Industry welcomes easing restrictions on international travelers


As of today, people traveling to Scotland from abroad who are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18 will no longer need to take the Covid tests before departure and will also no longer be required to do so. self-isolate on arrival until they have tested negative.

Travelers in this group will still need to be tested no later than the second day after arriving in the UK – which can be a lateral flow device rather than a PCR test from Sunday.

The Scottish government has also confirmed that anyone with a positive lateral flow test will need to self-isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test.

The new measures apply across the UK after an agreement between the UK government and the three decentralized administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Pre-departure Covid testing, mandatory self-isolation and mandatory PCR testing were reintroduced in December to help stem the spread of the Omicron variant, but are now considered less necessary as Omicron is now the dominant strain UK.

In addition, ministers agreed to approve vaccine certificates for 16 other countries and territories on January 10 to allow quarantine-free travel to Scotland.

These are Bhutan, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Iraq and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Palau, from Paraguay, Solomon Islands, Gambia, Uzbekistan, as well as Northern Cyprus and Papua New Guinea.

The red list of countries most at risk will remain unchanged, with no country currently on the list.

The four countries are also discussing what should be border travel requirements in the future.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transportation Michael Matheson said: “We still have significant concerns about Omicron, but we recognize that now that it is the most dominant strain in Scotland and the United Kingdom, it makes sense to review the measures currently in force. place.

“We also fully understand the impact of restrictions on personnel and businesses in the travel and aviation industries and these changes demonstrate our commitment not to keep measures in place longer than necessary.”

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Mike Tibbert, President of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, welcomed the latest announcement, saying: “I hope we can start to see confidence restored in international travel, which is such a valuable industry for us. the entire Scottish economy.

“We hope this is the start of a positive message on travel and the end of the mixed messages, sudden U-turns and unexpected and meteoric regulatory reversals.”

Murray Burnett, Managing Director of Aberdeen-based Munro’s Travel, added: “Going forward, it is essential that the UK and decentralized governments align and develop a solid plan to deal with future variations and keep our open borders.

“Travelers need the confidence of a structured future for international travel where they can be confident that regulations won’t change overnight, and this should be done on a four country basis. “

Earlier this week, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf expressed his “frustration” over changes to the coronavirus testing regime for international travel announced for England only.

As talks took place between the four nations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced changes for England only.

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