SNP 'most fundamental weakness' exposed as Scotland reopens quarantine-free travel

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Pauline McNeill, the Labour MSP for Glasgow, told Debate Night on BBC Scotland that the issues with the SNP Government’s strategy and its impact on jobs need “serious, serious, addressing.” Ms McNeill also questioned the arrival of flights from India and other countries with high numbers of COVID-19 cases despite concerns about the impact their continued landing could have on the complete reopening of the country in June.

She said: “We know aviation is difficult. Lots of people asked from the very beginning why there were still flights coming in from places like India and where we know those countries had a high incidence.

“So people were asking these common-sense questions.

“I stood on the floor of the last Scottish parliament and pleaded with the transport secretary to meet with Glasgow airport and Edinburgh airport about a plan going forward.”

“Now it is one of the most fundamental weaknesses I think of the Scottish government’s strategy that they have failed to engage with an industry which needs to plan, even if it’s for next year or the year after.”

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Ms McNeill also questioned the SNP’s approach to testing international arrivals and their plan for protecting jobs in the recovery from coronavirus.

She said: “I’ve looked at this in-depth that there are some airports, Jersey for example, who tested every single passenger coming in.

“What did they get from that? Not only did they identify who had the virus, they discovered that 40 percent of those passengers had asymptomatic conditions and they were able to share that information with the government.

“So I think going forward, whenever we get to the point where the government is prepared to sanction travel, that we really need to get our act together here.

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“We need to support aviation too going forward, we need a recovery plan. It’s not just the fact that people want to fly, it’s the jobs.

“The jobs in Glasgow and the jobs in Edinburgh. We’ve already lost 2,000 jobs from Edinburgh airport, I think I’m right in saying that, and in Glasgow similarly, and Glasgow’s a city which I represent, that’s in serious trouble from recovery.

“Without an aviation plan going forward, for 2022 and 2023, Glasgow is not going to recover from this pandemic without serious, serious addressing.”

Unite warned in November that over 100 jobs at Glasgow and Aberdeen airports could be at risk due to the loss in airport travel over the course of the pandemic.

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Scotland allowed international travel to green list countries this week, joining England in allowing travellers to visit 12 countries and return without having to quarantine.

The list includes Portugal, Israel, and Australia.

Those returning from red or amber list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel or at home, respectively. 

However, the Scottish government’s advice continues to be that people should not travel if they do not have to.



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