Nicola Sturgeon has defended her decision to reimpose quarantine restrictions on travellers from Spain and said the travel rules “are not set in stone”.
The First Minister said she does not think it was mistake to add the country to her list of “air bridge” destinations last week and said the rules “aren’t entirely black and white”.
The decision was announced just days after the Scottish Government said it would allow people to travel to Spain without any restrictions.
That rule was confirmed last Monday but on Saturday evening the Scottish Government said a recent spike in Covid-19 cases in Spain meant visitors to the popular holiday destination need to isolate for two weeks on their return.
Sturgeon told STV News: “I don’t think it was a mistake. These things aren’t entirely straightforward or black and white.
“We’re dealing with a situation which is inherently uncertain and unpredictable right now.
‘When we added Spain to the exempt list and made that announcement about a week ago, the days that followed I was at pains to tell people that it was not set in stone for any country.’Nicola Sturgeon
“When we added Spain to the exempt list and made that announcement about a week ago, the days that followed I was at pains to tell people that it was not set in stone for any country.
“I have, on a number of occasions, advised people to be cautious right now about non essential foreign travel because the fact that a country is exempt from the quarantine procedures, when you leave to go to that country there is no guarantee that it will still be expert when you come back and nor is the guarantee the rules and regulations in a particular country change while you are there.
“We are dealing with a virus that does not behave entirely predictably so there is always going to be uncertainty.”
Many holidaymakers did not let the decision get in the way of their trip as they arrived at Edinburgh Airport on Monday.
One traveller said: “Nicola Strugeon says a 14 day quarantine when you come back. I’m accepting that but I’m really excited to go on holiday.
‘I’m disappointed because the only reason we booked this holiday was because they had lifted the restrictions for quarantine otherwise we would have never booked to go.’Holidaymaker at Edinburgh Airport
“I’m not nervous about going over it’s just about coming back all the quarantine and that. Saturday night I could have cancelled it but I’m just desperate to get away.”
Another added: “I’m disappointed because the only reason we booked this holiday was because they had lifted the restrictions for quarantine otherwise we would have never booked to go.
“It is what it is I suppose. I’m just hoping by the time we get back that’ll have changed.”
Jet2 has announced it is suspending flights to some destinations in Spain and the Algarve in Portugal up to August 16.
The low-cost airline said: “Following the latest government advice regarding travel to Mainland Spain from the UK, we have taken the decision to suspend our flights and holidays programme to Costa de Almeria, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia from July 28 up to and including August 16.
“Jet2 are continuing to operate their scheduled programme to and from the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands and it says their “usual terms and conditions apply”.
Meanwhile Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said “practical solutions” are needed to help people who could face a “significant loss of income” as a result of having to self-isolate for two weeks.
He urged ministers to set up a hotline for those affected by the quarantine decision.
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf conceded there are “lessons to learn” after the decision to remove Spain from the list.
He said the change was made after “deeply alarming” data emerged showing cases almost doubling in Spain.
Rennie said the Scottish Government’s decision-making on the issue has been “shambolic and avoidable”, adding there was evidence of a surge in cases in Spain before the decision to lift quarantine requirements was made.
“We need some practical solutions to support those travellers who jumped at the opportunity to go to Spain only to find themselves facing a fortnight off work in isolation,” he said.
“For many, this could mean a significant loss of income.
“The people who need help are those who left for holiday to Spain last week because they were told by the Scottish Government there would be no requirement to quarantine on their return.”
He added: “The Scottish Government should put in place a hotline to help workers directly affected and whose employers cannot afford to have them off work.
“The reduction in earnings imposed by going on to statutory sick pay can be huge at a time when household incomes are strained.
“The Scottish Government need to take responsibility for their error and ensure that people are supported.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme earlier, Yousaf acknowledged how “frustrating and disappointing” the situation is for many tourists but said travel during the pandemic will always have an element of risk.