Greece has been added to Scotland’s ‘red list’ which means those wishing to travel to the country have to quarantine on return.
The popular holiday destination full of beautiful warm islands and history had been hoping for tourists this summer. They did everything they could to prepare as the lock down eased across Europe.
However, Ministers said they have taken the move due to a “significant rise” in cases of Covid-19 being brought into Scotland from people who have been to Greece.
It comes after numerous people have been quarantined after carrying the virus with them from the island of Zante.
Over a dozen people were quarantines from a flight to Cardiff from the island last week. Also one man brought the virus with him to Glasgow at the end of August.
Two people also had the virus from Zante to Plymouth around the same time.
This has led to the whole island being closed to flights.
There is currently 20 cases per 100,000 people across all of Greece. This has led the British government to take action.
The deputy first minister, John Swinney, told Good Morning Scotland that there had been “an increased number of cases coming in from Greece as a consequence of international travel”.
He said: “We judge, based on the evidence available to us, there is a necessity to apply that quarantine restriction and that’s to essentially protect us here in Scotland from a spread of the virus as a consequence of importation from other countries.”
Asked why the restriction covered the whole of Greece when media reports suggested there was a particular problem with some islands, Mr Swinney said: “The whole process of travel can generate some of the cases that are taking their course”.
So he said it was “proportionate” and designed to “give us as much protection as possible here domestically. The aim being to avoid a rise in cases and that’s what we’re trying to avoid at all possible costs”.
He added that it was important to take proportionate and targeted action where it was possible to do so.
Scotland’s Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf said: “We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the situation in many countries can change suddenly. Therefore, people should think very hard before committing to non-essential travel abroad.
“With Scotland’s relatively low infection rate, importation of new cases from Greece is a significant risk to public health. I would also encourage people who have returned to Scotland from Greece in the last few days to be particularly careful. In their social contacts and to ensure they stick to the facts.
“We continue to closely monitor the situation in all parts of the world and base the decisions we make on the scientific evidence available. Regular discussions continue with the other three governments in the UK.”
Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Gregor Smith said: “There is a compelling public health risk around the importation of the virus. Especially given the number of imported cases linked to the Greek islands.
“The flow of travel between Scotland and Greece, and the behavior we have seen from some of those travellers, means that on public health grounds there is a strong case. Supported by public health directors to remove Greece from the exemption list.”
However, Greece’s tourist minister Harry Theoharis said the restrictions on travel were ‘harsh.’
He said every country had a right to protect its citizens. However, Greece was “well below” the 20 cases per 100,000 threshold that the UK nations use as a guide. This used for imposing quarantine restrictions on returning travelers.
Mr Theoharis added: “We have put in place a comprehensive set of protocols and measures. We take targeted measures where we see concentration.”
He added that Greece conducted the fifth most tests in Europe.
“We feel that we have taken every possible precaution”, he added.
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