John Finnie MSP, Scottish Greens, has called on the Scottish Government to put in plans to protect rural communities from a potential influx of tourists over the Easter weekend.
He 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, 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.”
Rhoda Grant MSP, Labour, had the same message urging people not to travel to the Highlands and Islands during the Easter break.
Rhoda Grant said:
“Anyone tempted to travel to the Highlands and Islands over Easter, please, please don’t.
“We have limited resources in our region and you will be putting people at great risk. Please stay at home and only go out for permitted purposes.
“If you think you can sneak in under the radar, I can assure you that our communities are on high alert at the moment for anyone breaking the rules.
“It is hard for families and friends who would normally meet up, but these measures are necessary, especially to protect the elderly and for the most vulnerable.”
“No-one can be ignorant of the advice not to travel and this just puts communities at risk. I hope that the police will take strong measures to make sure that people breaking the lockdown go home and stay safe in their own areas.”
Only 27,518 people in Scotland have been tested for Covid-19 as the nation nears 3 weeks of lockdown with no end in sight. 447 people have died in Scotland from Covid 19 (as at 9th of April) – every one leaves behind grieving family and friends.
Statistics released by the National Records of Scotland give a clearer picture. Stats up to 5th of April in Scotland.
Pete Whitehouse, Director of Statistical Services at NRS , said:
“We are living in unprecedented times and all of these deaths are tragic. These statistics, when placed alongside the other important evidence being made available by the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland (HPS), will be valuable to the understanding of the progress and impact of the COVID-19 virus across Scotland.
“We have produced these statistics based on deaths involving COVID-19, so this includes any deaths where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate, whether it is the underlying cause of death or a contributory cause and includes registered deaths resulting from suspected or probable COVID-19.
“Using this methodology means that our statistics will differ from the number of deaths released daily by HPS which report on deaths with an associated positive test for COVID-19, and it is expected that NRS statistics will show a higher number of deaths. This is because NRS figures report on deaths involving confirmed and also suspected or probable cases of COVID-19.”