The UK government’s handling of the easing of quarantine restrictions for international arrivals has been “shambolic”, according to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.
Following weeks of speculation, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced on 3 July that people returning to or visiting England from around 60 countries and overseas territories deemed to have low rates of coronavirus, such as Spain and France, will not need to self-isolate.
His department was unable to convince the devolved administrations to sign off on the plan before it was made public.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged there are “obvious practical reasons” for alignment on the issue but criticised the “shifting sands” of the UK policy.
She 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.”
Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford described dealing with the UK government over the last few days as “an utterly shambolic experience”.
He went on: “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.
“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.”
Shapps suggested in the Commons on 2 July that the announcement was delayed due to the Scottish government.
The full list of destinations from where people can arrive in England without entering quarantine will be published on 3 July.
Shapps has said it includes Spain, France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the US is excluded as “they have got very high numbers of infections”, while Greece does not feature as it has banned flights from the UK until 15 July.
Approved destinations pose “a reduced risk to the public health of UK citizens” but the list will be kept “under constant review”, the Department for Transport said.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will exempt the approved countries from its advisory against all non-essential travel from 4 July, while the quarantine policy will be amended from 10 July.
That means people who depart on 4 July and spend at least six days in one of the listed locations will not need to self-isolate on their return.
Passengers will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in England.
The 14-day self-isolation policy for UK arrivals – bar a handful of exemptions – was introduced on 8 June.
It was met with fierce criticism over the impact on the UK’s travel, tourism and hospitality industries.
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