SCOTS tourists have been warned that any foreign trips this year will carry an “element of risk” that could see them forced to quarantine when they return.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf was speaking after the Scottish and UK governments removed Spain from the list of countries exempt from quarantine, late on Saturday night.

It means that anyone arriving here from Spain now needs to self-isolate for 14 days.

Yousaf said the change was made after “deeply alarming” data emerged showing cases almost doubling in Spain.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, he said: “The reason is very much based on the public health data we received on Saturday from the UK Government that showed a deeply alarming trend in Spain.

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“In the space of a week, from the July 17-24, we saw cases in Spain almost double from 5700 to 11,000.”

Asked if it was a mistake to for ministers in Edinburgh take Spain off the quarantine list a few days ago, he said: “When we made the decision to remove Spain, the decision was based on the data.

“So the prevalence, which is the percentage of the population per 100,000 that is infectious, had dramatically reduced, in fact it was lower than what Scotland’s was.”

He added: “Clearly on reflection, perhaps there are some lessons for us to learn, I’m never against us doing that. I think that’s important for us to do, particularly because without a global vaccine being available there are going to be times when countries are going to be taken off the exempt list, put back on the list, depending on the data that we receive.”

He said travel during a global pandemic would always carry “some element of risk” as the situation could change rapidly.

Yousaf said: “Of course I understand why people will be disappointed, I understand why people would be frankly quite angry.

“But I hope people understand that the only reason we choose to make decisions is based on the public health data we receive and is in the best interests of keeping people safe here in Scotland.”

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Downing Street said echoed Yousaf’s comments, saying that “no travel is risk-free”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Decisions on border measures and travel advice can be changed rapidly if necessary to help stop the spread of the disease.

“Unfortunately no travel is risk-free during this pandemic and disruption is possible and so anyone travelling abroad should be aware that our travel advice and exemption list is under constant review as we monitor the international situation.”

There was broad support for the last-minute measure, according to a YouGov poll. The firm found that 84% of people in the UK support quarantine, while 51% said that it was the right call to implement the rule immediately.

Only 8% say that the decision was wrong, and that quarantine should not have been introduced at all.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has been urged to set up a fund to help holidaymakers returning from Spain who are required to quarantine.

LibDem leader Willie Rennie said many could face a “significant loss of income” as a result of having to self-isolate for two weeks, with many not eligible for statutory sick pay.

He said: “We need some practical solutions to support those travellers who jumped at the opportunity to go to Spain only to find themselves facing a fortnight off work in isolation,” he said.

“For many, this could mean a significant loss of income.

“The people who need help are those who left for holiday to Spain last week because they were told by the Scottish Government there would be no requirement to quarantine on their return.”