Scotland will 'go at least as far' as UK Govt with quarantine hotel arrangements

26 January 2021, 16:35

John Swinney said Scotland could go further than the rest of the UK in its quarantine hotel arrangements
John Swinney said Scotland could go further than the rest of the UK in its quarantine hotel arrangements. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Scottish Government will "go at least as far" as the UK Government if "quarantine hotel" arrangements come into effect.

Scotland could go further than England, Wales and Northern Ireland if quarantine hotels are implemented this week, Deputy First Minister John Swinney told MSPs on Tuesday.

With No10 considering using hotels to isolate international arrivals - and a decision on them expected later today - Mr Swinney said Scotland's arrangements could be more stringent if those put in place by Westminster are thought to be "at a minimal level".

The Deputy First Minister told Holyrood: "We have engaged with the UK Government for some time on improving border controls and while we have had some discussions on issues such as quarantine hotels, we have not yet been sighted on what the UK Government intends to announce or when it intends to announce it.

"I understand that decision has been deferred to this evening."

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Mr Swinney acknowledged that "border controls will work best on a four-nation basis".

Otherwise, he said, "if Scotland establishes a supervised quarantine regime, and England does not, that could be problematic if unrestricted travel between Scotland and England resumes".

The Deputy FM said: "The Scottish Government believes that a comprehensive system of supervised quarantine is required.

"So, I can confirm that the Scottish Government will initially go at least as far as any UK Government announcement in enhancing quarantine arrangements, including through the use of hotels.

"However if these UK restrictions are at a minimal level, we will look at other controls we can announce - including additional supervised quarantine measures - that can further protect us from importation of the virus, and we will set those out next week."

Read more: UK passes 100,000 coronavirus deaths, ONS data shows

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Boris Johnson is expected to sign off controversial new rules on Tuesday evening which will force travellers into quarantine hotels when they arrive in the UK.

The prime minister met ministers in the afternoon to discuss the proposal for arrivals into the country to quarantine in designated hotels to help stop the spread of new Covid-19 variants.

A number of options are said to be on the table but Whitehall sources suggest the government may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned that tougher border rules would be "catastrophic" for the industry.

The officials said a less sweeping option would apply only to British residents returning from countries with more contagious strains - such as Brazil, South Africa and Portugal.

But the final decision is set to be made at a meeting of the Covid-O committee on Tuesday. No 10 declined to comment.

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