Coronavirus in Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon’s route map announcement comes as ‘huge relief’ to Scottish tourism sector
Scotland’s tourism chiefs have hailed a new route map out of lockdown as “the most positive news we have received in a long time”, after Nicola Sturgeon revealed new indicative dates for the sector to reopen.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs on Tuesday afternoon that all tourist accommodation in Scotland would be able to reopen from April 26, allowing operators to cash in on a potential staycation boom this summer.
That date will also see cafés, restaurants and bars begin serving customers outdoors until 10pm, with groups allowed of up to six people from three households.
It is expected that serving alcohol will be permitted with no requirement for food to be served alongside it.
Ms Sturgeon also said the limit on wedding guests would be increased to 50 from April 26, and suggested that some elements of indoor hospitality might also reopen on that date.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), said the First Minister’s statement would be “massively welcomed” by businesses across Scotland.
“It is the most positive news we have received in a long time,” he said.
Mr Crothall said the Scottish Government’s announcement followed weeks of “almost daily” discussions with the STA, who had pressed for a “clearer route out of lockdown … not only to allow for the necessary timeframe to plan for reopening, but to protect the many thousands of jobs which are at risk”.
He added: “Today’s announcement will offer some very much needed light at the end of what has been the darkest tunnel for our industry.
“We of course acknowledge that these dates are provisional and are committed to working in a safe and professional manner to minimise risk and ensure that our tourism industry can play a key part in the rebuild and recovery of Scotland’s economy.”
Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), said the First Minister’s statement struck “the correct balance between the needs of business, the desire across the country for increased normality, and the caution that we all have to continue to observe as we work together to beat Covid-19”.
But there are serious concerns around businesses in the sector still reeling from the loss of international revenue, after Ms Sturgeon admitted to Holyrood that a review of restrictions on international travel would not be possible until mid-May.
Mr Crothall insisted the Scottish Government should provide “tailored financial support” for businesses that will not be able to trade viably until travel corridors reopen.
The First Minister’s statement also suggested that limits on household mixing could remain for several months, with ministers hopeful that all of mainland Scotland will be moved to level zero by the end of June.
Ms Campbell called on ministers to give businesses rendered unviable by limits on household mixing “much-needed financial support as a matter of extreme urgency.”
She said: “The ASSC commends the Scottish Government on the majority of the content announced today and we look forward to receiving the further promised details on the funding that will be available to help us restart our businesses and get back to creating memory-making holidays for our customers.”