Thousands of travellers in hotel quarantine stopped just 76 Covid-19 cases
Airport bosses have hit out after it emerged just 1 per cent of all travellers forced into hotel quarantine tested positive for Covid-19.
Data released under Freedom of Information rules showed that a total of 7,323 people were forced to spend two weeks in ‘managed isolation’ between February 15 and June 22, with just 76 testing positive for the virus.
The system has been criticised as too stringent by the aviation and tourism industry, with Edinburgh Airport stating the figures show that hotel quarantine was a “blunt approach”.
Since May 17, travellers arriving into Scotland from ‘red list’ countries such as Brazil, India or South Africa have been required to spend two weeks in a hotel to quarantine at their own expense.
Prior to this, managed isolation had been required for all arrivals into Scotland from anywhere apart from the Common Travel Area since February 15.
Hotels have been booked out by the Scottish Government for the purpose, with guests required to take a Covid-19 test on the second and eighth day of quarantine.
The requirement costs £1,750 for an adult, with additional adults costing £650 each and children aged between five and 12 costing £325.
The move was widely criticised by the aviation sector during the winter alongside the banning of “non-essential” international travel.
Reacting to the new figures, a spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: "If the Scottish Government engaged with the industry as we asked, then we could have developed a system that was safe, meaningful and measurable instead of this blunt approach which has only identified a handful of cases.
"The industry has gone through months of turmoil leading to job losses across the travel and tourism sectors and the many businesses across Scotland and the islands that rely on international travel. It will require government to work with us to try and ensure that happens."
In total around 1,300 hotel rooms were made available for hotel quarantine by the Scottish Government, but prior to the move to the ‘traffic light’ system in May, just over half – 682 – had been used across three hotels in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The hotel quarantine policy was also directly blamed for the cancellation of a major route between Edinburgh and Istanbul, with an Edinburgh Airport spokesperson stating at the time the decision was a “direct consequence” of the policy.
The statistics also come after national clinical director Jason Leitch told younger Scots they should ensure they are vaccinated if they want to travel.
Rules around amber list countries will change from Monday, allowing double vaccinated travellers to avoid self-isolation if they return from a country on that list.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Wednesday, Prof Leitch said: “We can't promise people that when they travel the rates won't change. But we have to be able to stop the importation of cases and this is a consequence of that public health advice.
"My advice to everybody over 18 is, if travel is an incentive for you, then here is another reason – if you needed another reason other than the illness – to get yourself vaccinated.”
The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.
Officials had previously said stopping variants entering Scotland with the potential to undermine the success of the vaccination programme was why the rules for red list countries were in place.