Both the Scottish and UK governments have been advising against all but essential travel since March. However, this advice has been lifted for certain destinations that ”no longer pose an unacceptably high risk”. This list previously included Spain and Luxembourg. However, due to an increased number of cases of Covid-19, the decision to include both these destinations has been reversed.
The updated guidelines relating to Spain came into effect from midnight on Sunday 26th July meaning that anyone who is entering the UK from Spain will be required to quarantine for a 14-day period upon return. The same rules will apply to Luxembourg from midnight on Thursday 30th July.
This will also include the requirement to complete a passenger locator form.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“The decision to exempt Spain earlier this week was taken when the data showed there was an improvement in the spread of the virus. But clearly the latest data has given us cause for concern to overturn that decision.
“We appreciate that this will be disappointing. However, we have always been clear we are closely monitoring the pandemic situation in all countries and that we may require to remove a country from the list of places exempt from quarantine requirements should the virus show a resurgence.
“It is still active and it is still deadly. Suppressing the virus, preventing it from being transmitted and protecting public health is our priority.”
In relation to Luxembourg, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the changes in a tweet on Thursday.
“Unfortunately the latest Luxembourg data shows an increase in #COVID19 cases meaning the country will be removed from the travel exemptions list.”
The existing list of overseas destinations where the self-isolation requirements for those arriving in Scotland are exempt IS:
Andorra; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Australia; Austria; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belgium; Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba; Croatia; Curaçao; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Dominica; Faroe Islands; Fiji; Finland; France; French Polynesia; Germany; Greece; Greenland; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Hong Kong; Hungary ; Iceland; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Liechtenstein: Lithuania: Macau; Malta; Mauritius; Monaco; The Netherlands ; New Caledonia; New Zealand; Norway; Poland ; Réunion; San Marino ;Seychelles; St Barthélemy; St Kitts & Nevis; St Lucia; St Pierre and Miquelon; South Korea; Switzerland; Taiwan; Trinidad & Tobago; Turkey; Vatican City State and Vietnam.
The fourteen UK overseas territories also on the list of exemptions are: Akrotiri and Dhekelia; Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
What does this mean for those yet to travel?
If you elect to travel to Spain or Luxembourg and plan on returning to the UK while the rules are in place, this means you will be required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days upon return. This also means the completion of a passenger locator form.
There may also be additional checks to ensure you are adhering to the rules and staying at the location you highlight on the locator form.
Failure to adhere to the restrictions could mean fines for non-compliance, and even court / legal action with increased fines for repeat flouting of the rules.
What does this mean for those returning from Spain and Luxembourg who had travelled before the restrictions were imposed?
Isolation / Returning to work / Employment – You will be required to self-isolate for the 14-day period upon return. This may mean that you will not be able to return to work, potentially meaning that you are away from the workplace for an additional 14-day period.
You should discuss this with your employer in the first instance, highlighting that the decision was made after you had travelled. In some circumstances, you may be able to request to work from home (where possible).
Another option may be to request additional holidays or unpaid leave from your employer to cover the quarantine period.
If your employer cannot facilitate any of these options, you are still NOT allowed to return to work.
In this instance, you may be required to take a period of sickness from work. Due to the duration of quarantine being 14 days, this will require a doctor’s isolation note. You should not attend your GP practise to obtain this, but request this via telephone from your GP surgery, advising that you have travelled from Spain, and you are now required to quarantine due to the risk of coronavirus.
Employment advice agencies are encouraging employers to take individual circumstances into consideration. Employees with high instances of sickness absence on their record who may be at risk of disciplinary action because of additional absence, should highlight the fact that the absence is not through choice, but mandated by the UK / Scottish Government.
Employment Tribunals / early conciliation processes (if it gets to this stage) may take this into consideration in instances for employees who are dismissed due to high absence levels when one of these has been caused by quarantine requirements.
It should be noted that employees with under two years’ service cannot make a claim to an employment tribunal unless discriminated against due to protected characteristics.
The NHS provide very specific advice for those who are required to self-isolate (quarantine):
- do not go to work, school, or public places – work from home if you can
- do not go on public transport or use taxis
- do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
- do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
- do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one
Travellers to the UK, from countries not on the approved list, still face strict quarantine guidelines and are required to provide journey details, contact details and the address where they will self-isolate before entry into the country will be permitted.
Government officials are keen to stress that the virus has not gone away, and all necessary precautions still apply:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissues into a plastic waste bag, and immediately wash your hands.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water, for at least 20 seconds, rinse, and dry thoroughly. Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
The Scottish Governments latest travel guidelines and list of safe destinations can be viewed here:
If you are seeking advice or have been impacted by the coronavirus lockdown, you can contact consumeradvice.scot on 0808 164 6000. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.
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