Passengers arriving in Scotland via English airports have spiked since the introduction of mandatory hotel quarantines, Scottish Labour has claimed.

The spike is indicative of people dodging the Scottish Government's quarantine system for international arrivals announced in early February.

Data received by Scottish Labour, showed 80% of passengers (1,999 people) came to Scotland using English airports at the end of February, compared to 27% (3,848 people) at the start of the year.

All international passengers arriving at Scottish airports must enter the hotel quarantine system whereas the UK Government only requires this of those coming from countries on the “red list”.

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However, the overall number of arrivals in Scotland has fallen steeply since the start of the year. 

The total number went from 14,432 for the week beginning January 4 to 2,930 on the week beginning February 22.

Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “This is further evidence of what Scottish Labour has said from the start; that the SNP’s hotel quarantine policy was riddled with loopholes – and made all the worse by the fact that it came almost a year too late.

“Time and again, Scottish Labour called for a robust regime of airport testing and highlighted flaws in the previous quarantine regime that meant few people who were supposed to be quarantining at home were ever properly checked.

“The SNP only listened and brought in testing and managed quarantine after passenger numbers were at record low levels – too little, too late.”

He continued: “Not only are 80% of passengers arriving in Scotland avoiding managed quarantine by travelling via England, but a week into the new policy passenger numbers are actually beginning to rise again.

“It simply highlights the breakdown in the relations between the Scottish and UK governments.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has previously said the UK Government’s red list system is “inadequate”, saying the issue is the main area of contention between the Scottish and UK governments on coronavirus.

Responding to Labour’s claims, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “To manage the risk of importing new variants, and to give vaccine deployment the best chance of bringing us closer to normality, limits on international travel are necessary.

“A four-nations approach would be preferable and the partial approach adopted by the UK Government risks allowing new variants to enter the country.

“We’ve always been clear that we cannot unilaterally implement immediate managed quarantine for people who arrive in other parts of the UK before travelling on to Scotland.

“We have asked the UK Government to work with us to address this, but currently such travellers are required to isolate at home.”