Tories failed to consult Scotland about ‘air bridges’ plan

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has criticised the UK Government for making its announcement on “air bridges … without any prior consultation at all with the Scottish Government”.

On Friday, Westminster announced that they would be publishing a list of countries to which UK citizens can travel to and return from without the need to quarantine. Since June 8 Scotland has required overseas arrival to isolate for two weeks in order to suppress transmission of the virus.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Controls on English border may have to be considered

Speaking today, the First Minister said: “The UK Government made its announcement on what are called air bridges – which allow travel to and from certain countries without quarantine restrictions – unfortunately without any prior consultation at all with the Scottish Government.

“As a result, we are still considering our response and our own proposals.”

Quarantine measures may become more important in Scotland rather than less as our infection rates fall

She added that although the SNP “can and do of course see the benefits of adopting a consistent approach across all parts of the UK”, her Government would “want to take a bit of time to consider the public health impact of the UK Government’s proposals”.

Westminster is expected to announce the first group of countries with “air bridges” to the UK on Wednesday, with “low-risk” European nations such as France, Italy, Spain, and Germany included.

The UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said Westminster would only establish “air bridges” with countries using a coronavirus test and trace system of the same standard as Britain.

READ MORE: Devi Sridhar warns English tourists may stop virus progress in Scotland

Talking about the issues around loosening quarantine restrictions, Sturgeon said: “We also know that quarantine measures, albeit perhaps on a more targeted basis in future, may become more important in Scotland rather than less as our infection rates fall, since then the relative impact of new cases from outside Scotland potentially becomes greater.

“And the prospect of cases coming in from elsewhere poses a risk – not just to health but also to our economy.”

She added that Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf had been part of a four-way phone discussion with Michael Gove and the other devolved administrations earlier today, and said the Scottish Government would look at “the data and evidence underpinning [the air bridges], which hopefully we will see before too long and we will make a further announcement once we have had the opportunity to do so”.

Sturgeon also said that health was her primary focus, as approaching the issue through the prism of Scottish politics or the constitutional question would be “inappropriate”.

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