Council urges caution as lockdown restrictions eased

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Argyll and Bute Council is urging people to act responsibly and follow national guidance after a busy weekend at popular beauty spots as lockdown rules are relaxed.

As of last Friday, May 29, the regulations on meeting other people in Scotland were changed to allow one household to meet another household outside in parks or gardens.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon advised that the total number of people gathering should be a maximum of eight or lower if possible.

She added that people should ‘always meet outdoors’ and always keep two metres away from the other household.

‘We are not saying you must pick one household and only meet the same one but we are saying that you should not meet with more than one other household at a time,’ she said.

‘This will not be the law – but we strongly recommend you do not meet with more than one other household per day.’

Sitting and sunbathing in parks and ‘open areas’ is also allowed, as are some ‘non-contact outdoor leisure activities’ including golf, tennis, bowls and fishing – see the back page for more information.

People will be able to travel ‘preferably by walking or cycling’, Ms Sturgeon said, to a location ‘near’ their local community.

‘We are not setting a fixed distance limit in law but our strong advice is not to travel further than about five miles for leisure or recreation,’ the First Minister said. ‘And it’s still the case you should not go to our island communities except for essential reasons.’

She added: ‘We simply don’t want, in this phase, to see large numbers of people at tourist hotspots or local beauty spots.

‘Crowds of people, even if they are trying to socially distance, bring more risk than we judge is acceptable and safe at this point.

‘We are asking you, for now, to please stay within or close to your own local area and don’t use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary.’

The weekend’s warm weather brought high volumes of visitors to Argyll, to areas including Luss and Arrochar which in turn created antisocial issues including parking congestion and littering in the village and across beaches.

Kintyre and the Islands councillor Robin Currie, the council’s policy lead for roads and infrastructure, said: ‘It is disappointing that some people chose to ignore national advice and clearly travelled more than five miles to visit.

‘We cannot be complacent whilst the risk of infection remains. The reckless actions of a few may impact us all. Ignoring advice to stay local will simply delay our recovery and have a further impact on the economy.

‘We understand that people are desperate to enjoy being outdoors but we still need to exercise caution and help protect our rural communities. Our car parks and toilets remain closed so please think very carefully before making a journey.

‘Our local economy depends on the tourism industry and we are just as keen as everyone to welcome people back to the area, but only when it is safe.’

The council will continue to work closely with Police Scotland to monitor antisocial behaviour and is dedicating extra resources to popular sites this weekend, by having more wardens on site.

At the time of going to print, national guidance remained: stay at home as much as possible; stay local, with a five-mile limit recommended; avoid busy and popular beauty spots; and keep two metres apart.

For the latest government advice, visit https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19