Further public health measures to prevent spread of new coronavirus strain.
Ministers have agreed on the basis of advice from senior clinical advisers to introduce further controls on travellers who have been in South Africa in the previous 10 days.
Regulations will require all UK nationals or residents returning to Scotland from South Africa to isolate for 10 days. This will apply to both the individual traveller and their household. Unlike travel into Scotland from other countries, there will be no exemptions to this quarantine policy.
All measures relating to South Africa will be reviewed in light of emerging evidence on the public health risks.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:
“These steps are a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of a variant strain of coronavirus which has been detected in South Africa, which we are still in the early stages of learning about, to Scotland. This decision has been taken on clinical advice to help further safeguard public health and keep communities safe.”
Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said:
“A mutated strain of the virus has been detected in South Africa with greater transmissibility between humans and it is appropriate that we err on the side of caution. We do not want to see transmission of this strain in this country and it is imperative that anybody who has recently travelled from South Africa, and their household, should self-isolate for 10 days and follow the guidance laid out by the Scottish Government. If needed, they should contact NHS 24.”
Work will also be undertaken to contact individuals who have recently arrived in the country from South Africa in the last 10 days who may have had a sectoral exemption to encourage them and their households of the need to isolate.
The requirements for all UK nationals or residents returning to Scotland from South Africa, and their households – to isolate for 10 days – came into force at 6.00pm today.
The regulations will be laid before the Scottish Parliament on 24 December.
The Scottish Government will be working with the other three nations to explore what other measures may be necessary to safeguard public health.
Public health rules for international travel are an important part of Scotland’s wider response to the pandemic to limit the introduction of new chains of transmission.
All international travellers arriving into Scotland, apart from a very limited number of individual exemptions, must complete a passenger locator form and provide evidence that they have done so on arrival in the UK if requested to do so by a Border Force official. This includes people arriving from countries where quarantine is subsequently not required.
Failure to do so can also result in a fine since this, along with any failure to self-isolate where required, poses a significant risk to wider public health across Scotland.
Individuals who do not complete the form and present it when asked on arrival may be fined £60. The fine can be doubled for each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £480.
Failure to comply with the requirement to quarantine may result in a fine of more than £480.
Those travelling abroad should check in advance for any local requirements to quarantine on arrival at their destination. Further information about the foreign travel public health rules, including quarantine requirements, can be read on the Scottish Government website. This includes the existing list of overseas destinations where those arriving in Scotland are exempt from self-isolation.