As Shetland tourism related businesses begin planning to reopen as part of phase two and three of the route map to recovery, we want to ensure that businesses and visitors alike understand the guidance and their responsibilities.
We now know that the majority of tourism businesses should plan for either 3rd of July (self-catering only) or 15th of July to resume business, depending on the latest Scottish Government guidance. How businesses prepare to reopen as part of the route map to recovery is crucially important. For visitors to Shetland and local residents the good news is that you will soon be able to take those long-awaited cherished holidays, short breaks, or trips. Our members look forward to welcoming you, but because of the virus some things will be different.
You may be looking for assurance about your safety. Equally our community have some concerns that the virus may accelerate when we re-open tourism. For everyone’s protection, tourism related businesses have undertaken new risk assessments, applied higher standards of cleaning and changed their procedures to comply with the new Government advice. Our members have been working hard to ensure safety for reopening; this means investing in PPE, equipment, adapting buildings, training staff, or developing entirely new ways of working. All added expense, stress, and pressure at an already difficult time. Many tourism related businesses were not eligible for any funding at all, or funding received has barely covered costs or has been used for refunding customers. The Scottish Government have always been clear that any grants were not to replace lost revenue but to be ‘a bridge to see businesses through to the other side’. These businesses have lost the vast majority of their annual income and have limited time to salvage something of the short season. Several have decided it is simply not viable to reopen this year.
For those businesses who are reopening, they are working hard to ensure that all the right measures are in place to make your holiday or trip as safe as possible, while also ensuring the wellbeing of their staff, themselves, their own families and the wider community. Nobody wants Shetland to have an outbreak of Covid cases.
We ask that you think carefully about your trip to Shetland, or if you are a resident and plan to take a trip within the isles to think about your leisure plans. If you have any symptoms, then stay at home or return home as soon as possible. Adhere to social distancing. Ensure good hygiene. Check what is open, what plans they have in place, for example, would premises like you to wear a face covering or do they have limited capacity or a one-way system? Research and plan your trip thoroughly and ensure you follow all the latest government guidance. Some businesses may not be open or may have reduced hours and we would encourage all Shetland tourism related businesses to ensure their social media and websites are kept up to date.
Please keep to the guidelines, especially those on social distancing and hand washing, while having patience and respect for each other.
In the meantime, we look forward to our tourism industry reopening and welcoming visitors back to our beautiful isles.