Houses in the holiday village of Luss on Loch Lomondside and Dr Catherine Calderwood who used hers while telling others not to do so.

By Bill Heaney

Holiday homes have been a hot topic since Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer decided to use hers two weekends in a row.

Dr Catherine Calderwood was stood down from daily press conference duty with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who caved in to public opinion that she should be disciplined.

Quite simply, Dr Calderwood was perceived to be thumbing her nose at the coronavirus advice, which she herself called for and kept giving to people to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis.

Her trips to the house on the East Coast were a clear case of “do as I say, not as I do”.

Unsurprisingly, Dr Calderwood didn’t get a mention when the contentious subject came up at Holyrood this week.

It is something the Government would rather forget.

Second homes were raised by Gail Ross, a Highland MSP, who said: “In my constituency and in other remote and rural areas, there has, since the beginning of lockdown, been a lot of worry and, indeed, anger about people coming to second and holiday homes to self-isolate.

“We know that the police have new powers, but is consideration being given to empowering local authorities to take additional action?

“How will we ensure that tourists and visitors feel welcome to come back to such areas once the restrictions have been lifted?”

Minister Aileen Campbell said second home users would be reported to the police.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell, replied: “I understand exactly why there is anxiety in areas where people visit, when the advice is to do the contrary.

“The advice that says that people should avoid travelling unless it is essential has been very clear. The First Minister reiterated that important message in her update today.

“We are starting to see that people are possibly feeling a bit frustrated about the restrictions, but it is critical that we continue to abide by the message to avoid unnecessary travel.

“People must avoid travelling unless it is essential, and must not travel to second homes, but must remain in their primary homes.”

She added: “The regulations are clear that Police Scotland needs to enforce the regulations on individual movement and gatherings in public spaces. We believe that that is the right approach.

“At this point, we are not considering additional powers for local authorities but, as ever, we are willing to engage and to consider new additional ideas that would help to reiterate and underline the important health messages.

“Although Gail Ross is right to ask about how we will start to welcome people back to those areas when the restrictions are eased, that is a discussion for a point in the future.

“My colleagues, in particular Fergus Ewing and others, are engaging with rural and Highland communities to work out what might be the best steps to recovery in those areas.

“However, that has to be done at the right point in time, when there is no risk to public health. At the moment, the clear message is that people should avoid unnecessary travel, and should continue to stay in their primary residence.

“We will continue to support communities that feel that that is not being abided by, and we will ensure that Police Scotland is appropriately informed of concerns that residents or communities have.”

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