First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new timetable for the lifting of Coronavirus restrictions. The instruction to ‘Stay at Home’ will end on 2nd April, subject to continued positive data, and will be replaced by an instruction to ‘Stay Local’.
More significant for those interested in outdoor recreation and getting away from the cities, it is hoped that restrictions on travel within all areas of mainland Scotland will end on 26th April. It is expected that this lifting of travel restrictions will also include those from the rest of the UK coming to Scotland. Accommodation businesses are expected to be allowed to open from that same date, but will be in short supply. Also from 26th April, it is intended that six people will be allowed to meet outdoors from three different households; higher numbers apply already to those in organised groups taking covid precautions.
Consultations are to take place with island communities not included in the current lockdown, on whether they also will allow visitors from that date.
For many people, this will be the first time they have been allowed to travel to the rural parts of Scotland they love for many months. Demand is likely to be extremely high, and to get through this period, the greatest of respect needs to be shown both by visitors travelling to remoter communities by not leaving litter or causing damage, and by the communities themselves towards visitors who have endured much harsher lockdown restrictions.
There is likely to be a inadequate supply of places to stay in the face of massive demand.
- Many people whose holiday bookings were cancelled in 2020 opted to ‘roll-over’ their bookings to 2021, so a lot of accommodation is already heavily booked once it is allowed to open and travel is permitted.
- It is expected that far more people will choose to holiday at home rather than travel abroad, leading to a large increase in demand.
- We’ve seen a fair few accommodation providers go out of business during the pandemic, reducing capacity.
- Many other B&Bs and cottages in Scotland are run by people who are semi-retired, and many of these people have understandably opted to retire now and close permanently given the pandemic.
If you do want a holiday in Scotland in 2021, it may be best to book now. However, make sure you check with the accommodation owner or their agency on what their policy is regarding being able to get a refund (or new dates) if Covid travel restrictions at the time mean that the holiday cannot go ahead.
This post will be revised as further information is received.