Scots are being urged once more to rethink plans for a holiday abroad this summer.
Both Deputy First Minister John Swinney and NHS Grampian’s head of health intelligence Jillian Evans stressed that just because restrictions have eased, people should not rush to book a trip to the sun.
Ms Evans said it would be “best to avoid” foreign travel at the moment, and argued that it would be better to wait until more people have had both doses of their vaccination.
She also suggested the traffic light system – which lays out when holiday-makers need to quarantine – is too confusing.
Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Ms Evans said: “It is all about timing as far as I’m concerned, and what we need to do is make sure that we have most of our population covered by two doses and that’s what I would prefer to see before people start thinking about their summer holidays.
“I understand, sitting here in the rain, how relaxing and how attractive and seductive it is to think about your summer holidays, but it would be far better and far safer to do the cautious thing now and plan your summer holiday for next year.”
‘Keep faith with the vaccine’
A traffic lights travel system came into force on May 17 with travellers visiting green countries not required to quarantine upon their return. Passengers must complete a passenger locator form and have a negative test result before flying.
People who return to Scotland from an orange country must self-isolate for 10 days while those coming back from a red destination must quarantine at a hotel.
Ms Evans said she felt the traffic lights system is very confusing and that it would be “best to avoid” holidays to all foreign countries.
She added: “I think the whole amber listing is the most stressful thing of all, and why would you plan and risk your holiday knowing that you might not be able to get your money back if you’re not able to go?
“It will be some time before we have our adult population covered. It won’t be until August/September time. So, people really are at risk, particularly of this new variant and of course the possibility of other new variants.
“I really hope that people keep faith with the vaccine, it is the route out of it, and I know people say that a lot, but it is true. It’s the thing that will afford us the most protection.”
Travel is allowed but not recommended
Mr Swinney, who was last week appointed as Covid Recovery Secretary, was questioned about the government’s advice on foreign holidays during the programme.
He said: “We’ve put in place a set of arrangements designed to enable travel when it is required to be undertaken by individuals, where it is safe for that to be the case. There are obviously many reasons why individuals have to make travel, not all of it is about going on holiday.
“We’re trying to create pathways for essential travel, but our advise to people is they should observe that essential travel element and should not be undertaking non-essential international travel at this particular time.
“People have got to make their choices, we do live in a free society and we are trying to enable people to get back to some form of normality after a period of severe constraint.”
“But we are appealing to people, given the fragility of the situation that we are in, in relation to the pandemic, to exercise due caution and to take steps that will minimise the risk of any circulation of the virus and to minimise travel that is not absolutely essential in the coming period.”