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Travel agents call for 'detailed roadmap' after pre-departure testing announcement


Scottish travel agents have welcomed the decision from the UK and Scottish governments to require international passenger arrivals at airports and ports to present a negative Covid-19 rest result on arrival into the UK.

However, concerns have been raised around the lack of a detailed roadmap to reopen international travel.

Earlier today, the Scottish Government stated that passengers travelling to Scotland from abroad will be required to have proof of a negative test taken a maximum of 72 hours before travel.

Set to be introduced as soon as practically possible, the new rule aims to strengthen current safeguards against imported cases and in particular new strains of coronavirus such as those identified in Denmark and South Africa.

Those coming from countries not on the quarantine exemption list will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Travel into or out of Scotland is currently illegal and that will remain the case while we work to suppress the new strain of Covid-19.

“It is important to emphasise that this additional measure does not remove the requirement for all passengers arriving from countries not on the quarantine exemption list to self-isolate for ten days, even with a negative test.

“Likewise, all passengers will continue to have to complete a Passenger Locator Form and, of course, they will be subject to national lockdown restrictions, which currently bar people from leaving their home or other fixed address without a reasonable excuse for doing so.”

The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) stated that this is only the first step to stimulating travel, and that the quarantine period which is still required on arrival needs to be addressed.

SPAA president Joanne Dooey commented: “Our members have been lobbying for a robust, effective testing regime and this will undoubtedly be an excellent first step towards this and will hopefully help to prevent the transmission of any new variants of the virus within the UK.

“However, this new test requirement does not remove the mandatory 10-day self-isolation period for all international travellers arriving here from countries without a travel corridor.”

She called for agreed international standards and protocols, with a list of acceptable tests which can be adopted in UK.

“This new requirement is due to be brought in next week, but at the moment there’s no indication from the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps of which tests are valid and acceptable,” continued Dooey.

“Importantly, over and above this short-term measure, the travel industry needs a comprehensive, internationally-agreed, strategic plan for how we can return to travelling both in the period before the vaccination programme is complete and in the period beyond this.

“The Scottish economy needs its travel industry in order to drive economic recovery,” she added.

Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, urged the UK and Scottish governments to work together to lay out a detailed roadmap to reopen international travel.

“They must confirm a timeline for these strict measures which do not replace current quarantine requirements – these strict measures, which will make travel virtually impossible, must only be temporary and only running as an emergency measure in tandem with the full national lockdown.”

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She demanded that the UK and Scottish governments must take steps to engage in meaningful conversations with industry leaders over these next few weeks in order to agree on a plan that can permit the gradual restart of international travel and allow the travel industry to recover.

“In addition, there must also be a common approach within the UK for all travel guidance moving forward

“It is impractical for the four nations to continue to make separate decisions and issue disjointed guidance – this would further hamper recovery for both inbound and outbound travel.”



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