Travel

The ‘new normal’ for Scotland’s hospitality industry

In Scotland, from 3 July, lockdown will begin to be lifted as a series of new guidelines are put in place across the hospitality industry. Here’s what you can look forward to as Scotland stirs from its summer slumber

On 24 June First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the five-mile travel limit in place in Scotland will be lifted from 3 July, while beer gardens can re-open from 6 July. On top of this, from 15 July, all holiday accommodation can open up, along with indoor areas of pubs and restaurants. On the same date museums and galleries will be allowed to welcome visitors for the first time in almost four months. But things will not be the same as they were before. Of course, all of these moves depend on certain safety measures being put in place.

Firstly, businesses are required to keep customers contact details on file for weeks after their stay, to enable the efficient tracking and tracing of coronavirus cases. Secondly, though advisors are still reviewing whether the 2m (6ft 6in) physical distancing rule should be eased, businesses are working tirelessly to put in place new protocols and processes so they can re-open in mid-July. In England, in an effort to get as many hospitality businesses up and running again, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new ‘1m-plus’ rule, which allows a lesser distance if there are other mitigating factors present, such as screens or masks. This will be one option being considered in Scotland, but either way it will not solve all the industry’s problems by any means. With some kind of social distancing here to stay, what will the ‘new normal’ look like and how might it affect your travel plans this summer?

The ‘new normal’

Gleneagles is preparing to open on 15 July. Credit: Gleneagles Hotel

Gleaneagles, one of Scotland’s most iconic hotels and sporting estates, was excited to announce they would be re-opening on 15 July. However, a number of adjustments have been made and measures put in place to provide the highest standards of safety at all times for everyone. From how the hotel team will interact with guests and colleagues, to checking in, moving around the hotel and servicing bedrooms, food preparation, and the seating plans in restaurants and bars – an enhanced set of hygiene and safety measures have been implemented across the estate to provide even greater peace of mind during guests’ time at ‘the Glorious Playground’.

The great outdoors remain open. Credit: Gleneagles Hotel

Though all the dates announced by the government are conditional on the number of coronavirus cases continuing to decrease, the industry is hopeful. The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel in the idyllic village of Luss have planned to open their self-catering accommodation as of 3 July, shortly followed by their pub beer garden on 6 July, and their restaurant and rooms from 15 July. The Ship Inn in Elie and The Torridon in the Highlands are following suit. Others, like The Fife Arms in Braemar are anticipating to open their doors a little later on 1 August, with many logistics to iron out beforehand. At this time, patience is much needed.

Thankfully, with many country hotels and pubs lucky enough to have their own grounds, a staycation in Scotland can still be entirely authentic in as much as your outdoor experiences remain largely unspoilt. Leisure pursuits such as walking, golfing and fishing among others remain open for all to enjoy at a social distance.

Royal Lochnagar Suite. Credit: Gleneagles Hotel

Plan ahead

Finally, with no certainty that any of the new rules will be put in place on the dates planned, many hotels and attractions will be offering flexible booking policies to allow for last-minute rearrangements. VisitScotland, who are updating their website and social media regularly in-line with new daily announcements from the Scottish governemnt “ask everyone who is considering future day trips and overnight stays to please plan ahead carefully and check opening arrangements with the businesses directly.”

Up-to-date details on Scotland’s COVID-19 travel guidelines can be found here.

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