Importation of new cases remains ‘significant’ public health risk.
Travellers from Greece will be required to self-isolate at home, or another specified address, for 14 days on arrival in Scotland from 4am Thursday morning (3 September). This is due to a significant rise in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) being imported into Scotland by people who have been in Greece.
Evidence of virus importation, especially from the Greek islands, has led to the country being removed from the exemption list on public health grounds. It is believed prevalence of COVID-19 in Greece currently remains lower than 20 per 100,000, however, a number of cases of the virus in Scotland can be traced back to travel to Greece.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the situation in many countries can change suddenly. Therefore, people should think very hard before committing to non-essential travel abroad. With Scotland’s relatively low infection rate, importation of new cases from Greece is a significant risk to public health. I would also encourage people who have returned to Scotland from Greece in the last few days to be particularly careful in their social contacts and to ensure they stick to the FACTS.
“We continue to closely monitor the situation in all parts of the world and base the decisions we make on the scientific evidence available.
“Regular discussions continue with the other three governments in the UK.
“Requiring travellers arriving from a non-exempt country to quarantine for 14 days on arrival is vital to helping prevent transmission of the virus and to suppress it. More details about what this means can be found on the Scottish Government website.
“Wherever people have travelled from – an exempt country or not – it is a legal requirement to complete a Passenger Locator Form and provide it to Border Force officials. 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.”
Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith said:
“There is a compelling public health risk around importation of the virus, especially given the number of imported cases linked to the Greek islands.
“The flow of travel between Scotland and Greece, and the behaviour we have seen from some of those travellers, means that on public health grounds there is a strong case – supported by public health directors – to remove Greece from the exemption list.”
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.
To allow the appropriate arrangements to be put in place, following the laying of the regulations, the change will come into force at 4am on Thursday 3 September.
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. 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 £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.