Ministers face fresh calls on coronavirus testing at airports

Scottish Labour is demanding ministers introduce a 'robust' system, with passengers tested on arrival with follow-up checks later.

Ministers face fresh calls on coronavirus testing at airports SNS Group
Edinburgh: The airport's chief executive said the 'quarantine policy is a travel ban in all but name'.

The Scottish Government is facing renewed calls to introduce a coronavirus testing regime for airports.

Labour is demanding ministers introduce a “robust” system, with passengers tested on arrival in Scotland with follow-up checks carried out later.

Party transport spokesman Colin Smyth insisted such a scheme was needed after the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown caused job losses across the aviation sector – with economists warning more could be a risk.

The Fraser of Allander Institute think tank warned in July that thousands more positions could be at risk, amidst the ongoing crisis.

Smyth insisted that the current Scottish Government quarantine system – which sees those arriving in Scotland from countries deemed to be Covid-19 hotspots required to self isolate for 14 days – was “not fit for purpose”.

And he will use a debate at Holyrood on Wednesday to demand the Scottish Government introduces airport testing as an alternative to this.

He also wants ministers to work with trade unions to develop a specific package of support for the aviation industry.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Smyth said: “Scotland’s aviation sector is among the industries hit the hardest by Covid-19, with many jobs already lost – and up to around 5000 now at risk.

“This will have a knock-on effect on our tourism sector in the short and long terms, and we simply can’t afford to stand by.

“That is why Scottish Labour is calling for the Scottish Government to work with the aviation sector and the relevant trade unions in Scotland to agree on a specific package of support for the industry.

“We are also calling for an urgent review of the existing quarantine system, which is clearly not fit for purpose.

“It’s time for the Scottish Government to introduce a robust regime of airport testing on arrival – with follow-up testing at home.”

The debate comes after Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar insisted that the “quarantine policy is a travel ban in all but name”.

In a letter to the Scottish Government, he said: “If we are to live with Covid-19 for months and years to come then this is simply not a sustainable approach.

“We need a robust testing regime that protects public health and provides confidence and reassurance to those who need and wish to travel.”