Scotland and Wales have 'jumped the gun' with quarantine on Greece and Portugal, Transport Sec says

SCOTLAND and Wales have "jumped the gun" by slapping quarantine on Greece and Portugal, the Transport Secretary has said today.

Grant Shapps slammed the devolved administrations for muddying the message on quarantine and said the overall rates of coronavirus in Portugal and Greece had actually fallen.



Mr Shapps told BBC Radio 4 this morning: "On Wednesday the Scots decided to, without using data from the joint biosecurity council, for this decision that people from Greece would be excluded (from quarantine exemption) and sort of jumped the gun on that.

"It doesn't make the overall message any clearer."

Cases in Portugal hit 23 per 100,000 people on Wednesday — exceeding the benchmark of 20 that has triggered other countries to be added to the quarantine list.

There was added confusion as Wales put Portugal and Greek islands Mykonos, Zante, Lesvos, Paros, Antiparos and Crete on its quarantine list from 4am today.

And the rules are different in Scotland, where arrivals must quarantine for a fortnight after Nicola Sturgeon put Portugal on the list from 4am tomorrow. Greece was also added yesterday.

But England refused to put the countries on the quarantine list yesterday, leaving travel rules in further disarray.

The shambolic travel rules come as Mr Shapps suggested quarantine could be cut from 14 days to "seven or 8 days" with swabs for coronavirus.

The Transport Secretary claimed the Welsh decision to quarantine arrivals from six Greek islands and Portugal from was made using dodgy data because the Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething "was at a different meeting".

He said Wales was relying on the number of cases per 100,000 without looking at the percentage of people tested who are positive for coronavirus.

He said: "(Mr Gething) The Welsh had not perhaps noticed or see, because we did not end up in the same meeting, a second figure, within that which is the number of cases which test positive – which is really important."

He said the positivity rate in Portugal had actually fallen from 1.8 per cent when the quarantine was lifted last month to 1.6 per cent – and the increase in actual case numbers was a result of huge amounts of tests being carried out.


 

Mr Shapps suggested Scotland and Wales were "punishing" countries for "doing the right thing and carrying out a lot of tests."

He added: "In Greece the actual number, using the cases per 100,000 had actually fallen."

The Transport Secretary said the decision would create a bizarre situation where different groups flying into the same airport would have to follow totally different quarantine rules depending on their final destination.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said the decision was necessary to "stop a rising tide of infections" after there were 30 fresh cases from people arriving from Zante – including 20 on a single flight to Cardiff.

He said: "Seeing a rising tide of infections coming in from that list of islands, having that direct experience in Wales and very clear advice about the higher risk to UK public health from the JBC, I did not feel that there was any course of action other than taking some form of action.

"It's not for me to explain why others haven't done that, but I'm very clear that we're following that advice and keeping Wales safe."

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