Author Neil Gaiman defends 11,000-mile trip from New Zealand to Scotland despite lockdown restrictions

Ellen Manning
·3-min read
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 09:  Neil Gaiman speaks onstage at "Featured Session: Neil Gaiman" at the Austin Convention Center during the SXSW Conference And Festival on March 9, 2019 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Gary Miller/FilmMagic)
Neil Gaiman said he hadn't breached lockdown restrictions because he was going home. (Gary Miller/FilmMagic)

Author Neil Gaiman has defended his decision to travel more than 11,000 miles from New Zealand to his house in Skye, breaching Scotland’s lockdown rules.

The writer came under fire after revealing on his blog that he had made the journey, flying from Auckland Airport to Los Angeles then on to London before borrowing a friend’s car and driving north to Skye.

While coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been loosened in England, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has stressed that the message there remains to “stay at home”.

But Gaiman has responded to criticism on social media, saying he was allowed to “go home”.

In one response, he wrote: “I’m currently a UK taxpayer and on the Scottish voting rolls. I went home.”

The author’s critics included SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, also the MP for Skye, who tweeted: “Can I just remind anyone else thinking of coming to the Highlands this is against the regulations.

“To come from the other end of the planet is gobsmacking. We will welcome all to the Highlands when it is safe to do so. For now stay away.”

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Another online critic wrote: “It is still lockdown here in Scotland… would love to be able to visit my family and friends… but can’t and won’t. Sorry but this is not on.”

And someone else said: “Whilst I appreciate you’re going through relationships drama, I would have hoped that your common sense wouldn’t have eluded you. Scotland is in lockdown, no unnecessary travel.”

In his original blog post on Thursday, science fiction and fantasy author Gaiman said he travelled to Scotland so he could “isolate easily” after he and wife Amanda Palmer agreed they “needed to give each other some space”.

Opening the post: “Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own”, he went on to say that he was in New Zealand with his wife and son Ash until two weeks ago, when the country went from level four of lockdown – which it had been on for the previous five weeks – to level three.

“I flew, masked and gloved, from empty Auckland Airport to LAX, an empty international terminal with only one check-in counter open – the one for the BA flight from LAX to London,” he wrote.

“Both flights were surreal, especially the flight to London. Empty airports, mostly empty planes. It reminded me of flying a week after 9/11: everything’s changed.

“I landed in London about 10 in the morning, got a masked car service to a friend’s house. He had a spare car (bought many years ago as a birthday present for his daughter, but she had never learned to drive), with some groceries for me in a box in the back, waiting in the drive, with the key in the lock.

“I drove north, on empty motorways and then on empty roads, and got in about midnight, and I’ve been here ever since.”

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