Quarantine hotels for oil and gas workers are to remain in place, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying “public safety is paramount”.
Scottish Conservative north-east MSP Liam Kerr asked whether key energy workers returning from overseas would be allowed to isolate at home, as other international travel rules ease up.
Quarantine hotel restrictions, which have been in place for four months, come at a cost of £1,750 to workers over the 10-day isolation period, with Mr Kerr highlighting the “mental health” impact of this eroding off-rota time with families.
At FMQs on Thursday, he asked whether oil workers would be granted the permission they “desperately crave” to isolate at home rather than in the quarantine hotels.
Ms Sturgeon indicated that the restrictions would continue, as concern around international variants remain.
She said: “We need to make sure that first and foremost we are protecting people as much as people against the spread of this virus. And that is particularly important when it comes to international travel because that is the key risk right now of importing new variants.
“These are all difficult issues for anybody who is having to quarantine in a hotel. It is really difficult, but public safety and public health is paramount here and I would hope that the Tories would accept that.”
A small group countries have been added to the Scottish Government “green list”, including Portugal and Australia, however dozens more remain restricted on the amber or red lists, requiring an isolation period upon return.
Meanwhile, domestic easing of restrictions in the central belt have been slowed down due to a rise in cases of the “Delta variant” of the virus from overseas.
Mr Kerr, shadow secretary for energy, said he was “extremely disappointed” by Ms Sturgeon’s response, arguing that oil workers are being “pushed to the bottom of the pile” during Covid.
He added: “This restriction is having a devastating impact on livelihoods, yet Nicola Sturgeon seems to be turning a blind eye to the mental health impact of this.
“Families are pleading for this to change and its high time the Scottish Government listened to both them and the industry as a whole on this issue.”