NICOLA Sturgeon has said she does not want Scotland to have to accept “the lowest common denominator” as she defended pursuing a stricter quarantine policy than Boris Johnson’s Government for England.

The First Minister made the intervention as she was pressed on the tougher Scottish protocols for people arriving into the country from overseas.

People flying directly into Scotland on international flights have to self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel, under new regulations which took effect yesterday.

Unless exempt, a passenger has to pay £1750 to quarantine in a room at one of six designated hotels in a bid to avoid importation of the virus.

However, Johnson’s Government has adopted a laxer scheme requiring only travellers from 33 red list countries to quarantine.

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The Scottish Government has been pressing the UK Government to adopt its stricter system amid concerns that some travellers heading to Scotland could choose to arrive at an airport in England and then drive or take the train to Scotland to avoid the stricter Scottish quarantine rules requiring them to isolate for 10 days in a hotel, though they still have to isolate at home under the common UK travel rules.

Asked whether the Scottish Government should adopt the UK system – to avoid the loophole – Sturgeon told the daily coronavirus briefing that she did not believe Scots should be forced to accept lower controls.

She said: “People can take the view that we should go with the lowest common denominator and do what the UK Government is doing.

“But that would be the lowest common denominator and it’s not providing maximum protection and a few months from now if we are going back into lockdown because as happened last summer we reseeded into the country and worse the new variants are much more transmissable or even more severe or are beating our vaccines then ... I don’t want to be in the position of having not done as much as I had the power to do.”

She added: “It’s frustrating that we don’t have a four nations common position but I can’t force that on other governments, I can only do what I think is right and try and persuade other governments to do what I would like them to do.”

During the briefing the First Minister said Scotland will have to “look at alternatives” if an agreement cannot be reached on international quarantine rules with the rest of the UK.

The first international flight subject to the new rules arrived in Scotland from Istanbul, Turkey, yesterday morning. It had been due to carry around 65 passengers but fewer than five made it on board, due to issues at departures.

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UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday he is happy to discuss the matter with the Scottish Government.

Six hotels have been block-booked in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with up to 1300 rooms available. Scottish Government guidance stipulates that those subject to quarantine require a negative Covid-19 test no more than three days before travelling and to have booked a room at a quarantine hotel in advance.

They will also have to submit a passenger locator form to the Home Office, declaring which countries they have been to in the 10 days before their arrival in the UK. Airlines have been asked to check for these and they will also be checked on arrival by Border Force officers, who can issue fines of £480 for non-compliance.

Security officers then escort passengers to baggage reclaim and to pre-arranged transport to their quarantine hotel. On arrival at the hotel, they will be given two home testing kits to be used on days two and eight of isolation.

If they test positive at any point they will be required to stay in the hotel for 10 days after the test, at an additional charge starting from £152 daily for the first adult.