Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries will no longer have to quarantine from 19 July.
The move brings Scotland into line with England – the UK government announced last week that fully vaccinated people would be exempt from quarantine when arriving from amber countries from 19 July.
Sturgeon made the announcement during a special online session of the Scottish parliament to give an update on lifting restrictions from next week.
“From Monday 19 July, self-isolation will no longer be required for people arriving from countries on the amber list, providing they are fully vaccinated through a UK vaccination programme and take a PCR test on the second day after arrival,” said Sturgeon.
“We will continue to take a precautionary approach to the inclusion of countries on the amber list, and notwithstanding this change, we do continue to advise against non-essential overseas travel at this time.”
Sturgeon also confirmed that all parts of Scotland will move to “level zero” on 19 July. But there will be some “modifications” to the originally planned lifting of restrictions.
These will include the continuation of a mandatory face mask policy beyond Monday which Sturgeon said was likely to continue for “some time to come”. This in contrast to England were face masks will no longer be compulsory from 19 July.
Some limits will also be maintained on different households meeting as well as public gatherings both indoors and outdoors.
“We are easing restrictions but not abandoning them,” added Sturgeon, who stressed the importance of a “cautious approach” with cases of the Delta variant still at high levels in Scotland.
She added that lifting further restrictions on 9 August “remains our expectation”, although a final decision will not be made until the week before.
The Scottish government’s move to ease international travel restrictions has been welcomed by trade bodies.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “This is a positive step forward that will provide much more opportunity for families to travel this summer season, and offer greater certainty and reassurance to our passengers looking to get away.
“It must, however, in short time be accompanied by further progress on the green list, opening up many more countries to quarantine-free travel for everyone, as well as testing – with the Scottish government providing more and cheaper options for post-arrival tests.”
Edinburgh airport chief Gordon Dewar said that while the move was a welcome development, the delay in the decision being announced – compared to England – put Scotland’s airports at a disadvantage, with "thousands" of potential family reunions, business trips and holidays already lost to airports south of the border.
"We are also unclear why the science has informed the Scottish government that travelling when double vaccinated is safer, yet it continue to advise against [travelling] – we need to have clear rather than confusing information," said Dewar.
He added: "We must now focus on recovery and understand the government’s route map and plan to retain existing, and attract new, connectivity to help Scotland’s economy rebuild. We must be prepared for the next steps – things like digital access to Covid vaccination and testing packages, as well as the price of testing, must be ready and looked at to aid the safe restart of travel."