Testing row

No quarantine checks on arrivals into Scotland

Jeane Freeman: We were not part of the Home Office system

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw has accused the government of a further failure on testing after the Health Secretary admitted officials have carried out no quarantine checks on visitors arriving into Scotland from overseas.

This is despite travellers arriving elsewhere in the UK being checked at least three times.

Jeane Freeman said staff did not have security clearance to access passenger details so they were unable to check that arrivals were sticking to the rules.

However she added that the security checks were now complete and passenger checks would begin this week.

Under the rules introduced on 8 June to prevent the spread of coronavirus, anyone entering Scotland from abroad must isolate for two weeks or face a £480 fine.

Ms Freeman explained that Public Health Scotland officials needed access to the UK government’s Home Office system which holds information about new arrivals.

“Our officials had to get that necessary security clearance in order to be able to access that data that then allows the follow up calls to be made,” she said.

Jackson Carlaw

Jackson Carlaw: The SNP’s latest failure (pic: Terry Murden)

“That’s now thankfully resolved and those calls begin this week.”

There was no exact date yet for when the calls would begin but she said it would “definitely [be] this week”.

Asked whether Scotland was the only part of the UK where no checks had been made Ms Freeman responded: “I don’t know about Northern Ireland or Wales.

“I know Public Health England have been able to do that, but they are part of the Home Office system. We were not part of the Home Office system.”

One traveller who flew from Madrid to Heathrow and to Edinburgh last week said he has not been checked to find out if he is in quarantine.

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Euan Lynch said in a media interview that his journey home seemed quite “normal” and that the only difference was passengers wore masks. However, most people were sitting side by side.

“They told people to get off a few rows at a time and to maintain 2m distance while on the aisle.

“I thought that was sort of contradictory considering we were sitting side by side on the flight,” he said.

He expected a temperature check when he arrived but there was no test.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said the problems mirrored issues with care home testing and the SNP’s test, trace and isolate scheme.

Mr Carlaw said: “This is just the latest testing and checking failure by the SNP.

“We will not be able to exit lockdown safely until the SNP gets its act together on testing.

“From care homes to NHS workers, the whole testing scheme has been a mess.

“It’s clear that behind Nicola Sturgeon there is an entire team simply not up to the task.”

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