Saturday, 19 Sep 2020

Portugal quarantine rule comes into force for parts of UK

Travellers returning from Portugal to Scotland now have to quarantine for 14 days after new rules came into force this morning.

Scotland and Wales have taken Portugal off their safe travel list due to a rising infection rate but England and Northern Ireland decided against removing the country.

It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted the differing rules across the UK were ‘confusing’ travellers.

Scotland’s new rules affecting Portugal came into force at 4am, while travellers returning from Greece have had to self-isolate since Thursday after that country was also removed as an air bridge.

Wales’ rules, which included six Greek islands, were enforced from 4am on Friday.

Scotland said it was acting early after the infection rate in Portugal rose above the threshold of 20 people per 100,000 of the population.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said they were also monitoring the infection rate in Gibraltar.

He 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 is a significant risk to public health.’

However, Mr Shapps accused Scotland of ‘jumping the gun’ by adding the whole of Greece to the quarantine list.

Speaking to the BBC, he also said the decision on Portugal had failed to take into account the increased level of testing, which is why England kept the country as an air bridge.

He said: ‘If you test more people, of course, your number of positives per 100,000 would be more just as a product of having tested more people.

‘We don’t want to penalise a country for doing the right thing, what we’re additionally interested in is how many of those tests were actually positive, so it’s getting that and in addition how it’s been treated, how fast it’s moving and whether the government in that country has a plan in place and many other factors that have to do with it.’

Boris Johnson downplayed divisions across the UK and insisted the four nations ‘overwhelmingly’ took the same approach.

Tourists were reported to have shelled out as much as £1,000 for an early return flight home before quarantine kicked in.

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