By Democrat reporter
In line with recent advice on coronavirus announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, campsites, caravan and holiday parks on Loch Lomondside and right across the country are to close immediately to new arrivals, including tourers, other transient visitors and holiday lets.
Sites should also advise current visitors and owners of second homes on sites to return home and stay at home, where they can do so safely and practically.
Second-home owners remain defiant about their right to decamp from cities despite growing hostility from local residents who are afraid that local services will not cope with the influx.
A surge of people leaving cities to live in holiday homes, caravans and second homes has prompted the government to instruct them to remain in their primary residence amid fears that the virus will spread to rural areas.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, confirmed that ferries would no longer accept non-essential passengers on routes to islands.
Despite the hostility, those with alternative accommodation away from the big cities remained, for the most part, resolute.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “As the Scottish Government has made abundantly clear, this is not the time for holidays, travel, or for being away from home. Additional visitors, particularly to rural areas and our islands, will put a severe strain on local resources and the NHS, which is not set up to cover the need of non-residents long term.
“All those who can safely do so should now return to their primary residence. However, I also understand that in some cases residential mobile homes, motorhomes, campervans and holiday lets on a caravan park or tourist site may be someone’s primary home, and that some people will be unable to return to where they usually live.
“Sites should be sympathetic to the circumstances of these individuals, and should, where necessary, remain open on a partial basis for these occupants only.
“We recognise this is an incredibly testing time for the tourism industry and we appreciate the tremendous effort underway by businesses, large and small, within the sector to respond. I am therefore grateful to the business organisations that represent campsites, holiday parks, caravan sites, and motorhome hire businesses for supporting their members to close at this difficult time.
”We look forward to welcoming visitors back to campsites, caravan and holiday parks in Scotland when it is safe to do so.”
Jeanette Wilson, Policy Director of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association in Scotland, said: “BH&HPA members in Scotland have already closed their holiday and touring parks with great sadness, yet they are glad to contribute to the fight against the virus.
“They are grateful to the Scottish Government for their support in this process and sensitivity to the individual circumstances of park customers. With this taken into account, BH&HPA wholeheartedly supports the Scottish Government’s directive to all parks in Scotland.”
Catherine Bunn representing the Campervan and Motorhome Professional Association (CaMPA) said: “Many of our members have already taken action to ground their hire fleets, but we have asked any hire companies with vehicles still out, to recall them back to base with immediate effect.
“We are asking all motorhome owners across the country to only use their motorhomes for essential journeys – now is not the time to take a holiday or even a day trip. We urge the rest of the hospitality sector to follow suit.
“Visitors staying in pods, lodges, self-catering and static caravans should all be encouraged to return home immediately, even if that means curtailing a holiday. We will be delighted to welcome visitors back when Scotland re-opens, but for now, to protect our vulnerable communities, the hospitality industry must take unified immediate action.”
Meanwhile, Fergus Ewing is urging people to stop travelling to the Highlands and Islands in a bid to avoid the Coronavirus.
People with second homes and campervans have been reportedly travelling to the area in recent days.
Mr Ewing said: “I am furious at the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of some people travelling to the Highland and Islands. This has to stop now. Let me be crystal clear, people should not be travelling to rural and island communities full stop. They are endangering lives. Do not travel.
“Panic buying will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of rural shops and potentially puts unwanted pressure on NHS services in our rural communities.
“The Scottish Government’s advice is that essential travel only should be undertaken. We have been in touch with CalMac and industry leaders to discuss what further measures may be required to deal with this issue.”