As many as 1,200 passengers arriving in Scotland could have to check into quarantine hotels every week, though the Transport Secretary has admitted the policy could see flights into the country axed.
Michael Matheson said airlines believe the demand for direct flights from overseas into Scotland will “drop off dramatically” as a result of the tougher stance being imposed north of the border than elsewhere in the UK.
The UK Government will require travellers from 33 “red list” countries to isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel, but Holyrood ministers will insist all passengers arriving in Scotland from abroad must do so.
Mr Matheson said the policy, which comes into effect from Monday, will see travellers having to pay £1,750 for the compulsory stay in a hotel.
Asked how many people could be affected by the new policy, he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “On the basis of the figures from those who were travelling last week into Scotland, which was around 1,600. If you take out those who would be subject to an exemption, we estimate there would be the need for potentially around 1,200 individuals to self-isolate in a managed quarantine facility.
“One of the things that may happen as a result of the policy we have taken forward, is that some of the airlines may choose to draw back on their international flights into Scotland.
“And there is some indication that the airlines may choose to cancel their flights coming into Scotland next week as a result of the managed isolation provision we have put in place, on the basis that they believe the demand for those flights is going to drop off dramatically as a result.”
His comments came as it was reported that of the 247 flights due to land at Scottish airports next week, just 19 are scheduled to arrive from overseas.
Mr Matheson also said that not all international arrivals will have to quarantine.
“There will be some level of exemptions provided for individuals that are involved in critical national infrastructure,” he said.
“We’re looking at particular aspects around the oil and gas sector and also around areas such as defence and areas of critical infrastructure as well.”
Six hotels, near to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, have been block-booked to house travellers quarantining – with a combined total of up to 1,300 rooms available.
Announcing the policy to MSPs on Tuesday, Mr Matheson insisted the “reactive” approach taken by the UK on international travel is “no longer sufficient to provide the protection necessary”.
He said: “That’s why the Scottish Government wants a comprehensive approach to managed isolation.”