviewed the latest data earlier today, @scotgov is also reimposing 14 day quarantine for travellers returning from Spain. This reinforces the point that these matters are subject to change at short notice & so my advice is to be cautious about non essential foreign travel https://t.co/9xSnyFCv77
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 25, 2020
End of Twitter post by @NicolaSturgeon
Mr Yousaf said the decision to exempt Spain was taken when the data showed there was an improvement in the spread of the virus.
He said: "But clearly the latest data has given us cause for concern to overturn that decision.
"We appreciate that this will be disappointing. However, we have always been clear we are closely monitoring the pandemic situation in all countries and that we may require to remove a country from the list of places exempt from quarantine requirements should the virus show a resurgence.
"It is still active and it is still deadly."
Ms Dooey, of the SPAA, said the organisation was questioning why quarantine rules were reintroduced at short notice.
She said: "We understand people's health is the number one priority, but I think the biggest confusion here is why we got a four-hour window on a Saturday evening to say that quarantine was going into place at midnight.
"This must have been discussed previously. Why wasn't it brought into place on Friday? Saturday is the busiest time for people flying out to Spain."
Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said there were warnings in Spain of a rise in cases at the time the Scottish government decided to relax restrictions last week.
He has called on the government to publish the science supporting the decision to lift the quarantine on Thursday and re-impose it on Saturday.
He said: "This is now a shambolic situation and there is a big question as to how Scottish ministers have made such poor quality decisions.
"If it was not safe to lift the quarantine measures three weeks ago how had it been judged safe to do so earlier this week?"
What's happening in Spain?
Spanish officials have warned a second wave of coronavirus could be imminent as major cities have seen cases surge.