Just over 50 people have been visited by Police Scotland as part of efforts to ensure travellers are following quarantine restrictions, the chief constable has said.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Iain Livingstone said a total of around 200 people had been contacted by the police due to possible breaches, with more than a quarter of those “physically attended” by officers.
The Scottish Government’s system around enforcing quarantine has come under criticism with opposition parties claiming too few people are contacted by the police and Public Health Scotland (PHS).
The comments came after justice secretary Humza Yousaf was unable to provide the same figures to the Health and Sport committee in Holyrood.
Mr Yousaf was accused of “not being on top of his brief” with the evidence session labelled “chaotic” by opposition parties.
Mr Livingstone said the numbers were a “very very small amount” of the number of people quarantining and said throughout the pandemic the police have dealt with 65,000 potential breaches of all Covid-19 related laws with just 3,500 fixed penalty notices handed out.
He said: "Policing is very much the backstop in regard to quarantine regulations and requirements.
"The way we deal with them is we try and do some follow up initially through a contact by the control centres in terms of telephone contact.
"If that is not possible we will deploy officers and over a quarter of the referrals that we’ve had, we have had officers physically attend and speak to people and it may be that we do a follow-up visits in that regard as well.
"So when you look at the referrals we’ve had regarding quarantine they are a very very small amount. We are there as a backstop to encourage and make sure people do do the right thing when there is absolute blatant flouting of the law but our approach to quarantine is the same, as I’ve said a number of times right throughout this period, that we will seek to encourage people to do the right thing.”
Nicola Sturgeon added that policing quarantine restrictions is a “last resort”.
Outlining the contact system, she said PHS contact all travellers who are required to quarantine by email followed by telephone calls to a random sample of people.
The First Minister repeated the targets set by PHS included 20 per cent of travellers up to a maximum of 450 people, a target she said they are exceeding with 959 travellers contacted in the week up to the 23 August.
She said: “To give that a bit of context and not because it is a competition but to give it context, almost a thousand travellers were contacted that random way by PHS in the most recent week.
"Public Health England samples around 1,000 eligible arrivals per day into all airports in England and Northern Ireland so obviously proportionately there we are seeking to make sure we have got a robustness into what we are doing here.
"Then if there is a concern that PHS have that is when they would refer it on to the police and police would take the follow-up action the chief constable has outlined.”