Covid-19 News

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon advised of a further slowing down of the easing of restrictions.  She confirmed that there would be no changes to the current COVID-19 Protection Levels and also cautioned that it was unlikely any part of Scotland would move down a Level at next week’s review. This will consider possible changes from 28 June onwards. 

It had been previously hoped the country would move to Level 0, but Ms Sturgeon warned that it was more likely that current restrictions would be kept in place for a further three weeks to give more time for people to be fully vaccinated. She also said any changes that can be made safely within the Levels will be considered.

The Scottish Government intends to publish two pieces of work next week – both of which will look ahead to the restoration of a much greater degree of normality.  The first of these will be a paper setting out what life will look like beyond Level 0, when all or virtually all restrictions can be lifted at some point over the summer. The second will be the publication of the outcome of the governmental review on physical distancing.

The physical distancing review – and the fact that continuing 2-metre restrictions are preventing so many visitor attractions from operating viably – is a key issue for our sector, and one on which ASVA has been lobbying for change; we have been making a robust case for distancing restrictions at attractions to be reduced to 1-metre in line with the hospitality sector.

Commenting on today’s announcement by the First Minister, ASVA Chief Executive Gordon Morrison said: “Whilst it is encouraging to hear that we will be given a clear steer next week on what beyond Level 0 will look like, as well as the publication of the hugely important review of physical distancing measures, the news about a further delay in easing of restrictions presents considerable challenges for our highly seasonal industry.

“As it stands, attractions across the country are facing up to ongoing prohibitive restrictions – such as 2-metre physical distancing – well into the summer season, which means that many will not be able to operate at an economically viable level and will not be able to build vital reserves for the winter. Further financial support for the sector is therefore now essential to ensure that our world-class visitor attractions will be ready and able to lead the full recovery of Scottish tourism in 2022.”  

The full statement made by the First Minister today can be read here.

In her update to the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday 1 June), the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that, as a result of coronavirus cases stabilising in Glasgow, the city can move down to Protection Level 2 from 00.01 on Saturday 5 June. This means that travel to and from Glasgow can once again open up – a significant and positive development for attractions both in Glasgow and across the country.

Ms Sturgeon also advised that a ‘slight slowing down’ of the anticipated further easing of restrictions for much of Scotland’s Central Belt is however necessary.  Stressing that the decision represented ‘a pause, not a step backwards’, she said that it was important to ‘err on the side of caution’ in recognition of high coronavirus case numbers in some areas – mainly due to outbreaks of the highly-transmissable ‘Delta’ variant – and to reflect the fact that a large proportion of the population is not yet fully vaccinated.

A total of 13 mainland authorities will therefore remain under Level 2 restrictions while the situation with the virus is monitored closely. These are, by Health Board area: East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East, North, and South Ayrshire, North and South Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and Midlothian, Stirling and Clackmannanshire, and Dundee.

Many areas north and south will move down to Level 1 on 5 June – slightly earlier than provisionally planned – as a consequence of a range of factors, including lower numbers of coronavirus cases and higher vaccination rates. The 15 areas moving to Level 1 are: Highland; Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, and Moray. Angus; Perth and Kinross, Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire, Falkirk, Fife, West Lothian and East Lothian, The Scottish Borders, and Dumfries & Galloway.

The islands currently in Level 1, including Shetland and the Western Isles, will move to Level 0 on 5 June, and Ms Sturgeon highlighted the continuing importance, for those travelling from the mainland to the islands, of ensuring COVID tests are carried out in advance of trips.

ASVA CEO Gordon Morrison said: “It is welcome news of course that Glasgow visitor attractions and tourism businesses, after eight months under stricter rules, can finally move down to Level 2. Today’s announcement will however have brought mixed responses from attractions elsewhere in the country – with disappointment from those having to remain in Level 2 for the time-being and relief for others able to move to Levels 1 or 0 on Saturday.

“It remains the case though, that so many visitor attractions throughout Scotland are unable to operate at sustainable levels as a result of continuing restrictions, most particularly 2-metre physical distancing. We are therefore continuing our efforts to lobby robustly for change on this vital issue and very much hope that it will not be much longer until the situation changes to allow operators throughout the country to operate viably.”

Full details of the Protection Levels for each area, and their relevant restrictions, as announced today in the First Minister’s statement, are available here.

You can read the full statement here.