South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Rural Economy Spokesperson Colin Smyth has criticised the Scottish Government for creating confusion for local tourism businesses after a u-turn on advice on new lockdown rules.

Following the announcement on Tuesday (22 September) by the First Minister of a ban on visiting family and friends in their home, the Scottish Government said that pubs, restaurants and hotels and self-catering holiday properties would be exempt from the new tighter rules.

However, the following the day they changed their advice and have now said that families and friends from two households CAN’T stay in the same self-catering property- but the exemption for hotels, pubs and restaurants would remain.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, who is responsible for tourism and confirmed the new tighter rules for self-catering providers, to provide more support for the sector. The sector has already seen widespread cancellations following the new six person, two household limit on the number of people who could gather in one household after it came into effect earlier this month.

Colin Smyth said: “Local tourism providers have been dealt another blow at a time they have been trying to build back their business. Self-catering providers who have contacted me are frustrated that at first they were told that rules that allow you to holiday in a hotel or visit a pub or restaurant with another household, would also apply to self-catering accommodation but that was then changed and self-catering properties are no longer exempt.

“There is an irony that the Scottish Government recently funded a VisitScotland campaign recently to get people to book holidays at home in Scotland- and are now telling people to cancel many of those bookings.

“Everyone understands that COVID-19 is not under control despite previous claims by the Government that they were on course to eradicate it, and sadly new restrictions are therefore coming in. But having made this decision, the Scottish Government needs to face up to the consequences and provide support to the businesses impacted. If they don’t there will be more jobs being lost in our area.”

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