The Scottish Government is investigating the circumstances around an international passenger being “wrongly advised” that he needed to quarantine upon arrival in Scotland.
Chun Wong and his daughter Kiernan, eight, arrived at Edinburgh airport on Monday and were set to spend ten days self-isolating in a nearby hotel.
But Mr Wong and Kiernan – who arrived in Scotland from the United States via Dublin – were subsequently told they could leave the hotel and complete quarantine at home in Fife due to a loophole with their arrival.
All passengers arriving in Scotland on international flights have to enter “managed isolation”, unless they are coming from within the Common Travel Area, which includes the UK and Ireland.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are looking into the circumstances that led to Mr Wong being wrongly advised he needed to book a managed isolation package and would like to thank the family for their patience.
“This is a very new system, being implemented at pace, and some initial challenges are to be expected.
“However, once the error was identified, the family were contacted and advised they could make alternative arrangements for their self-isolation period.
“We are following up with the travel management company to ensure a full refund is provided to Mr Wong.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed concern about gaps in the current system for international arrivals, telling a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Monday: “It would be better if we had that four nations approach, or at least a three nations approach where the border of the island that Scotland, England and Wales share, had the same provisions in place.”
And transport secretary Michael Matheson on Tuesday denied the Scottish Government had changed its policy in relation to international passengers arriving in the country via the Common Travel Area.
He tweeted: “This is incorrect. All international flights arriving directly into Scottish airports from out with the Common Travel Area are covered by the managed isolation regulations. There has been no change in policy.”
Mr Wong told the BBC that he had received a call from reception saying a man from the airport would like to talk to him.
“He (the receptionist) said that since I landed in Dublin first and then got a connecting flight to here, I was not required to quarantine in a hotel,” said Mr Wong.
“I still have to quarantine and do the self-testing kit on the second and eighth day, but they said it was an error on their part.
“Danielle (Mr Wong’s wife) has been calling the government every day, and unfortunately every day there were different answers.
“There was a big level of grey. It seems like one department did not get the full picture from other departments.
“At the end of the day, she got official word that since I’m coming from the USA I have to quarantine. It doesn’t matter that it’s a connecting flight. But now, as it appears, that is not the case.”
A spokesman for Edinburgh airport said Mr Wong received inaccurate advice and accused the Scottish Government of causing “confusion” with its quarantine policy.
The spokesman said: “We are delighted that the Wong family have been reunited after 16 months apart and we wish them well in their new life in Scotland.
“As Mr Wong himself has stated, he and his wife received inaccurate advice from the government which shows the confusion this policy has created.
“It is a clear example of the loophole that our governments have created in action and they should work together to close it before this happens again.”
People flying directly into a Scottish airport on international flights have to self-isolate for ten days in a quarantine hotel room, under new regulations taking effect on Monday.
Unless exempt, a passenger will have to pay £1750 to quarantine in a room at one of six designated hotels in a bid to avoid importation of the virus.
In England, the UK Government will only require hotel quarantine for visitors from a “red list” of 33 countries designated as high risk, meaning travellers arriving from elsewhere could avoid it by entering Scotland via England.
Visitors would still have to self-isolate for the ten-day period, but would not have to do so at one of the designated hotels due to a lack of agreement between the Scottish and Westminster governments.
The Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman Graham Simpson said Mr Wong and his daughter “should never have been put in a hotel in the first place”, adding that the quarantine scheme had been a “shambles”.
Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said the policy had “fallen flat at the first hurdle”.
He added: “Thrown together at the last minute, these travel plans were always going to struggle to be effective in any meaningful way, with no effective checks and balances in place yet.”
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