Updates to public health foreign travel and pre-departure testing.
Following identification of a new variant of coronavirus in Brazil, the Scottish Government will impose additional restrictions on all arrivals from South America, as well as several countries with strong travel links to affected countries. In addition to the South American nations of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela, this will also apply to Portugal, including Azores and Madeira, Panama and Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) and British Overseas Territory of the Falkland Islands.
These travel restrictions will replicate the measures that were put in place for Denmark and South Africa and come into force at 04:00 on Friday 15 January. Travellers who have been in any of these countries or territories in the 10 days prior to their arrival in Scotland must isolate, along with all members of their household. No exemptions from isolation will apply.
Qatar and the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are also removed from the country exemption list at the same time.
The UK Government has confirmed that implementation of pre-departure testing for arrivals into England is delayed until Monday morning, to allow carriers and passengers additional time to prepare.
The Scottish Government intended to introduce this additional measure on Friday 15 January, but it is necessary to also delay implementation to allow for coordination between the UK Government’s regulations and the relevant Scottish regulations.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said:
“It is important that everyone follows the regulations that mean any travel must be for an essential purpose. Very few people should be travelling internationally, and then only for a genuinely essential reason.
“The emergence of concerning variants identified in Brazil, as well as South Africa and Denmark in recent months, means we must think carefully about restrictions on international travel.
“At this early stage of vaccine rollout, and with case rates at high levels across the UK, it is important we take the right steps to prevent importing new strains that can increase transmission or undermine the vaccine in Scotland. We are in close discussion with other administrations about additional measures we can put in place, including the timing of the introduction of pre-departure testing.”
South America travel restrictions will come into force at 04:00 on Friday 15 January.
Further information about the foreign travel public health rules, pre-departure testing 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.
Those travelling abroad should check in advance for any local requirements to quarantine on arrival at their destination.
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.