Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford said government has made a series of last-minute changes to its list of countries deemed safe after weeks of delays and warnings from the government travel agencies facing increasing financial difficulties. .
The list released on Friday was published without a widely followed “traffic light” system, despite promises made by Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps a few hours earlier during a radio interview.
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There was even more confusion when Greece was added to the list of countries exempt from quarantine, although Mr. Shapps said earlier that this would not be the case.
Shapps said Greece would not be listed because it banned flights from the UK until July 15 due to the high rate of infections in Britain – but the government appears to have backed down and told him unilaterally given the green light despite restrictions on the Greek side.
The government’s chief scientific adviser has also suggested that the 14-day quarantine imposed on travelers arriving in England is not supported by scientific evidence. Speaking at Friday’s press conference at Downing Street, Sir Patrick Vallance was asked if there was ever a scientific justification for the general quarantine imposed – with a few exceptions – on June 8.
Sir Patrick replied: “Our advice has been clear: quarantine makes more sense and can be used effectively when people come from countries where infection rates are higher than the ones we have here.
“This is where quarantine is a measure that would make a difference.”
Ms. Sturgeon criticized the “quicksand” of British government policy: “When so much is at stake as it is now, we cannot get caught up in the wake, to be completely honest, another chaotic government decision-making.
“Just to illustrate the point [on] the quicksand of the British government’s position – the list of countries to which they yesterday asked the Scottish government to join, and suggesting that we were an obstacle to getting a deal, is not the same as the list that ‘they shared with us today. ”
Drakeford said it was “impossible” to get a “sensible response” from the ministers about their approach.
“Day after day we have tried to get a sensible response from the British government on how it intends to make these changes, on which countries it intends to extend the provisions, and I must simply say that it was an impossible experience to follow, ” he said.
A 14-day self-isolation policy for arrivals to the UK – with the exception of a handful of exemptions – was introduced on June 8, but is now relaxed for the countries on the list.
There are now 73 countries with exemptions, including popular short-haul destinations like Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, as well as long-haul destinations like Australia, Barbados, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.
China, Portugal, Thailand, the Maldives and the United States are among the notable destinations due to their absence.
Labor has attacked the way the government has treated the situation as a “mess”. Jim McMahon, the shadow secretary of transportation, said, “Workers – like families and businesses across the country – want government quarantine measures cut, but it’s a mess.
“First, we were in the quarantine that they were slow to implement, then they said that they would make air bridges. We are now seeing a plan to allow residents of 60 or more countries to enter England without any reciprocal agreement.
“The fact that they have not been able to negotiate air bridges is an indictment against their inability to face the crisis at home. They were too slow to take the lock, too slow to order PPE and too slow to protect our country. ”
The Liberal Democrats called on ministers to publish the scientific basis for the so-called “travel corridors”.
Lib Dem health, welfare and social care spokeswoman Munira Wilson accused the ministers of being “everywhere” in quarantine.
“People deserve better,” she said. “To avoid further confusion, ministers must publish the scientific basis for their decisions.”