Information regarding quarantine on travellers returning from Portugal: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

1.The number of known infections of coronavirus imported by returning travellers entering Scotland from Portugal

  • since 22nd August 2020

  • since 23rd March 2020

2. The criteria used in decision making by Scottish Ministers which differ from those used by the UK Government.


In regards to you information request regarding coronavirus cases with a suspected Portuguese origin, whilst our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance exemption section 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies to the information requested in relation to cases with a Portuguese origin. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government. It is essential for the effective administration of the UK as a whole that there should be regular, and often private, communications between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the other devolved administrations. The release of these communications will mean that the UK Government is likely to be more reluctant to share such information with the Scottish Government in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications between the Scottish Government and other UK administrations.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in maintaining good relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government, and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest. There is no public interest in disclosing information when that will damage relationships and disrupt future communications.

You may find it helpful to review the recent evidence paper which shows the percentage of individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 that reported recent international travel between 19 August 2020 and 30 September 2020. In addition to this Health Protection Scotland has began producing a report which collects information on confirmed coronavirus cases that have reported international travel.

The Scottish Government cannot comment on the criteria used by the UK Government but we look at a range of evidence when reaching our decisions – much of that evidence is provided by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and shared across the 4 nations. We generally consider:

  • The situation in Scotland including the weekly incidence rate of cases per 100,000

  • Weekly incidence rate of cases per 100,000 in overseas countries or territories. This

  • information is collated by JBC and provided to all 4 nations

  • Information on test positivity rates overseas

  • Numbers of tests undertaken;

  • A risk assessment from JBC and Public Health England

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top