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Road Map out of Lockdown

In a statement to Parliament today, the First Minister gave details of the updated Strategic Framework and set out initial priorities and an indicative timeframe for cautiously easing lockdown restrictions.  Further details on the plans will be published in mid-March.

The First Minister said, while lockdown measures have had a positive impact, suppression of the virus is still heavily reliant on restrictions due to high transmissibility and case numbers. However, it is hoped that vaccination will become the main tool for suppressing the virus once the vast majority of the adult population has received at least one dose.

The Framework sets out:

  • A progressive easing of the current level 4 restrictions that apply across most of Scotland at intervals of at least 3 weeks – along with changes nationally on education and care home visiting – with the immediate priority being the continued return of schools. The first easing started yesterday with the partial return of schools.
  • A move – subject to the data allowing it – fully back to a levels system from the last week in April, when it would be expected to see phased but significant re-opening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers. More detail will be set out in mid-March on the indicators that will guide decisions on levels, as well as on any revision to the content of each level – taking account of experience and sectoral views – and the order in which we expect those parts of the economy that have been restricted to start reopening.
  • Ongoing financial support, which is set out in the Framework, continuing to be available to businesses. This includes the ongoing commitment to fund the Strategic Framework Business Fund and to provide Level 4 payments for an additional month once businesses are moved down a level. These proposals are contingent on receipt of additional consequentials from the UK Government.

Further Information

Link to today’s news release https://www.gov.scot/news/gradually-easing-lockdown-restrictions/

Link to First Minister’s statement https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-update-first-ministers-statement-23-february-2021/

Read the updated Strategic Framework  https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-strategic-framework-update-february-2021/

Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, said:


“The First Minister had the opportunity to provide detail, clarity, and certainty to the thousands of self-catering businesses across Scotland today and the Scottish Government failed completely to do so.

“What makes this muddle even more disappointing to us, and to Scotland’s tourism sector as a whole, is that it effectively means we are lagging behind our colleagues south of the border who already have an indicative date to reopen and as a result have already seen bookings come pouring in for late spring. We are now not only having to cancel and refund existing bookings, but we are also having to turn down bookings from south of the border.

“Worse still, unlike those in other sectors, the self-catering sector has yet to see any of the sectoral support packages announced on December 21st reach the bank accounts of self-catering operators, there is no certainty that ongoing financial support will be forthcoming once we exit Level 4 and with no bookings in the foreseeable future many are in a perilous state.

“As an industry, we stand ready to lead the way for tourism to reopen in Scotland when it is safe to do so, by offering families a safe and managed environment to finally find respite after months of harsh lockdown.”


Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said:

“Today’s provisional timescale of the gradual re-opening of the economy as set out by the First Minister today is welcome, however, I know from the many conversations I’ve had with tourism businesses this week, and particularly within the last 24 hours that they were hoping for more detail around the pathway to reopening. The detail announced today does not go far enough in giving our sector the clarity needed at this point to plan for reopening.

The level system is a divergence from the route map set out by the Prime Minister yesterday and causes huge issues for businesses who we know are being contacted today with enquiries to book from those living south of the border. With no international tourism likely for some time, there is greater dependency on Scotland’s ability to attract tourism from within the UK and we need to provide a degree of reassurance that their bookings can be accommodated.

Our tourism industry is not able to accept bookings with confidence; not all will wait for our sector to gradually re-open to book. We’ve seen the huge spike in bookings from England for foreign travel over the last 24 hours and there is a great fear that Scotland’s tourism industry will lose out in what could have been a buoyant summer season.

Given that Scotland will now be opening behind England, there is an even greater need for a marketing campaign to boost late summer and autumn bookings and ensure that Scotland’s tourism industry isn’t disadvantaged in the long term. We know that people are actively searching for holidays for later in the year; the window of opportunity is now.

Our industry had hoped for the ability to trade at Easter; many of our businesses have not traded viably since September 2019 so it will be absolutely critical that robust and targeted support is offered across the tourism sector to give these businesses the best chance possible of survival until full reopening. The level of support has been insignificant for many businesses to date; it remains the case that some businesses have been without funding since the start of the crisis.

The First Minister’s reference to tapered support for businesses that are not able to reopen fully will offer some comfort; there are increasing numbers of businesses that simply don’t have funds in the bank to survive beyond Easter.

The STA looks forward to continued and immediate discussions with the Scottish Government to ensure that the right package of support is drawn up for what is undoubtedly the hardest hit sector in the economy and to gain more clarity around some of the detail announced today.”

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