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Sturgeon urges caution on international travel as rules to be relaxed

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The new rules will come into force on Monday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has urged continued caution from Scots on international travel after plans to relax rules were announced.

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, the First Minister said Scotland would move to a traffic light system, depending on the state of coronavirus in other countries.

People arriving from red list countries will have to enter managed isolation at a designated hotel for 10 days while amber list arrivals will have to self-isolate at home.

From Monday, people coming to Scotland from any of the 12 green list countries and territories will have to take a test when they arrive, but will otherwise be free not to self-isolate.

The countries announced on the green list are Australia, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, St Helena, Accession, Tristan da Cunha, Singapore and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Despite changes to rules on non-essential travel, the First Minister said Scots should “think seriously” about taking holidays.

She urged Scots to “err on the side of caution” after the new traffic light system in Scotland was unveiled.

“Even though the rules on non-essential travel are starting to change, that doesn’t mean we’re saying that non-essential international travel is desirable,” she said.

“Everyone should think seriously about whether they should travel abroad this summer.

“When it comes to holidays abroad, my advice continues to be to err on the side of caution and to staycation this summer.”

The changes also mean the countries of the UK are taking a four nations approach to international travel, bringing them back in line with each other after a few months with different rules.

I need to stress that the Scottish Government will continue to take the decisions we consider to be right for Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister said this may not be the case forever, saying: “It has been made possible because the decisions arrived at by the UK Government are appropriately cautious.

“I hope this continues to be the case but I need to stress that the Scottish Government will continue to take the decisions we consider to be right for Scotland – we will not sign up to decisions that might put our progress at risk.”

Ms Sturgeon said there would need to be a “good reason” for countries to move onto the green list, but the British Airline Pilots Association general secretary, Brian Strutton, said this should not be the case.

“No, there needs to be a good reason to keep a country off it,” he said.

“This mindset needs to change.”

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), welcomed the announcement but urged the Scottish Government to add new countries to the green list as soon as possible.

“Ending blanket hotel quarantine measures is a big step forward for Scotland. The Scottish Government’s decision to take a similar risk-based approach as the UK Government is also a vital step to ensuring a four-nation approach as travel restarts.

“Yet despite today’s announcement and Scotland’s successful vaccine rollout, a meaningful restart of aviation is not yet possible because there are so few countries on the green list.”

She added: “The Scottish Government must play its part by adding countries to the green list as soon as the local health situation allows and by introducing rapid, affordable tests for travellers.”

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