Scotland cannot 'rule out' a quarantine for English tourists - here's how other countries have managed it

Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 12:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 12:23 pm
The Scottish government hasn't ruled out possible quarantine for travellers from England (Photo: Shutterstock)
The Scottish government hasn't ruled out possible quarantine for travellers from England (Photo: Shutterstock)

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, has refused to "rule out" quarantine for English tourists at the Scottish border, should coronavirus cases rise.

On 28 June, The Sunday Times reported that the Scottish Government was considering the introduction of border quarantine for English tourists if case numbers spike in the country.

Scotland has not reported any coronavirus deaths for several days in a row, and has chosen to ease restrictions more slowly than England, where daily deaths from the virus are still being reported.

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The Scottish Government has not confirmed any definite plans to introduce a border quarantine, but the First Minister has said she can't rule out the possibility of screening or quarantining at the border, should case numbers rise in England.

The government has not revealed what measures may be in place at the border, but, in a daily briefing, the First Minister did point towards decisions in other countries like Germany and the US to introduce localised quarantines.

These examples from around the world could hold clues to what quarantine in Scotland could look like.

Who is allowed to travel where?

Many countries around the world, including Germany and New Zealand are currently only allowing travel into the country for essential reasons.

Others, like Spain, however, are beginning to open up to tourists. It's expected that Scotland will also be keen to kick-start the tourism sector as soon as it's safe to do so.

Rules on entry are being frequently reviewed and changed depending on case numbers, with Beijing, for example, forced to reintroduce restrictions on movement following a spike in cases.

How is quarantine enforced?

A 14 day quarantine is the standard length adopted by most countries around the world, given that this is around the maximum incubation period for coronavirus.

Most countries are using border security to enforce checks and quarantine measures. In the UK, however, quarantine (for certain foreign travellers outside agreed 'air bridges') will be enforced through random spot checks and £1,000 fines.

Some countries, such as France, are making quarantine voluntary rather than mandatory, except in cases where travellers are exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.

Where do travellers stay during quarantine?

In New Zealand, where entry is currently permitted for New Zealand residents only, hotels have been specially allocated for self-isolation. Those entering the country will be assigned a room and obligated to remain there for 14 days, with all meals provided.

In other countries, however, the onus to self-isolate is on the travellers themselves. Travellers to the UK (excluding some air bridge travellers) are asked to arrange somewhere they can isolate for 14 days, and are obliged to give the address to border security.

In the US, which is currently only accepting residents at the border, travellers are also asked to self-isolate at home.

On the possibility of border quarantine in Scotland, a Scottish Government spokesperson said, “We currently have no plans to introduce quarantine for people coming to Scotland from other parts of the UK. However, as our infection rates continue to fall, we have to be on our guard against cases coming into Scotland from elsewhere.

"If we did see an ongoing divergence between infection levels in Scotland and the rest of the UK, we would need to consider how we mitigate that. We will continue to be guided by the best and most up to date expert scientific advice.”