Coronavirus in Scotland: Passengers sent from Edinburgh to Glasgow for hotel quarantine to cut costs

The reason for international arrivals to Edinburgh being sent to Glasgow this week for their hotel quarantine period is to cut costs, the Scottish Government has said.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Edinburgh Airport which is being used to quarantine passengers as travellers flying directly into Scotland on international flights have to self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel room. Picture date: Monday February 15, 2021.

Passengers from a number of flights which arrived to Edinburgh Airport this week have been sent to the Holiday Inn in Glasgow by bus to undertake their quarantine.

Several were told they were being sent to Glasgow because the quarantine hotels in Edinburgh were full, but a spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport said this was not the case.

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While one hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton, may be full, they said, there are two others in Edinburgh which have been secured for quarantining but which remain empty.

Suggestions were also made that the move was due to shortages of G4S security staff in Edinburgh, but a spokesperson categorically denied this, saying the reason for transfer from Edinburgh to Glasgow had “nothing to do with” the firm.

The Scottish Government has now confirmed the reason for transferring new arrivals is to reduce the cost of the programme.

A spokesperson said moving passengers to the Holiday Inn in Glasgow avoids the “additional costs” of opening a second hotel in Edinburgh to quarantine.

"The managed isolation system has been designed to flex to meet varying demand and some travellers arriving in Edinburgh over the next few days will be accommodated at the Glasgow hotel to avoid opening an additional hotel and incurring additional costs,” a spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport said the decision to transport passengers from one city to another was “quite surprising”, given that “a further two hotels in Edinburgh have already been reserved but now lie completely empty.”

They added: ”It highlights more issues with a policy which has already created confusion for airlines, airports and passengers."

Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, asked why the Scottish Government is “making things harder” for passengers already under stress.

“The quarantine arrangements are necessary but also very stressful for families - so there are questions to answer about why we are making things even harder by forcing passengers to go to Glasgow hotels instead,” he said.

“That not only causes further inconvenience, the whole point of quarantining close to the arrival point is to reduce the risk of transmission.

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One Scottish seafarer who works in offshore oil and gas and had returned from working in Brazil said he was “embarrassed” by the hotel quarantine system after being sent from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

“It’s been a very messy process,” he said, adding that Brazil “puts on a much better show” with regard to quarantine for international arrivals.

“There was an embarrassment of being a Scotsman welcoming these foreigners in our place,” he said.

The transfer from Edinburgh to Glasgow meant passengers came into contact with a “ridiculous” number of people, he said.

He added that while is used to spartan conditions, he does not believe the £1,750 fee should be charged regardless of the type of hotel, referring to the change from a Doubletree to a Holiday Inn.

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