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Tourism sector told to prepare for July 15 reopening

Fergus Ewing announced that tourism in Scotland could restart from July 15.

Tourism businesses have been told to prepare to reopen from July 15 — should Scotland move to the third phase on the government’s route map for easing lockdown restrictions.

Tourism secretary Fergus Ewing today offered clarity to a sector which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Mr Ewing warned that “absolutely nothing can be guaranteed” and the July 15 date may be changed should the COVID-19 evidence require it to be moved.

Mr Ewing said: “I’ve been engaging with businesses since the beginning of the outbreak and I have heard their calls for more clarity, which today I can provide.

“Businesses should start to prepare for a provisional return to trading — with appropriate safety guidelines — on the July 15 2020.

“This date cannot be definitive and is conditional on public health advice and progression to phase three of the route map.

“Businesses must now use this time to satisfy the necessary regulations and adapt to the new way of living.”

MSPs were also told that travel restrictions are also expected to be eased from July 15 to coincide with a careful reopening of the tourism sector.

It has also been reported that a marketing plan is being prepared by the Scottish Government to reassure rural communities about health and safety measures for incoming tourists.

Further guidance will also be published by the Scottish Government which will assist businesses prepare for reopening.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, described the announcement was “a hugely positive milestone in our road to recovery”.

Huge challenges remain as to how accommodation providers, visitor attractions, hotels, pubs and restaurants will operate in the “new normal” but he told the BBC: “The reassurance that there is a summer season for tourism in Scotland will offer a huge comfort and relief to many thousands of businesses.”

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