JACKSON Carlaw should "reflect on" his demand for Spanish regional differences for Covid infections to be taken into account in decisions over air bridges while opposing any such differences in the UK, the First Minister has suggested.

In Holyrood today the Scottish Tory leader urged Nicola Sturgeon to allow exemptions from quarantine rules between Scotland and holiday isles such as Lanzarote and Ibiza, arguing the prevalence of the virus was lower there than on the Spanish mainland. Spain was not on a list of “air bridge” countries published yesterday that exempts returning holiday makers from quarantine rules.

"The decision extends to all Spanish destinations including the Canary islands which includes Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife and then on to La Gomera and Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza. All of which have a very low incidence of Covid in some instances lower than Scotland. Will she examine whether these popular destinations could be added to her list of quarantine countries now?" Carlaw asked.

The First Minister responded: "I was … interested in what appeared to be a proposition by Jackson Carlaw that where there is a different prevalence rates within a different country then different arrangements around travel should apply.

"And perhaps that is something that Jackson Carlaw may want to reflect on in different circumstances in future. Recognising right now that Scotland has a prevalence of this virus which is several times, from the most recent data five times lower than the rest of the UK.

"I will be very straight as I was yesterday about the decision about Spain. I understand how difficult this is for our aviation sector, our tourism sector and indeed for those who might want to go overseas this summer although my advice to people in Scotland is if you want to support the Scottish tourism sector then have a holiday in Scotland if you are able to."

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She added that currently the Scottish Government did not have data on the virus levels across different areas of Spain and it was working on the issue which may allow "a more targeted approach in the very near future".

She said: "Yesterday I had data in front of me which showed that the prevalence of the virus in Spain right now is more than 10 times what it is in Scotland."

Carlaw has previously been opposed to differences in Covid infections being taken into account in the UK when travel rules are being considered.

Last month he condemned any potential move by the Scottish Government for quarantine restrictions to be imposed on visitors to Scotland from other parts of the UK where the virus rates are higher. The First Minister has no plan to introduce the measure currently but has not ruled it out.

Carlaw said at the time: "The First Minister needs to rule out any attempt to close off Scotland from the rest of the UK. While it may be that localised lockdowns will be needed to deal with individual flare-ups over the months ahead, they should be handled as such.

"The practical implications of quarantining everyone who crosses the border into Scotland are staggering."

He added: "Any suggestion that English people are not wanted in Scotland would be economically and morally dangerous.”