THE first air passengers to be sent to one of Scotland’s quarantine hotels have been freed after it emerged they were wrongly detained.
We told yesterday how Chun Wong, from the United States, landed at Edinburgh Airport and was sent to begin ten days in confinement with daughter Kiernan, eight.
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Chun Wong and daughter Kiernan were wrongly told to go to a quarantine hotelCredit: Alamy Live News
Travellers at Edinburgh Airport getting ready to be transported to quarantineCredit: PA:Press Association
He told reporters he’d do “whatever it takes” to keep others safe.
From yesterday morning, travellers flying into Scotland on a direct international flight or indirect service must self-isolate for ten days in a hotel.
But there are exemptions to the rules. And it later emerged that because Mr Wong and his daughter had arrived via Dublin – and the US is not deemed a high risk country – the law passed by SNP ministers means he doesn’t actually have to go to a quarantine hotel.
The Wongs have been told they can leave their ‘managed isolation’ after just one dayCredit: Alamy Live News
The DoubleTree by Hilton is being used as a quarantine hotel for EdinburghCredit: PA:Press Association
The Scottish legal regulation on quarantine hotel says it “applies where a person arrives in Scotland from “outside the common travel area” of the UK, or “the Republic of Ireland and has within the preceding 10 days departed from or transited through an acute risk country or territory”.
Mr Wong told BBC Scotland that officials admitted on Monday night that there had been a mistake
Mr Wong said: “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.
‘Acute risk’ countries
There are currently 34 countries the Scottish Government deems as “acute risk”, due to the “identification of new variants of coronavirus”
- Cape Verde
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Falkland Islands
- French Guiana
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
“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 said they could have left the hotel on Monday night, but he decided to stay the night as they were tired.
The BBC reported that they are moving to Scotland to be with Kiernan’s mum and Mr Wong’s wife, Danielle, who has been here since November 2019.
She is a dual UK/US citizen involved in the care of people with addictions.
A quiet Edinburgh Airport awaits arrivalsCredit: Alamy Live News
Mr Wong said officials were making arrangements to transport him to the family home in Fife today.
The family have been separated for more than a year, Mr Wong said he was relieved that they would not have to spend 10 days in the quarantine hotel.
He said: “Danielle has been calling the government every day, and unfortunately every day there were different answers.
They said it was an error on their part
“There was a big level of grey. It seems like one department did not get the full picture from other departments.
“At the end of the day she got official word that since I’m coming from the USA I have to quarantine. It doesn’t matter that it’s a connecting flight. But now, as it appears, that is not the case.”
He said he was not angry with the mistake.
Mr Wong said: “I’m relieved because the news that we had to stay in a hotel for 10 additional days was heartbreaking. It was terrible. But at the end of the day if it needs to be done, it needs to be done.”
And he said Kiernan was “ecstatic, overjoyed and a little nervous” as it had been 16 months since she had seen her mum.
He said: “The last time she saw her she was seven and in April she’ll be nine. Crazy.”
A medical expert has said the confusion over the new rules indicates that they “don’t make sense” from a public health perspective.
Professor Linda Bauld said: “What appears to have happened in the case of the Wong family is that there’s exemptions for those who come from within the common travel area.
“So that means that if somebody is coming via Ireland at the moment, that is the common travel area and those people are not required to quarantine now.
“Like any new system, we are identifying issues. 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.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are looking into the circumstances that led to Mr Wong being wrongly advised at the airport that he needed to book a managed isolation package.
“This is a very new system, being implemented at pace, and some initial challenges are to be expected.
“We are following up with the travel management company to ensure a full refund is provided to Mr Wong.”
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