Scotland will adopt a similar traffic light system to the one due to come into force in England from 17 May, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said, although she has encouraged Scots to holiday at home at home this summer.
At a Covid briefing on Tuesday (11 May), Sturgeon confirmed the country would implement a regime similar to that outlined in full by UK transport secretary Grant Shapps late last week.
The devolved administrations, such as Scotland, have been free throughout the Covid crisis to implement their own policy on international travel.
Sturgeon said the country’s initial green list would feature 12 countries and territories, mirroring the one set out by the UK government on Friday.
It means Scots should shortly be able to travel to the four viable destinations – Portugal, Israel, Iceland and Gibraltar – on the list.
In a statement, the Scottish government said: "From 17 May, anyone entering Scotland from countries on a new international travel green list will not be required to quarantine on arrival, but will have to take a PCR test for Covid-19.
"The green list will initially be the same as that in place for England, but will be subject to review based on Scotland’s specific needs."
Sturgeon added: “We still intend to be highly cautious on international travel, given the risk of new variants, but we consider the situation now allows us to begin a careful move away from blanket restrictions on non-essential travel.
"Everyone should think seriously about whether they really need to travel abroad this summer. I know for many people international travel is about family connections. But when it comes to holidays abroad, my advice continues to be to err on the side of caution and to staycation this summer.”
Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association president Joanne Dooey said: “It’s a relief for the entire travel sector that limited international travel will be permitted from 17 May, in Scotland in a four nations approach.”
However, she said there were limited flights to green-light countries from Scotland and some green-light countries were not currently permitting entry for UK travellers.
“The inclusion of Portugal on this list is very significant and important for Scotland – it’s one of the most popular holiday destinations for Scots, ranking in the top choices along with Spain, Greece and Turkey,” she added.
“We expect to see airlines and operators transferring any spare capacity to flights to Portugal this summer and consequently travel agents across Scotland are ready to advise travellers and to help them to make their plans safely.”
She added the cost of PCR testing was “too high”, adding affordable antigen and lateral flow test could be used.
Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson said: “We have long been advocating for consistency across the four nations and we urge the Scottish government to continue taking this approach when it comes to travel.
“Both the inbound and outbound travel industries are interconnected across the UK and having consistency will be critical when it comes to recovery. For our customers, having one clear message is important to support confidence.
“The Scottish government must also confirm its plans regarding the digital health passport and how we may utilise the NHS app to track vaccine status and negative testing for travel abroad.”
Abta said it welcomed the first minister’s confirmation of a 17 May resumption of international travel. "We have been calling for a broad alignment across the four nations and a coordinated approach on international travel, and it is welcome that the first minister also signalled today an intention to follow this approach, while reserving the right to diverge, where necessary," said Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer. "We now look ahead to the next review of the country lists, where we hope more destinations will be opened up.
"Outbound travel is worth nearly £2 billion to the Scottish economy every year, and also underpins the viability of routes that bring valuable visitors to Scotland. It is important that the Scottish government continues to engage with and support the industry through to recovery.”
Sturgeon said the country’s traffic light system would be based on the prevalence of Covid-19 in the country people are returning from.
In England, countries categorised green have no return quarantine requirement; arrivals must take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test by the end of the second day of their return.
Arrivals from amber list countries must self-isolate at home for 10 days and take PCR tests on days two and eight, while red list arrivals must self-isolate in government-appointed hotel quarantine and also take tests on days two and eight.