Holidays in Scotland October 2020
2020 is the year that wasn’t. No arts, limited travel, few opportunities to see friends and family. March to June was the full lockdown. Early in July life started to go back to a ‘new normal’ with the hospitality sector still being the last to re-open. Just as businesses were springing back to life and travellers were once more getting excited at the prospect of a getaway, another blow was dealt. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was the first UK leader to impose harsher measures for hospitality businesses across the central belt of Scotland, as Covid-19 started to rise again in these areas. So what of those wanting to take Holidays in Scotland October 2020?
This has been closely followed by a full 4 week ‘circuit break’ lockdown in Northern Ireland and the division of English regions into ‘Tiers’.
As the UK becomes more segmented with different rules in different jurisdictions, the public are becoming so confused they are in danger of giving up trying to access any service in the hospitality sector.
This is going to hit a lot of our self-catering and hotel businesses hard, so here at Self Catering Scotland, we wanted to publish a blog around the latest directives. This is to provide reassurance that in most cases you can still take your holidays in Scotland, just being mindful of not mixing households, providing track and trace details, and maintaining distancing whilst wearing face coverings.
Below are the most frequently asked questions relating directly to self-catering accommodation and hotel accommodation in Scotland. This is for both parties, guests, and businesses.
Source Scottish Government Website.
Scottish Government updates | Scotland’s route map
On 21 May 2020 The First Minister announced ‘Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis’. On 9 July Scotland commenced with Phase 3 of Scotland’s route map to recovery.
It is mandatory for face masks to be worn in retail spaces and shops, in addition to when using public transport. Settings where face coverings must be legally worn in Scotland expanded to include certain indoor public places such as cinemas, galleries, museums and banks, from 8 August 2020. With it becoming mandatory in indoor hospitality venues for staff and customers when not eating and drinking (e.g. when entering a venue) from 14 September. View full phase 3 updates.
It is now mandatory to collect contact details of customers in a range of hospitality and public settings. The Scottish Government issued guidance to support customer and visitor data gathering for businesses and other establishments to assist contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.
Changes imposed from 25th September 2020
Other key points for the tourism industry
- From Friday 25 September, people from more than one household must not stay in self-catered accommodation together while the current restrictions on indoor private gatherings are in place. If staying in a hotel, bed and breakfast or similar accommodation, there should not be more than one household in each room booked.
- Hospitality premises should be collecting customer contact details for Test and Protect.
- Tables should be pre-booked where possible, with no queueing.
- There should be no background music and TVs should be muted to reduce the need for people to shout or lean into each other
Additional Nationwide Measures Scotland from 9th October 2020
Additional Nationwide measures (excepting central belt areas) in place from Friday 9 October until Sunday 25 October inclusive:
- pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes may only open indoors between 6am and 6pm, with no sales of alcohol
- pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes may open outdoors until 10pm, with sales of alcohol (where licensed)
- takeaways (including from pubs and restaurants) can continue
- evening meals may be served in accommodation for residents only but no alcohol can be served
- current meeting rules, maximum of six people from two households, continue to apply
- specific life events, such as weddings and funerals, may continue with alcohol being served, with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only)
FAQs for those taking domestic holidays in Scotland October 2020
Question: Can people still go on planned domestic holidays?
Answer: Yes, we are not imposing mandatory travel restrictions at this stage, and we are not insisting that people cancel any half term breaks they have planned. Where there are no planned holidays, we do ask those in the central belt not to travel out-with their area unless it is essential.
Question: Can people go on day trips during the autumn break?
Answer: Yes, but people in the central belt should aim to only do so within their own health board area and keep to the rules on household mixing, physical distancing, and hygiene at all times.
Question: Can I take new accommodation bookings during the tighter lockdown period from 10 – 25 October. I am in an area that is outside the areas where there are enhanced measures. Can I take visitors from these areas?.
Answer: The First Minister has been clear that those who have already planned breaks during the period of enhanced measures, which coincides with the school holidays in most areas, are still able to take them.
Given the advice to only undertake pre-planned trips and to consider whether a journey is necessary, we would not expect people to be planning new or additional trips during this period, as this would be contrary to that general advice, however the regulations do not preclude accommodation providers from taking further bookings, either in advance or as walk ins.
Accommodation providers will want to consider the advice for themselves, and the potential risks. We expect operators to be sensible here, particularly with regard to ‘walk ins’, and would not expect that someone, who may have already travelled, perhaps as they were unaware of the advice, to be left without a place to stay.
This is about discouraging travel and the making of new holiday plans that mean that people undertake additional travel, particularly between areas with high viral load and other areas where the virus is less prevalent, not banning it outright, and we expect both visitors and accommodation providers to make reasoned judgements in order to help to stem the spread of the virus.
If guests are already booked to come from the areas under enhanced measures there is no expectation that the provider should cancel their booking, nor would it be reasonable to do so.
Question: I have forward bookings for groups of more than 6 people from 2 different households – what should I do?
Answer: It is the responsibility of individuals in the first instance to ensure they are following the rules so those who have made the booking should be in touch to discuss alternatives. If not you should review your bookings and where necessary make contact to discuss alternatives. This may mean a cancellation but may also be a rebooking for numbers that comply with the new rules. This will avoid difficult situations on arrival if no action has been taken as it will not be possible to accommodate groups who present for service who are above the limits.
In terms of private coach operators as well as visitor attractions, the rule of six with no more than two households still applies but for clarity, that means there could be, for example, three different ‘sixes’ on a coach trip, as long as they wear face masks and physical distancing is in place.
Question: I know that the restrictions on household gatherings have changed from a maximum of 6 people from 2 different households, with children under 12 exempt. Households are no longer to permitted to meet with other households in private homes. How does this affect me as a accommodation provider?
Answer: Self-catering holiday accommodation is within the definition of a private dwelling for the purpose of these regulations and from 25 September all types of self-catering accommodation may only be used by a single household (or recognised extended household). The one household per house rule applies to all properties regardless of size and location. The one household rule per self-catering premises is now a legal requirement and every individual must follow the rules.
Question: I run a hotel, guest house, boarding house/bed and breakfast. What does the new regulations mean for me i.e. can two unrelated people (eg travelling workmen) share a twin room?
Answer: Hotels, guest houses, boarding houses and bed and breakfasts are excluded from the definition of private dwellings, and may continue to accommodate groups of up to six from no more than two households. There should be no sharing of rooms between members of different households, and there must be provision for physical distancing with separate households within a group, as well as between groups. This also applies in bunk houses and other forms of hotel accommodation. There should be no unregulated mixing between households, and any shared space (for example a kitchen/lounge that might previously have operated on a shared basis).
Question: Why is there a single household limit in self-catering premises, but not in hotels and hostels?
Answer: The restrictions on household gatherings are in place to prevent transmission of the virus. We know that there is a high risk of transmission in unregulated indoor environments, including between family and friends.
Self-catering premises are legally classed as private dwellings. They present the same level of potential risk as private dwellings. Whilst there may be protocols for cleaning, for example on changeover day, these are essentially self-contained unregulated spaces for the period of occupation, with no ongoing supervision of the guests, to ensure that mitigations such as physical distancing are observed.
Hotels/hostels and B&Bs are not classed as private dwellings. They are regulated premises, where the risk may be managed, through strict regulations, for example face coverings, physical distancing between groups and households, track and trace. These premises have staff who are charged with ensuring that these regulations are adhered to, by both staff and guests, and are liable if this is not the case.
This same level of oversight is neither practical or appropriate in self-catering premises, which effectively become someone’s home for the period of their stay. To reduce the risk of transmission no mixing between households may occur, in any private dwelling, including self-contained self-catering holiday accommodation (other than where an extended household is in place).
Question: I have self-catering forward bookings, for two households to stay together in my property, what should I do?
Answer: It is the responsibility of individuals in the first instance to ensure they are following the rules so those who have made the booking should be in touch to discuss alternatives. If not you should review your bookings and where necessary make contact to discuss alternatives. This may mean a cancellation but may also mean retaining the booking, so only a single household comes, in order to comply with the new rules.
You should proactively check forward bookings to avoid difficult situations on arrival if no action has been taken, as it will not be possible to accommodate groups of more than one household (or one extended household). As a business you should ensure your booking system is arranged so that it does not accept bookings that exceed these numbers. A simple step is to ensure staff who are taking calls for bookings are asking the right questions, including – is everyone from no more than 1 household? Businesses should not accept bookings from groups that are clearly exceeding the limit.
Question: Due to the fact that only one household can come, my clients now wish to cancel their booking. What should I do?
Answer: We continue to expect the industry to abide by the standards of good practice we have seen so far through the pandemic, and follow the CMA guidance with regard to refunds, cancellations, and rescheduling. In line with CMA guidance, a full refund should be offered to customers who booked holiday homes but could not stay in them due to lockdown restrictions.
The Scottish Government recognises the difficult position that many holiday companies will find themselves in at present. The regulation of consumer protection is the responsibility of the UK Government at Westminster. The Competition and Markets Authority have issued guidance to businesses and consumers about refunds.
Question: My booking is from visitors from England/elsewhere, where the rules are different? Which rules should they abide by?
Answer: All families, taking a self-catering holiday in Scotland, whatever their place of origin would have to abide by the one household per house rule.
Question: What if people travelling from Scotland are going to stay in self-catering accommodation in England?
Answer: Scottish people going to holiday in England, would fall under English regulations, and this is the case for other UK nations and overseas, however where these rules are different from Scotland consideration, people are urged to think hard about the public health implications, and if travelling outside the UK, the potential quarantine implications.
Question: Can two families stay in adjacent self catering properties?
Answer: Yes, two families could stay in two adjacent self-catering cottages as these are two houses.
Question: If I am a self-catering operator and offer to give breakfast, could I then have two households?
Answer: No, not if this is in one house. It should be one household. This would clearly be a contrivance to circumvent the rules. It is a legal requirement to follow the rules. We expect this to happen and people to be sensible.
Please continue to support accommodation providers if you can and enjoy your holiday in Scotland October 2020.