'Don't book a summer holiday': Quarantine hotels will remain for 'quite some time', John Swinney says

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has cautioned Scots not to book early summer holidays yet, adding that quarantine hotels will be in operation for “quite some time".

Asked about holiday companies advertising packages abroad as early as the middle of May, Mr Swinney told the coronavirus briefing on Monday that he didn’t think it was a "good idea”.

He advised Scots not to book holidays yet, and added that the quarantine hotel system will be in operation for “quite some time” in order to prevent re-introduction of the virus from other countries where suppression had not been as effective.

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“I think we’re far too early in this process, and if we are interested in taking the sustained measures to try to suppress the pandemic, package holidays don’t strike me as being a thing that’s going to help us in that endeavour,” he said.

People socially distancing on Palma's City Beach. Picture: Ruairidh Mason
People socially distancing on Palma's City Beach. Picture: Ruairidh Mason

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“I can’t absolutely predict, but I think quarantine hotels are going to be with us for quite some time, to give us the ability to protect the progress that we are making in Scotland to suppress the virus because there will be other countries around the world which may not be as successful as we are, and we want to protect ourselves against importation of the virus.

“Where it’s a package holiday I would counsel against it, and quarantine hotels I think are going to be around for quite some time to come.”

Under the quarantine hotel scheme, international arrivals to Scotland are required to isolate in a hotel for a period of ten days, with some exceptions. The measure costs £1,750 for an individual traveller.

Cyprus’s deputy tourism minister said on Thursday that the country will open its borders to vaccinated Britons from the beginning of May.

In response to the announcement, Nicola Sturgeon said she is hopeful a certification scheme could allow vaccinated holidaymakers to journey abroad at some point, but warned Scotland is still “some way away” from such a programme.

Airlines and travel firms have reported a recent surge in summer bookings from customers in the UK, after an announcement from Boris Johnson suggested international travel from England could be allowed to resume from May 17.

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