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Spain quarantine decision a ‘hammer blow’ for airlines says Aberdeen airport chiefs

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Aberdeen airport chiefs have described the decision to force holidaymakers to quarantine after returning from Spain as a “hammer blow that could not have come at a worse time”.

The Scottish Government announced the move on Saturday night, just days after the rule was relaxed, amid rising numbers of cases in the popular holiday destination.

Travellers from all over the UK will now have to quarantine for two weeks when they return from Spain.

UK adds Spain to quarantine list: What does this mean for holidaymakers?

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS airports which owns and operates Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, yesterday blasted the move as he described the impact on the struggling industry.

He said: “Public safety must always come first, but the resumption of blanket quarantine measures for those travelling to Spain is a hammer blow and could not come at a worst time.

“This decision clearly highlights the need to have robust testing measures in place that will deliver confidence for our passengers and airline partners while providing the necessary assurances for both the UK and Scottish governments.

“There is simply no way we can operate in such an unpredictable environment, where decisions regarding one of the UK’s most important tourism destinations change by the week – we must have consistency.

“The aviation industry is facing unprecedented challenges, which is evident in the thousands of jobs already lost and the many more… at risk.“

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called for the evidence behind the “shambolic” turnaround to be clarified.

Mr Rennie, in a letter to the first minister, has called on her to publish the data that led to Saturday’s decision, just three days after the country was initially given the exemption.

In his letter, Mr Rennie said: “It is little surprise that you were obliged to reverse that decision on Saturday evening. This is now a shambolic situation and there is a big question as to how Scottish ministers have made such poor-quality decisions.

“I must ask again – why did you release the quarantine from Spain when the infection rate was many times higher than when you imposed the quarantine?

“If it was not safe to lift the quarantine measures three weeks ago, how had it been judged safe to do so… this week?”

The decision to exempt Spain earlier this week was taken when the data showed there was an improvement in the spread of the virus. The latest data has given us cause for concern to overturn that decision.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf

He added: “Please publish the detailed science which led you to the decision.”

Nicola Sturgeon urged caution over booking holidays abroad on Wednesday, as the quarantine rules could be forced to change at short notice.

Over the weekend, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf added: “The decision to exempt Spain earlier this week was taken when the data showed there was an improvement in the spread of the virus. The latest data has given us cause for concern to overturn that decision.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Our overriding priority is public safety and continuing to suppress the virus. Where evidence emerges that causes concern – as it has done in Spain – we must act quickly.

“The situation… can change rapidly and the first minister has advised that a cautious approach should be taken to foreign travel.”

Government will not apologise for swift action taken on Spain, says Raab

Yesterday, the justice secretary tweeted that data belonged to the UK Government and therefore cannot be released by Holyrood.

Scotland had recorded just four new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours yesterday, as no new deaths were reported for the 10th day in a row.

Scottish Government data showed that just 0.2% of the 9,106 tests done in the preceding day came back positive.

The number of deaths in Scotland also remains at 2,491, with the last death by that measure – which requires a confirmed Covid-19 case – having been reported on July 16.

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