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Date pencilled in for tourism's return. but big questions remain

Fergus Ewing

TOURISM businesses have been told to get set to reopen from July 15 — provided Scotland moves to the Phase Three of the Government's roadmap out of Covid-19 lockdown. However, big questions remain. Many businesses fear they may not be viable if the existing two-metre social-distancing rule is not relaxed. Pubs are understood to be particularly vulnerable, as are food outlets where the rules could see the number of customer who can be served tumble, risking profitability. There are concerns too in rural areas which have seen relatively few Covid-19 cases that a relaxation could bring in new cases. This is an issue here where official NHS figures show Dumfries and Galloway has had 261 confirmed cases, the lowest of any mainland health board. A marketing plan is being prepared by the Scottish Government to reassure rural communities about health and safety measures for incoming tourists, but no details have yet been released about the plan or when it will emerge. Relaxation of travel restrictions south of the border was blamed for an influx of visitors and many readers contacted the Free Press with concerns about the potential spread of Covid-19, as well increased pressure of local resources. Holyrood tourism secretary Fergus Ewing spoke about a sector which has been devastated by the Coronavirus crisis in the Edinburgh parliament yesterday. Although he spoke of a restart on July 15, Mr Ewing warned that “absolutely nothing can be guaranteed” and said that the date may be changed should “the evidence require it to be moved.” “I've been engaging with businesses since the beginning of the outbreak and I have heard their calls for more clarity, which today I can provide. “Businesses should start to prepare for a provisional return to trading — with appropriate safety guidelines — on the July 15 2020. “This date cannot be definitive and is conditional on public health advice and progression to phase three of the route map. “Businesses must now use this time to satisfy the necessary regulations and adapt to the new way of living.” MSPs were also told that travel restrictions are also expected to be eased from July 15 to coincide with a careful reopening of the tourism sector. Many Highlands and islands business have been affected by a reduction of capacity on CalMac ferries. Here, StenaLine have said that as passengers return to their ferries out of Cairnryan, they will require facemarks onboard. The Scottish Government has also promised “further guidance” will also be published to assist businesses prepare for reopening. Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, described the announcement was “a hugely positive milestone in our road to recovery”. He told the BBC: “The reassurance that there is a summer season for tourism in Scotland will offer a huge comfort and relief to many thousands of businesses.”

<< back Published: 11 Jun 2020, 09:23

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