Scottish Government probe after US traveller wrongfully quarantined

Conor Riordan, PA Scotland
·3-min read

The Scottish Government is investigating after US travellers were mistakenly made to quarantine in a hotel despite a loophole in the rules.

Chun Wong and his daughter Kiernan, eight, arrived at Edinburgh airport on Monday via a connecting flight in Dublin and were set to spend 10 days self-isolating in a nearby hotel.

However, Mr Wong was contacted by officials later to tell him he did not need to abide by the rules.

Passengers were escorted leaving Edinburgh airport to self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel room (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are looking into the circumstances that led to Mr Wong being wrongly advised he needed to book a managed isolation package and would like to thank the family for their patience.

“This is a very new system, being implemented at pace, and some initial challenges are to be expected.

“However, once the error was identified, the family were contacted and advised they could make alternative arrangements for their self-isolation period.

“We are following up with the travel management company to ensure a full refund is provided to Mr Wong.”

People flying directly into a Scottish airport on international flights have to self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel room, under new regulations taking effect on Monday.

Unless exempt, a passenger will have to pay £1,750 to quarantine in a room at one of six designated hotels in a bid to avoid importation of the virus.

In England, the UK Government will only require hotel quarantine for visitors from a “red list” of 33 countries designated as high risk, meaning travellers arriving from elsewhere could avoid it by entering Scotland via England.

It also applies to those flying from the common travel area, which includes Ireland.

Visitors would still have to self-isolate for the 10-day period, but would not have to do so at one of the designated hotels due to a lack of agreement between Scottish and Westminster governments.

Coronavirus – Mon Feb 15, 2021
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Edinburgh Airport which is being used to quarantine passengers (Andrew Milligan/PA)

It is understood the pair were the first to be taken to a hotel for quarantine in Scotland.

Mr Wong told the BBC: “I received a call from reception saying a gentleman from the airport would like to talk to me.

“He said that since I landed in Dublin first and then got a connecting flight to here, I was not required to quarantine in a hotel.

“I still have to quarantine and do the self-testing kit on the second and eighth day, but they said it was an error on their part.”

Mr Wong added he could have left the hotel on Monday night, but decided to stay the night as he was tired.

He departed the hotel with his daughter on Tuesday afternoon.

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told the broadcaster: “Clearly everybody listening will realise that it doesn’t make sense.

“While I have huge sympathy for this family, just to emphasise, the fact that they’ve stopped for a few hours in Dublin means that the rules don’t apply, that doesn’t make sense to me from a public health perspective.”

The Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman Graham Simpson MSP said the family “should never have been put in a hotel in the first place”, adding that the quarantine scheme had been a “shambles”.

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said the policy had “fallen flat at the first hurdle”.

He added: “Thrown together at the last minute, these travel plans were always going to struggle to be effective in any meaningful way, with no effective checks and balances in place yet.”