Thu 9 Apr, 2020

The Scottish Government must put plans in place to protect rural communities from a potential influx of tourists over the Easter weekend, according to Scottish Greens Rural and Island Communities Spokesperson John Finnie MSP.

The Highlands and Islands MSP highlighted concerns that the limited health services in rural areas could be put at risk if a considerable number of people decide not to adhere to guidance and emergency regulations.

John Finnie MSP said:

“The overwhelming majority of people must be commended for following official guidance, adhering to regulations, and staying at home. We do know however that some irresponsible individuals have continued to travel to second homes and that unbelievably properties are still being advertised on sites like Airbnb. The police have also raised concerns around a considerable number of large gatherings and house parties still taking place.

“The Highlands and Islands and other rural places thrive on tourism in ordinary times, but the current situation is far from ordinary and people must realise that these rural areas are living, breathing communities.

“There is considerable concern in rural communities that people may flock there over the Easter weekend. By travelling to these areas people put pressure on the already limited health infrastructure, risk leaving nothing in shops for local people, and potentially spread the virus too.

“The Scottish Government must explore every option to ensure that rural communities are protected at this time of crisis.

“Restricting ferry services to essential journeys has brought much needed relief for island communities and I’d urge Ministers to consider what equivalent measures may be required on the mainland to protect those communities.

“All measures, up to and including closing the snow gates, must be considered to protect communities during this unprecedented emergency period.”

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