SCOTLAND’S quarantine hotels have been labelled “shambolic” after it emerged only one in seven international travellers have checked in so far.
Politicians and airport chiefs said people arriving in the country appear to be dodging the SNP’s managed isolation facilities after the strict measures were brought into place on February 15.
All international travellers arriving directly to Scotland from another country should be undergoing a £1,750 10-night stay in supervised quarantine hotels.
But those flying via the Irish capital or the rest of the UK will not be required to check in to a hotel unless they are coming from one of 33 countries on Britain’s “red list”, where Covid levels remain high.
The loophole emerged last week after Chun Wong and daughter Kiernan, eight, were allowed to leave their hotel after ONE night having flown in to Edinburgh from the US with a stopover in Dublin.
It means people could technically get around Scotland’s blanket curbs by stopping off at an English airport before travelling north to complete their isolation period at home — avoiding the £1,750-a-head charge.
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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman have not ruled out introducing border road checks to prevent the grey area being exploited.
But the number of Scots airport arrivals already plummeted to 2,548 last week, down down from 4,625 in the first week of February.
And The Times reports just 346 of the 2,548 arrivals went into quarantine hotels in their first week, with 1,466 told to isolate at home.
Those flying for essential work, armed forces personnel and diplomats are exempt from quarantine.
A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said the figures demonstrated that Scotland’s aviation system was being decimated for a quarantine system that was not being enforced.
He said: “We are not surprised at the low number of people quarantining in hotels.
“The loophole that our governments have created still exists and it is highly likely a number of people are dodging managed isolation altogether by travelling to Scotland via other areas of the UK.
“This policy claims to be stringent yet keeps the back door to Scotland wide open and decimates Scottish aviation at the same time.”
Tory shadow transport secretary Graham Simpson said the SNP’s quarantine regime was “shambolic”.
He said: ”Their incompetence includes booking hundreds of unnecessary hotel rooms at taxpayers’ expense, failing to communicate properly with airports and even wrongly quarantining a dad and his daughter.
“These new figures raise obvious questions about why so few passengers ended up in quarantine hotels. The minister needs to explain exactly what is going on here.”
Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth added: “With just 345 people quarantining, the block-booking of 1,300 hotels at taxpayers’ expense is not just poor planning but an incredible waste of money.
“This much-lauded ‘comprehensive approach’ to virus suppression was needed last year when the pandemic struck. Now, almost 11 months later, it is no more than an empty gesture and, at this stage in the game, it is too little, too late.
“We need to see better planning around actual passenger numbers, and a competent government that can deliver on its promises.”
We told last week how bungling Nats ministers were slammed after block-booking quarantine hotel rooms at an airport with no scheduled international flights.
It’s understood 284 places have been reserved until the end of March at the Holiday Inn Express and Normandy bases at a cost of around £500,000.
But no foreign flights have arrived at neighbouring Glasgow Airport since last month and no others are currently planned.
A Scottish government spokesman said: “Far more people arrive via England or elsewhere in the UK than arrive directly into Scotland — which is exactly why we continue to press the UK government to help us stem transmission of the virus by requiring these people to go into managed isolation at the place where they arrive.”
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