Newstalk
Newstalk

15.56 3 Jul 2020


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A row has broken out in Britain between England, Scotland and Wales over the handling of coronavirus travel quarantine.

The first ministers of Scotland and Wales have hit out at the English government's naming of 59 countries deemed to have low rates of the virus.

This means people returning to or visiting England from them will not need to self-isolate.

Reciprocal arrangements between England and other nations on the list have not been confirmed.

Among the countries not on the list are the United States, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The exemptions will apply from July 10th.

Ireland is already exempt as it part of the Common Travel Area with the UK.

But a row has broken out between Westminster and the devolved administrations over the policy, with the UK Department for Transport saying Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will "set out their own approach".

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the way British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has gone about setting up air bridges has been "shambolic".

She acknowledged there are "obvious practical reasons" for a joined up approach on the issue, but criticised the "shifting sands" of the UK policy.

Ms Sturgeon said: "When so much is at stake as it is right now, we can't allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government's shambolic decision process.

"We want to welcome visitors again from around the world and we also want to allow our own citizens to travel.

"We also want, if possible for obvious practical reasons, to have alignment on these matters with the rest of the UK."

This was echoed by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, who said dealing with Westminster in the last few days had been an "utterly shambolic experience".

"If ever there was an example of making an announcement first and then trying to work out what you meant by it - that is what we have seen since this announcement was first trailed in the press," he said.

"And day after day we have attempted to get a sensible answer from the UK government on how they intend to make these changes, which countries they intend to extend the arrangements to, and I just have to say it's been an impossible experience to follow."

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: "We haven't managed to get the devolved administrations to sign up to it yet".

But he added: "This won't come in until July 10th, so there's still an opportunity for them to do that. It's obviously a decision for them to make."

"It is really important that we have done this in a very careful and cautious way," Mr Shapps said.

"The most important thing is to maintain the gains that we have had."

Main image: Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (right) with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Edinburgh in July 2019. Picture by: Jane Barlow/PA Archive/PA Images

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Air Bridges Coronavirus England Exempt Countries Quarantine Scotland Self-isolation Travel Wales

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