‘Take two Covid tests before you travel to the Scottish islands,’ urges Nicola Sturgeon

Simon Calder
·3-min read
Test case: a ferry on the island of Bute (Simon Calder)
Test case: a ferry on the island of Bute (Simon Calder)

Nicola Sturgeon has urged anyone hoping to travel to the Scottish islands to take two lateral-flow tests before sailing or flying there.

At a briefing to update the country on the next easing of lockdown rules, which takes place on Monday 26 April, the first minister said: “Many of them currently have very, very low rates of Covid.

“They will be welcoming visitors from other parts of Scotland, which I know many of them are looking forward to, where Covid will be circulating at a higher level and more widely.

“So if you are planning to travel to an island, we do encourage you to take two lateral-flow tests before you depart.”

The first test should be three days before the planned day of travel, the second on the day of departure, she said.

“That means if you test positive you have a chance to take a PCR test, which is more sensitive, to confirm the result before making a final decision on cancelling your visit.

“This is potentially an important way in which we can minimise the risk of bringing Covid into island communities while nevertheless allowing our islands the benefits of opening up again to visitors.”

People going from the islands to the mainland are not advised to test before travel, but the first minister said it would be “sensible” for islanders to undergo testing before returning home.

Lateral flow tests are available to anyone in Scotland. They can be collected from Covid test centres in the afternoon or early evening, the first minister said.

Travellers from England were warned not to cross the border to Scotland to take advantage of the limited opening of indoor hospitality from 26 April. It will happen three weeks before English pubs and restaurants can have customers inside.

Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, warned: “Don’t cross the border to do things you can’t do in your own country.

“People from Cumbria shouldn’t come to the indoor hospitality in Dumfries.”

Ms Sturgeon also warned that there was no certainty that international travel would reopen on 17 May.

“We want to restore normality to international travel as quickly as possible,” the First Minister said.

“We want people to be able to be travel more freely. But we must be sensible as we do that, in light of the risks that we face and in light of the risks we see across many parts of the world.

“if you’re in any doubt about anything I’m saying here, just turn on your television or go on the internet and look at India, look at France and many other parts of the world right now, Canada, where things are going in the wrong direction again.

“That’s what we’ve got to guard against.”

She said that the Scottish government was working with the UK government “to try to agree a common approach to international travel”.

The latest report from the Global Travel Taskforce sets out the hope that trips abroad will be possible from 17 May with a “traffic light” system for controls on return to the UK. But ministers in both London and Edinburgh have warned that the date is not guaranteed.

Read More

Sturgeon criticises Covid traffic light system for international travel

Australia-NZ ‘travel bubble’ – how does it work?

US to advise against travel to more than three-quarters of world