Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apparently ruled out further extending the self-isolation period for UK arrivals because of concerns for the travel industry.
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford had both called for UK arrivals to quarantine until the results of a day eight test.
But a Downing Street spokesperson said that would have a ‘detrimental effect’ on the travel industry.
Instead, the UK has introduced mandatory PCR tests, to be taken on or before the second day in the country, and arrivals will be required to self-isolate until they get their result. The new rule came into effect a 4am today.
The Downing Street spokesperson said: “We believe that the approach we’ve taken is the proportionate one to the evidence that we currently have available about this variant.
“Introducing further isolation requirements and testing requirements would have a detrimental effect on the travel industry and indeed those who are planning to go travelling.”
Joanne Dooey, President of The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), said: “The Omicron variant is already here in Scotland and it has been established that most of those who have this variant did not travel, picking it up via community transmission.
“Travel bans or eight-day self-isolation periods do not stop it, so it’s hard to see how these measures, if implemented now, will have an impact.
“It seems that the UK government has reached the same conclusion as Number 10 which has turned down the request for a Cobra meeting of the four nations to discuss this further saying that extending the requirements would have a ‘’detrimental effect’ on the travel industry.
“The rapid reintroduction of six South African red list countries and mandatory quarantine in hotels is not good for customer confidence. However, the vast majority of destinations require only a two-day period of self-isolation and a negative PCR test and many travellers will feel this is achievable for them if they want to, or need to, travel.
“Professor of Public Health, Linda Bauld has said that it is highly probable that the current vaccine would offer protection against the new variant – but that we would find out more in the next week or so as tests were being carried out. We in the travel sector trust testing and trust the vaccines.
“The Scottish travel sector lives in hope that our First Minister won’t decide to introduce Scottish border controls which deviate from the four nations agreements.”