Yousaf “frustrated” by Johnson’s change to travel rules

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Scottish Health Secretary has expressed ‘frustration’ over changes to coronavirus testing regime for international travel announced for England only – despite UK-wide discussions on rules to respect.

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

This means pre-departure Covid testing for travelers arriving in England will be removed, as will the requirement for travelers to self-isolate upon arrival until they receive a negative PCR test.

Instead, the rules will revert to the system in place in October, with people having to take a lateral flow test no later than the end of the second day after arrival.

In Wales, Health Minister Eluned Morgan said the rules would “reluctantly” follow.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf promised an update for PSMs in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday afternoon.

But earlier today he said: ‘Although we have had a conversation with the UK government, it is a source of frustration that if the UK government unilaterally decides to go in a certain direction we potentially end up with a double whammy if we don’t line up.

Yousaf said if Scottish ministers chose to take a different route it would cause further damage to the travel industry north of the border, with no public health benefits, as travelers could instead choose to fly to and from English airports.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, he said: “It would be helpful if these discussions could not take place on a four-nation basis only, but any announcements could take place on a four-nation basis.

“Our aviation industry, which has undoubtedly been significantly affected throughout the pandemic, is taking another hit and we do not realize any benefit if we have different public health measures in place, because in the end , a number of people can travel well from UK airports if it seems easier or cheaper.

Yousaf said Scottish ministers will update Holyrood this afternoon by writing to the “relevant committees” of the Scottish Parliament.

The stricter travel regime was put in place following the identification of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant in South Africa last November.

But the Prime Minister said on Wednesday that with the variant now “so prevalent” in the UK, the measures have only “a limited impact on the growth of cases, while continuing to impose significant costs on our industry. travel”.

He told MPs: ‘I can report that in England from 4am on Friday we will be removing the pre-departure test, which discourages many from traveling for fear of being trapped abroad and d ‘incur significant additional expenses. “

The announcement concerns passengers who are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18.

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Responding to yesterday’s announcement of changes to isolation periods by the Prime Minister, Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association President Joanne Dooey said the industry appears to have been ignoring again.

“Travel agents have faced very limited trade – with many stating that they negotiate less than 10% of pre-pandemic rates in our members’ survey – with minimal support.

“Travel agencies have been forced to stay open to handle refunds, new bookings and repatriations, most have had little revenue since March 2020; we urgently need sector-specific support, ”she continued.

“What seems to be systematically overlooked is that without travel abroad there is no inbound tourism, so what is the point of supporting Scottish tourism businesses with £ 3million in support for companies if the travel industry, which brings them all here, has been decimated for lack of support.

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