Scotland Travel Ban: Trips to airports now illegal but foreign travel not banned

Scotland’s new travel ban means it is illegal to travel to the airport or to a port to travel abroad, but taking the flight itself is still legal.

Michael Russell, the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, was speaking to the Covid-19 committee in the Scottish Parliament when the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie asked whether the new travel ban covered non-essential international travel.

The new ban, which will come into force on Friday, will make it illegal for people in Level Three or Level Four areas to travel outside of their council area.

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Guidance has been in place for several weeks along these lines, but the new rules will mean people will be breaking the law if they travel across the boundaries of their council for non-essential purposes.

It is illegal to travel to Edinburgh Airport to take a foreign holiday, but not to take the flight itself
It is illegal to travel to Edinburgh Airport to take a foreign holiday, but not to take the flight itself

Mr Rennie asked Mr Russell whether international travel itself would be illegal under the new rules, to which the minister said no, but any travel to the airport in order to take a non-essential flight would be illegal.

Mr Russell said: “International travel won’t be illegal because that is for the UK to do that, but travelling to the airport or to a port for that purpose would be against the regulations.”

Asked whether people could travel from somewhere within Edinburgh or Glasgow to the cities’ respective airports, Mr Russell said that would be against the regulations which will become law on Friday.

It means people living in Edinburgh will be allowed to travel to the airport for a Covid-19 test, but face fines if going on a winter holiday.

However, those travelling from levels zero to two and through levels three and four to fly away on holiday will not be breaching the rules, the Scottish Government clarified.

The rules in place from Friday will see the police given the power to enforce the travel ban.

The law will cover people living outside level three or four areas and travelling in, except for essential purposes, and for anyone travelling outside of Scotland to other parts of the UK for non-essential travel.

Fines for breaching the regulations start at £30, doubling to £60 if they are not paid within 28 days. Those who break the rules multiple times can face fines of up to £960.

Edinburgh Airport added that the move “piles further pressure” on the aviation sector and called, again, for a testing regime at airports.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “This is clearly a fluid situation and we have asked the government to clarify what it means for airports and aviation exactly. We encourage passengers to look at government advice and guidance and make an informed decision based on that.

“This piles further pressure on aviation and travel industries which have already been decimated by the quarantine policy. The testing regime we have consistently called for would simplify this by mitigating risk to public health and allowing people to travel.

"Surely now is the time for the government to act in this area, as it has done with students."

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