Summer staycations ‘possible if virus is under control’

Professor Linda Bauld also voiced hope that pubs and restaurants will open up again in the next few months.

Summer staycations ‘possible if virus is under control’ SNS Group

People should be able to take holidays in Scotland this summer if the country continues to make progress in suppressing coronavirus, a public health expert has said.

Professor Linda Bauld said while holidays abroad will be “off the cards for a while”, she is hopeful people will be able to take breaks domestically.

She also voiced hope that pubs and restaurants will open up again in the next few months, and “people should be hopeful that we’re not going to be stuck in this situation indefinitely”.

However she said measures such as mask wearing and social distancing are likely to continue for some time to control the virus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has advised people against booking holidays abroad and has also urged caution over booking trips domestically.

Prof Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, was asked about the prospect of summer holidays on BBC Radio Scotland on Friday.

She said: “I’m very hopeful that we’ll have breaks in Scotland and be able to take advantage of our fantastic hospitality and tourism industry here, and we need to support them. I think we’re looking forward to that.

“I’m certainly already thinking about where I could go in a couple of months’ time, and I think if we continue to make progress we will be able to holiday, not abroad, I think because of quarantine unfortunately foreign travel is going to be off the cards for a while, but travelling around more domestically – absolutely.”

On the reopening of pubs and restaurants, she added: “I’m really hopeful that they will be, I certainly think when the weather gets better we’ll be able to access that outdoors and then indoors with mitigation if we continue to make progress.

“It’s been really, really tough for that sector. The important thing is when we do open up, we don’t want to have to close down again and that’s why the vaccines are going to be absolutely essential.

“But we’re going to have some public health measures, face coverings, distancing and keeping our eye on not importing variants from overseas, for some time to come.”

She said she expects people will continue to have to wear face coverings for the rest of the year and in future winters.

More than one million people in Scotland have now had their first dose of a Covid vaccine.

Prof Bauld said she expects the country will return to the levels framework of restrictions as it reopens in stages.

She said that framework is based on a range of indicators and while progress is being made, the number of people in hospital needs to go down before things can change.

She said: “ICU and hospital numbers need to go down more and also the modelling of capacity needs to be in the right place, but I really do think we’re going to be hearing good news quite soon and people should be hopeful that we’re not going to be stuck in this situation indefinitely.”