Scots race home after overnight changes to quarantine list

Prices skyrocket as thousands of tourists try to find a way back to Scotland.

Scots face a race against time to return home from France, the Netherlands and Malta after the countries were added to the quarantine list.

Travellers returning from the destinations, who arrive in the United Kingdom after 4am on Saturday, will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

A speedy return comes at a cost – British tourists in France are being charged hundreds of pounds to return home before quarantine restrictions are imposed.

Air fares are more than six times higher than normal for flights from Paris to London on Friday, with the cheapest British Airways tickets being sold for £452. The lowest priced Eurostar tickets available on Friday morning are £210.

Travellers willing to pay these inflated fares could still miss out due to many services already being fully booked. An estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to try to return to the UK from France on Friday.

The decision by the Scottish Government, also made by the UK Government and devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales, aims to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus by those travelling.

The public health measures now also apply to those arriving from Aruba, Turks and Caicos, and Monaco.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We have always been clear we are closely monitoring the situation in all countries and that we may need to take action to remove a country from the list of places exempt from quarantine requirements should the virus show a resurgence.

“These are not decisions which we take lightly but on the basis of the evidence it is important that we take action to suppress transmission of the virus and protect public health.”

Failure to comply with requirement to quarantine can result in a fine of £480.

Department for Transport officials said data from France shows that over the past week there has been a 66% increase in newly reported Covid-19 cases and a 52% increase in the weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in infections.

The latest 14-day cumulative figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show 32.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.

The move will come as a bitter blow to the hard-pressed French tourism industry which relies heavily on visitors from the UK.

France’s secretary of state for European affairs said the UK decision would lead to “reciprocal measures” across the Channel.

The decision to add the Netherlands was made after a 52% increase in newly reported cases between August 7 and 13 after a consistent series of rises in previous weeks.

Over the past week, there has been a 273% increase in newly reported cases in Turks and Caicos, a 1106% increase in Aruba and a 105% rise in Malta.

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