Nicola Sturgeon has told Scots hoping to enjoy a summer break abroad that she will not simply rubber-stamp UK Government plans to allow quarantine-free travel.
It comes after airport bosses accused her of “dithering” on whether air bridges could be introduced – allowing people to travel overseas to some countries and then return home without needing to self-isolate for 14 days.
The tourism sector has already warned delays could lead to more job losses, with operator Barrhead Travel having confirmed on Monday it will be making redundancies as a “direct result of the impact of Covid-19”.
The UK Government has already announced a list of countries English holidaymakers can visit without self-isolating on their return, including popular short-haul destinations such as Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, as well as places farther afield like Australia, Barbados, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.
Ms Sturgeon said she hopes such arrangements will be possible for Scots looking to travel to low-risk countries, although she added “there is a still a process of analysis and assessment we have to complete”.
As she warned coronavirus could “spiral out of control again in the blink of an eye”, the First Minister said: “I’m not in any aspect of this prepared to simply be a rubber stamp on decisions taken by another Government.
“I’m not criticising those decisions but I have got to assess them and apply judgment to them here.”
She stressed the decision-making process is a “careful and considered one to try to make sure we continue to contain a virus that has since March taken the lives of more than 4,000 people in Scotland”.
Ms Sturgeon, speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, said: “I understand the impatience here but we must take these decisions properly.
“If people want a First Minister that is just going to be a rubber stamp for decisions taken elsewhere at any point – but particularly where she has a concern that those decisions may not be absolutely the right ones given the circumstances we face in Scotland – then that is not me.
“We need to do that careful analysis, we need to weigh up the risks and benefits ourselves, and we need to come to a considered view overall.”
Her comments came after interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said the global situation is “very volatile”.
He said: “As community transmission becomes much less across Scotland, one of the considerations we have got to make is how we prevent fresh importations of Covid-19 from other country.
“The situation internationally right now is very volatile, we’re seeing a lot of countries – not just across Europe but across the globe – where there are very changing pictures domestically.
“We want to make sure as we take these very important decisions we have got the latest information and data available to us so we can make a very safe decision.”