Covid-19 border controls come with a £480 fine for breaking quarantine

Justice Secretary Humza YousafJustice Secretary Humza Yousaf
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf
Breaking a compulsory 14-day quarantine after arriving in Scotland could see visitors forced to pay a £480 fine, as new border controls come into force today (Monday).

Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said that Police Scotland would levy the fines for breaches of travel quarantine rules – which could rise to £5000 if a person is prosecuted.

There will also be a £60 fine if a person fails to provide information to UK Border Force about where they will be staying throughout their visit.

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The level for violating isolation has been set at £1000 in England but Mr Yousaf said it was lower in Scotland as any fine of £500 and over would immediately trigger a report to the Procurator Fiscal, which would not be a “proportionate response”.

Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing in St Andrew’s House on Sunday, Mr Yousaf said the quarantine measured were “broadly similar” across the UK and were needed to control “the spread of infection at a time when levels of infection in Scotland are falling”.

Stressing that the measures in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, are temporary, he said: “From tomorrow anyone travelling to Scotland from abroad must self-isolate on arrival for 14 days, a timescale which reflects the incubation period for the virus.

“Arrivals to Scotland must fill in a passenger locator form before they travel, including details of where they will isolate and how they can be contacted. The Border Force will be responsible for enforcing this requirement through spot checks.

“The regulations, which will come into force tomorrow, will also provide powers for police officers to issue a fixed penalty notice to anyone failing to comply with self-isolation conditions, and the ability to report persistent offenders to the Procurator Fiscal for potential prosecution. As with current regulations these will only be used when absolutely necessary.”

He said the £60 fine for failing to fill in a passenger locator form would be enforced by the UK Border Force, and could be reduced to £30 for prompt payment. However it would be Police Scotland who would monitor whether someone had broken quarantine and should face the £480 fine.

“I’m sure they will act as a deterrent and we will see good levels of compliance,” he said.

Asked why the fines were lower in Scotland than in England where even the breach of entry form is £100, he said: “In terms of the Border Force offence, that aligns with our coronavirus regulations in Scotland, and because of different legal jurisdictions across the UK, there are different fine levels at which you report to the Procurator Fiscal. That threshold in Scotland is £500 so a £1000 fine would have to be reported to the fiscal which doesn’t seem a proportionate step to take as a first enforcement measure.”

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It was also revealed that if international travellers are unable to safely self-isolate where they are planning to stay on arrival, accommodation will be provided through the UK Government.

Mr Yousaf said that while the government recognised that Scotland’s tourism industry had been “hard hit” by the pandemic, it was still essential to restrict travel, and said there was “unprecedented financial support for businesses” affected.

The Justice Secretary was also quizzed about people congregating outside pubs, as has happened over the weekend, and he warned that new lockdown restriction guidance could still be put into law.

“A number of takeaways have been open for a number of months now because of the exceptions that existed, so people congregating outside is not a new issue,” he said. “Police Scotland have and will always, take a proportionate response to that. If we have to look at further messaging as people congregate outdoors we will look to do that. On considerations of whether we have to move guidance to regulation we will wait and see how this weekend pans out.

“I spoke to the Chief Constable today and, while we will have to wait and see what the figures are tomorrow, initial indications are that there has been significantly less need for police to use enforcement measures this weekend compared to last weekend.”

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