Coronavirus: Police speak to Neil Gaiman after 11,000-mile trip from New Zealand to Skye

May 17, 2020

Science fiction author Neil Gaiman has been spoken to by police after travelling more than 11,000 miles from New Zealand to his house on Skye in breach of Scotland's lockdown rules.

The writer of American Gods and Good Omens was criticised for making the long-haul journey during the coronavirus pandemic, which one senior politician in Scotland branded "gobsmacking".

Writing on his blog, Gaiman said he had gone to Scotland so he could "isolate easily" after he and his wife, the musician Amanda Palmer, agreed they "needed to give each other some space".

He described how he flew "masked and gloved" from Auckland Airport to Los Angeles (LAX) and then on to London before borrowing a friend's car and driving north to Skye.

Only essential journeys are allowed under the COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stressing that the message remained "stay at home".

A statement from the Scottish police force confirmed the author had been given "suitable advice", with Inspector Linda Allan commenting: "Officers have visited Neil Gaiman and spoken to him about his actions.

"He has been given suitable advice about essential travel and reminded about the current guidelines in Scotland."

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who is also the MP for Skye, said: "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."

Gaiman was also rebuked on social media for making the journey.

One person 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."

Another person 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."

But responding, Gaiman said: "I'm currently a UK taxpayer and on the Scottish voting rolls. I went home."

The writer gave details of his globetrotting in a blogpost, in which he wrote: "Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own."

He said he was in New Zealand with his wife and son Ash until two weeks ago, when the country eased its restrictions.

Gaiman wrote: "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.

"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."

He said his family are looking forward to being together again once the world opens up and travel gets easier, and that "Amanda and I are still very much together, even with half a world between us".

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