Nicola Sturgeon has warned Scots holidaymakers that overseas travel is unlikely to be possible before June at the earliest.
The First Minister confirmed today that non-essential air travel will remain banned until at least May 17 – but added it’s “likely it won’t be possible for a period after that”.
The SNP leader pointed to the example of mainland Europe where the “picture is not as rosy” with covid infections continue to rise across several EU member states.
The vaccine roll-out has been considerably slower in popular tourist destinations such as France, Italy and Spain compared to the UK.
But Sturgeon said she was due to speak with the aviation sector this week to discuss how tourism can safely restart in the months ahead as lockdown gradually eases.
Speaking at her regular media briefing, the First Minister said: “I set out in parliament yesterday that we will be talking to the aviation sector this week about when and to what extent we might start to see some international travel being possible again.
“Like the UK Government, I don’t think that will be possible before May 17. My view is it is also likely not to be possible after that.
“And I take no pleasure in saying that. All of us want to have every aspect of life back to normal, for the benefits of individual freedoms as well as the importance of international travel to our economy.
“But we know two things right now. While we see lots of signs here, domestically in Scotland and across the UK, the picture is not as rosy in many other parts of Europe including some parts of Europe, where we are starting to some increase in the virus.
“We have to be cautious. This is a global pandemic, and we have to be cautious about the global pandemic as we consider our connectedness.
“But the other thing is, we know at this stage in a circulation of a virus, there are particular risks of mutation and new strains emerging. We are already seeing that.
“When a virus is circulating at the levels this one is, that’s going to happen. So we must be cautious.”
It comes as the First Minister yesterday announced tentative dates for easing lockdown restrictions across Scotland.
The Stay at Home rule is due to end on April 2, with Scots instead told to remain in their local council area unless travelling for essential purposes such as work.
Travel restrictions are due to end across mainland Scotland by April 26, with all non-essential shops and businesses – including hospitality – allowed to reopen in some form on the same day.