The Scottish Government, along with the UK Government and the other Devolved Administrations, have introduced emergency public health measures at the UK border, designed to reduce the public health risks posed by coronavirus, by limiting the further spread of the disease.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 as amended (“the Regulations”) therefore contain provisions:
- requiring international travellers arriving from outside the Common Travel Area at the UK border in Scotland or the rest of the UK to provide journey details, contact details and details of their intended onward travel, in order to support “contact tracing”; and
- requiring international travellers arriving from a non-exempt country or territory (or from an exempt country or territory where they have departed from, or transited through, a non-exempt country in the previous 14 days) to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Scotland at home or in other suitable accommodation (bar limited exemptions contained in regulation 7 and schedule 2 of the Regulations, including for those working on critical infrastructure and transportation), in order to limit risks of transmission.
Since the introduction of these Regulations there have been amendments to these measures which have been laid through Statutory Instruments at the Scottish Parliament. The amendments have related to the addition and removals of country specific exemptions in terms of the requirement to self-isolate and sectoral exemptions from the same measure.
The Scottish Government is mindful of the three needs of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) - eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not - and recognises while the measures may positively impact on one or more of the protected characteristics, also recognises that the introduction of the measures may have a disproportionate negative impact on one or more of the protected characteristics. Where any negative impacts have been identified, we have sought to mitigate/eliminate these. We are also mindful that the equality duty is not just about negating or mitigating negative impacts, as we also have a positive duty to promote equality. We have sought to do this through provisions contained in the Regulations, or by current support and guidance available.
While it is the view of the Scottish Government that any remaining impacts are currently justified and a proportionate means of helping to achieve the legitimate aim of reducing the public health risks posed by coronavirus, the Scottish Government also recognises that these measures are only required to respond to the current set of circumstances, and are only necessary as long as the potential public health benefits can justify any negative impacts caused.
Therefore, there are safeguards built into the Regulations in that regard. In accordance with the approach taken to the wider Covid-19 measures, a review of the need for the requirements imposed by the Regulations must take place at least once every 21 days. There have been four reviews so far on 29 June, 20 July, 10 August and 31 August with Ministers assessing that there remains a requirement for these regulations to remain in place. The Scottish Government will continue to review existing mitigating actions and impacts.
We will continue to consider newly identified evidence, as it relates to each of the protected characteristics, and will make further adjustments, as appropriate. Finally, it should be noted that all measures contained in the Regulations are also time-limited and will expire at the end of the period of 12 months, from 8 June 2020 when they came into force.