THE premise is pretty simple: stay at home.

If you were Janey Godley doing a Nicola Sturgeon take-off then it would be both simple and robust: stay the bleep at home.

Yet it seems the message to self-isolate for 14 days on return from foreign countries not on the government's exemption list seems to be failing to penetrate. Worse, it's penetrating but being ignored regardless.

In mid-July I wrote a news story for The Herald's sister title, the Glasgow Times, about a barber who had posted snaps on Instagram of his boys' trip to Ibiza. A mere day after returning home he was posting pictures of himself back in his shop. That's not to say he cut anyone's hair, but the customers who contacted me were concerned that the juxtaposition of images showed a disregard for the 14-day quarantine that was in place at the time.

Since then I've been swamped with emails from readers detailing friends, colleagues and neighbours who have had holidays abroad, landed home and carried on as normal. These are often backed up with screenshots of sunshine snaps posted on social media.

It might be thought distasteful for people to dob in their contacts but you can understand the frustration. We have all been through a fraught, traumatic time, some of us being compelled to endure far more trauma than others. We have been told repeatedly that we are all in this together, and yet you're gazing over your garden fence at someone who has been in the fortunate position of being able to take a jaunt overseas and, instead of accepting the pay-off of two weeks in self-isolation, they're risking lives by disregarding the rules.

Those who have the health, wealth and time to go overseas are rich in good fortune. If you book a trip to a country on the exemption list then you should know fine well that the risk is the air bridge between countries closes and you'll have to have 14 days in your house. If you're off on a caper to a country not on the exemption list then you should be preparing for a two-week quarantine on your return with the same level of attention to detail as you paid to your choice of holiday wardrobe.

To be clear: there's no judgement on people who are travelling at this time. The desire to escape it all is absolutely understandable. There are people who have been exhausted by this illness, by caring responsibilities, by frontline work, and the desire for a break on a beach somewhere afar makes perfect sense.

We all, though, have a responsibility to one another to follow government instructions and not curate the guidance to suit our own selfish ends. If you fail to follow the two-week quarantine then you're risking a situation where we lock back down and everyone is forced into self-isolating - though the rest of us don't have sea and sand memories to sustain us.

Personal responsibility is an issue here. More vitally, there has been an absolute hash made of the communication around the issue of foreign travel - by the government and by the media.

When the initial air bridges plan was leaked to the press at the end of June it was posited as a free rein to book a foreign holiday and the devil may care. Was it a Westminster demonstration of border power ahead of Brexit? Perhaps, but it was certainly badly handled. "Summer Is Saved" ran some of the headlines, with no distinction made between different tracks being taken in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The handling of the Spain U-turn was similarly poor. The Scottish Government announced on the Monday night that Spain would be added to the exemption list. The information released, at first glance, seemed to suggest the necessity to quarantine had been lifted immediately as the headline and first line were in the present tense. It was only on reading further down the post that it was mentioned Spain would be added "later that week" - but it didn't specify when.

There was, again, a failure of the media to interrogate this, with one newspaper reporting that the quarantine had been lifted when it had not. At one point the Scottish Government's own website stated at the top of its "Travel Exemption" page that anyone returning from Spain since July 10 did not have to self-isolate when that was not the case. The information was contradicted a couple of paragraphs later.

This sort of communication must be absolutely crisp and yet it was not.

From the people I've spoken to about flying into Scotland in recent weeks, it becomes clear that the experience at Border Control is haphazard. A few said they had been reminded of self-isolation requirements at passport control but the majority have been waved through.

Some have read this as a sign they do not need to self-isolate. Surely, they say, if it was vital they would be told to do so in person.

A Scottish Government spokesman told me: “The regulations state that anyone entering Scotland from abroad must complete a Passenger Locator Form with onward travel and contact details, including of where they will be staying, and self-isolate for 14 days.

"This form includes details of the requirement to quarantine, and posters reminding travellers of these measures have also been shared with Border Force to be used at airports.”

Travellers are clearly not reading the fine print or spotting the posters. Or, if they are, they're choosing to ignore them.

"It is the responsibility of individuals to follow quarantine restrictions," the spokesman added. "Failure to abide by them puts lives at risk. These measures, and the countries that are exempt are subject to ongoing review, and anyone visiting or returning to Scotland should check the latest information before they travel."

They certainly should. It would seem plenty aren't. The situation needs to be addressed before the obvious happens and we're in lockdown again. It needs to be addressed promptly to encourage people to comply. Whether that's by carrot or stick is the government's decision but, unlike those with the time to travel abroad, there isn't time for politicians to be idle.

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