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23 February 2021

Travel agents in Scotland to stay closed until end of April


Travel agents in Scotland won't be allowed to reopen until two weeks after those in England, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

While all non-essential retail in England, including travel agents, will be able to reopen from 12 April, shops in Scotland will have to stay closed until 26 April.

Ms Sturgeon said there will be a 'phased but significant' re-opening economy in Scotland from the last week of April.

And she said Scotland will reintroduce a tiered system of geographical restrictions once the lockdown ends.

More details of each level will be released towards the end of next month.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday that international travel might resume from England from 17 May, but Ms Sturgeon didn't give an indication today of when Scots will be allowed to go on holiday.

Instead, Ms Sturgeon said she didn't want to give arbitrary dates that would be 'meaningless'.

But she did add that restrictions could be lifted earlier than planned if it is safe to do so.

When asked about whether she is in favour of vaccination certificates, Ms Sturgeon said further research was needed on how much protection the vaccine offers and whether it prevents infection and transmission.

But she added: "We should not close our minds to [them]. If [the introduction of vaccine certificates] can give us greater normality, let's think about it."


Trade reaction to Nicola Sturgeon's announcement

Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents' Association:

"What the travel sector in Scotland needed from today's statement was a glimmer of hope, but that door was firmly closed in our faces once more.

"There had been signs of travel booking enquiries beginning to flow through after the announcement yesterday, so there was some hope.

"But the strength of position from the Scottish government against travelling meant people were holding off to hear what was said today.

"Sadly, there is nothing in today's statement which gives us any hope that bookings will increase as they seem to have done in England following Boris Johnson's bullish comments yesterday.

"We'd strike a note of caution about large percentage increase figures being reported in England as opposed to actual booking numbers however.

"The travel sector has been decimated by the pandemic and it should be remembered that percentage increases don't always show the whole picture. An increase from one booking to five bookings is still a 500% increase.

"What we all need to see now from the Scottish and UK governments is a positive commitment to engage with the travel sector to find a clear path of out this and a way to stimulate the recovery of an industry which can't survive through these continued restrictions."


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