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Passengers could have isolation cut to JUST FIVE days – SNP urged to budge on quarantine
September 9, 2020
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Scottish airport bosses accused ministers of “overseeing the demise of UK aviation” amid fresh home nation splits in quarantine rules. They stressed of “incredible dark days ahead” just hours before it was announced that passengers arriving into Scotland from Portugal or French Polynesia will have to self-isolate for two weeks at the weekend.
Express.co.uk understands that airport bosses are developing plans which would allow passengers to be tested on arrival in Scotland and then again during the following days.
These new measures would allow passengers who receive two negative test results to avoid longer periods of quarantine.
The plans are set to recommend testing passengers again after five, eight or ten days following a flight to the UK.
Edinburgh Airport chief Executive Gordon Dewar and Derek Provan, chief executive of ASG airports which runs Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton, criticised government handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Dewar said the Scottish Government’s policies were “ineffective and unworkable” and warned of major blows to the industry.
In an open letter to Scottish Justice Secretary Humzs Yousaf, Mr Dewar said the government has ignored requests for discussions.
Mr Dewar added: “That’s surely not an accolade any government would like to have.”
A quarantine policy that is a travel ban in all but name makes this incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
“It is ineffective and unworkable as your own figures show and it is having a damning impact on a range of industries.
“If this is the path the Scottish Government is to continue down then there are some incredibly dark days ahead.”
The First Minister said it was something she was looking at but added: “it comes down to a balance of risk and a judgment about what degree of risk we want to take”.
She said: “Testing is not a perfect alternative to that [quarantine], so for example if you just tested people on day one of their arrivals and they tested negative because of the incubation period, you would have no certainty that they wouldn’t go on to develop the virus and spread it and you would have then imported the virus into the country.
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“So, as many people say, you would have to do it on day one and then at a later stage. And it becomes a sliding scale of risk.”
Graham Simpson MSP, Scottish Conservative transport spokesman, urged talks to take place immediately and said: “Over the last 24 hours, I have held discussions with senior management teams at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports.
“Scotland’s airports have told me clearly that the Scottish Government must agree to a passenger testing regime immediately.
“They cannot wait any longer. Even the threat of quarantine is stopping people from flying.
“The airline industry is at risk of collapse and the SNP Government must get round the table with airport bosses and tell them how they intend to stop the situation spiralling any further.”
It comes after a new regional approach to England’s quarantine policy was announced.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that should infection rates differ from their mainland countries, islands can be added to or removed from the quarantine list.
This policy change meant that from 4am today, arrivals from seven Greek islands will need to self-isolate for 14 days, but mainland Greece is to maintain its exemption.
The UK Department for Transport said it has “provided unprecedented support” for the industry with “early action on airport slots, loans, tax deferrals and the furlough scheme”.
A spokesman added it was “working closely with experts to keep our approach to quarantine under constant review.”
The Scottish Government also said it was continuing “to explore whether there is a better balance around quarantine”
A spokesman said in response: “But we are not satisfied that moving from quarantine to testing would provide enough protection – people in the early stages of incubation of the virus could test negative and go on to develop the virus and spread it.”