A north-east MP has joined growing calls for a “test and release” policy to be introduced in Scotland.
From December 15 in England, people arriving from countries on the Covid-19 quarantine list will be able to cut short their isolation if they return a negative test after five days.
Bosses at Aberdeen International Airport have called for a similar policy to be introduced north of the border, amid concerns over the impact of the pandemic on the travel and aviation industries.
Now Andrew Bowie, the MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, has written to Scottish Government health minister Jeane Freeman and transport chief Michael Matheson urging them to adopt the measures.
He said: “Whilst I was initially supportive of both the UK and Scottish Governments’ approaches to travel corridors and quarantine, there is no doubt that such rules have had a significant impact on our aviation sector.
“Going forward, it is vital that both short-haul and transatlantic flights are able to return to more normal levels and in order to do this, we must see increased testing and the mandatory quarantine period reduced.
“This I believe is particularly crucial for the future of our smaller, regional airports, like Aberdeen International Airport which serves my own constituency.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We recognise the impact that the pandemic has had on airports and airlines and we are exploring alternatives to quarantine that minimise the risk to public health.
“We are aware of the UK government’s plans to introduce test to release and we are working with the main commercial airports in Scotland and clinical advisors to understand the risks and benefits of such an approach here.
“We are currently assessing if test to release can be implemented in a way that minimises risk, which includes understanding the capacity of private sector labs to conduct testing to a minimum standard as well as determining the best time for a pilot of this nature.
“It is important that any travellers arriving in the UK understand, and respect, the different restrictions in place in the different nations.”
It comes as a further 76 people across the north-east have tested positive for coronavirus in the past day, with four new deaths registered in the region.
Across Scotland, the number of positive cases rose by 958, with 51 new reported deaths.
Of those deaths, one was from Aberdeenshire and three were from Aberdeen.
The total number of positive cases in the NHS Grampian region is now 4,940.
In Scotland, that figure now sits at 97,720.