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Scottish Government Guidance – 30 October 2020

On 23 October, the Scotland Strategic Framework was published: “This sets out the strategic approach to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible”.

Q. Can people still go on planned domestic holidays?

A. Domestic holidays are still allowed, however there are some restrictions, depending on the Level of the area that you live in.  Those in Levels 0, 1 and 2 should only holiday within other areas at those levels, as holiday travel is not essential, and non-essential travel, including holiday and visitor travel into or out of levels 3 and 4 is not permitted.  Those living in Level 3 areas can still use holiday accommodation in their own area.

Q. Can people still go on day trips, and to visitor attractions?

A. Yes, but there are restrictions on travel, based on the Level you are in, that affect this.  Those in Levels 0, 1 and 2 should only take trips and visit attractions, that are in locations within these same levels, as leisure visits are not essential, and non-essential travel, including leisure travel  into or out of levels 3 and 4 is not permitted.  Those living in Level 3 areas can still take day trips and visit attractions in their own area. Visitor attractions are closed in Level 4 areas.

If taking a day trip or visiting an attraction you should keep to the rules on household mixing, physical distancing, and hygiene at all times.

Q What are the new restrictions for the accommodation sector?

A. Accommodation (Hotels, B&Bs, Self-catering, Caravan and Camp Sites), are open in levels 0-2 with socialising and hospitality rules applicable. They are open in level 3 with same socialising and hospitality rules but guidance that advises non-essential (leisure/tourism) use only by locals applies.  Essential, e.g. work-related use can continue.  In level 4 essential only, e.g. work-related (No tourism) socialising and hospitality rules apply.

Q: Can I take new accommodation bookings.

A.  You should only take new bookings that are in line with the travel restrictions. In Level 0, 1 and 2 this means that you can take bookings from guests coming from areas that are in the same levels.  In Level 3 you should only take bookings from those within your own area. In Level 4 visitor accommodation is closed. There are exceptions for essential purposes, e.g. work, which allow accommodation to open in level 4 and travel between level 0, 1 and 2, and levels 3 and 4.

Q. I am an accommodation provider. I have forward bookings. What about these?

A. Where a booking is no longer in line with travel advice we continue to expect the industry to abide by the standards of good practice we have seen so far through the pandemic, and follow the CMA guidance with regard to refunds, cancellations, and rescheduling. In line with CMA guidance, a full refund should be offered to customers who booked holiday homes but could not stay in them due to lockdown restrictions. The Scottish Government recognises the difficult position that many holiday companies will find themselves in at present. The regulation of consumer protection is the responsibility of the UK Government at Westminster. The Competition and Markets Authority have issued guidance to businesses and consumers about refunds.

Q. What are the rules for campsites/caravan parks and other accommodation types?

A. We recognise that there are many different types of visitor accommodation available.  The same rules apply to all types of accommodation, whether a campsite, yurt, railway carriage, treehouse or castle.

Q. Can workers from more than one household stay in self-catering accommodation?

Certain sectors of the economy such as forestry, construction and digital connectivity are reliant on shared self-catering accommodation for work purposes.  While the recommended position is for individual, self-contained accommodation for each employee, given the risks of transmission within shared accommodation, it is recognised that this is not always feasible.  Therefore, the exemption whereby workers share accommodation should only be applied where the following conditions apply:

  • Circumstances necessitating individuals to stay in shared self-catering accommodation for work purposes is defined as work which requires a physical presence in a location away from home (where the distance is such that it is not feasible to commute) and the work itself cannot be done on a virtual basis and should only be for the length of time required for work to take place and separate accommodation is unavailable or impractical.
  • Where assurance has been provided that accommodation providers and workers will comply with physical distancing and public health guidance to mitigate risk (set out below).

Special consideration should also be given to situations where a worker may be vulnerable and / or unwilling to share accommodation due to risk of Covid-19 transmission and efforts made to find suitable alternative accommodation which meets their needs.

When separate accommodation units cannot be provided and where workers are willing to share, the following guidance and mitigations should be followed:

  • Households should be limited in size to ensure that workers can access kitchens, cleaning and washing facilities and other shared spaces while maintaining physical distancing guidelines.
  • Employers and accommodation providers should conduct individual risk assessments, to ensure that there is sufficient capacity within a shared accommodation unit to ensure that users have separate bedrooms and the ability to occupy shared areas such as kitchens and toilets on their own and then clean them afterwards.  Individual risk assessment should ensure that these are of such a number that each user will have the time to occupy and use these spaces on their own and then clean them afterwards, given that at high demand times such as mornings, evenings and mealtimes such facilities will be in particular demand.
  • Workers sharing self-catering accommodation should have their own bedrooms and should adhere to physical distancing.
  • Shared bathrooms and kitchens present one of the biggest risks for increased spread of the virus.  Workers should be given the appropriate resources and instruction on how to keep shared areas clean and ventilated.
  • Residents should also be advised to use shared rooms one at a time with cleaning and ventilation in between (e.g. preparing and eating a meal).
  • Where communal toilets are available outside of households and could be used more widely, providers should implement measures to decrease this risk as far as possible in line with guidance on the reopening or public and customer toilets
  • This should include increased cleaning and may include reducing access to a one in, one out basis.  Cleaning materials should be provided for users to ‘clean as they go’.

Q: What about guests from other parts of the UK and overseas?  Can they stay in my accommodation?

A: Once in a location people are expected to abide by the local rules in the place they are staying, but to prevent transmission of the virus between areas with different levels of prevalence we now have travel restrictions which impact on the holiday and visitor sector.  You should ensure that you only take bookings that accord with these travel restrictions.  The restrictions allow for transit across higher prevalence areas. This mean that overseas visitors may transit through areas to get from a travel hub (for example an airport) to accommodation elsewhere.  Care should be taken when doing this.

Where rules differ in other UK nations and overseas,  people must follow relevant local travel restrictions and are urged to think hard about the public health implications, and if travelling outside the UK, the potential quarantine implications.

Q: Can two families stay in adjacent self catering properties?

A: Yes, two families could stay in two adjacent self-catering cottages as these are two houses.

Q: If I am a self-catering operator and offer to give breakfast, could I then have two households?

A: No, not if this is in one house. It should be one household. This would clearly be a contrivance to circumvent the rules. It is a legal requirement to follow the rules. We expect this to happen and people to be sensible.

Q: I run a yacht charter business. Can I still operate?

A: Any accommodation, regardless of format, that is used for overnight accommodation on a self-catering basis, is treated as a private dwelling, for the purpose of these regulations, and therefore covered by the one household, to one house rule. This includes boats. You can continue to operate within the one household one house limit.

Inter-Level Travel

Regarding travel for those living in level 0, 1 or 2.  Please see the guidance on travel and transport which states that:

If you live in a Level 0, 1, or 2 area in Scotland, or are considering travel to Scotland from anywhere else, you should:

  • minimise unnecessary journeys between areas in different levels
  • avoid any unnecessary travel to places in Level 3 or Level 4 areas
  • if you have to travel for essential purposes, follow the guidance on travelling safely

Essentially this means that if you are in level 0, 1 or 2 you can move between levels in either 0, 1 or 2 but are advised to minimise rather than avoid these journeys to avoid any potential virus spread.  A booked or arranged holiday for someone between these areas would be acceptable but with the necessary precautions to reduce spread of the virus (hygiene, distancing, socialising guidance etc.).

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