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Visiting Scotland with Covid restrictions

Hey all,

As my thoughts and temporary plans for a visit to Scotland in the spring of 2021 slowly dim I am wondering how tourism, and specifically tourism to Scotland, will fare as we adjust to things knowing more about this virus and how "to live with it". I've now done three trips away in my own country since the start of the pandemic and have enacted safety measures everywhere.

We've picked accomodations with Covid in mind, places with extra cleaning or away from clustered groups of people, not allowing people to come into our rooms, masks on in public areas, and most important social distancing. We've rarely eaten inside, choosing take out, curbside pickup, and eaten in our accommodations or vehicle or outside if the weather permitted.

We've avoided a few things where we would be required to be in large areas with concentrations of people, and even if we were near this we of course do the social distancing, good hand washing, and hand sanitizer as well.

I'm following the quarantine requirements of various countries, including my own, and hoping to see measures taken to reduce or eliminate this with better and faster testing at airports or reputable tests accepted before flights.

Given these tactics I am hoping tourism can happen again with smaller numbers excercising smart travel. In Scotland I see better opportunity for this with wide open spaces and plenty of things to do in the outdoors, perhaps with the exception of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and a few "space restrictive" castles here or there.

Am I being naïve? Overly optimistic? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Posted by
17896 posts

Although a vacation heavily focused on outdoor activities like walking might be more practical than a mostly-city trip, one issue you might run into in Scotland--especially in the western part of the country--is the amount of rain. Unless you're planning to travel with the sort of gear a hard-core walker (hiker) would need, you might have a fair number of days when you're casting about for something to do. And eating outdoors wouldn't always be practical. It will probably help quite a bit if you have a rental car so you can check the near-term weather forecast and head in the driest direction.

Posted by
5759 posts

I think there are a couple of factors militating against any early/easy opening of Scotland to travelers (of course it also depends on what your country you’re departing from is, and you don’t say):

1) any travel to Scotland almost requires arrival via/ transit through the cities of Glasgow or Edinburgh before you can get out to those wide open spaces. (People with private jets who can land in a small airfield of the wilds of the Highlands are perhaps exempt from this.)

2) First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been an incredible leader, in my view, on Covid for her country. Which means she has kept Scotland much more restricted than other parts of the UK.

I don’t think any of us are leisure traveling to Scotland any time soon. It makes me sad, but I understand why.

Posted by
423 posts

I think what you've been practicing are good habits for any travel you would wish to do. I don't think you're being naive, but it is certainly wishful thinking that you'd be able to travel to Scotland in spring of 2021. Maybe fall 2021 or spring 2022? What I worry about are all the many businesses that cater to travelers from afar. Restaurants, accommodation, tour companies/guides, small gift shops, etc. I hope that they are able to continue to stay in business.

Posted by
4357 posts

I think international travel for spring 2021 is optimistic. At the present rate, there’s a 50/50 chance that the U.K. will be in full or partial lockdown until a vaccine is widely available. Scotland has generally been more restricted than England.

There are many parts of the U.K. other than Scotland that are remote and have better weather in the spring, particularly areas on the east coast, such as Northumberland, parts of Yorkshire, Norfolk etc.

Quarantine of 14 days for international travel is likely to remain for some time. Plus with attractions, pubs and restaurants restricted or closed, it’s not the best time to visit.

Posted by
5470 posts

I did see where United Airlines is looking to introduce a Covid Test that you take at the beginning of your flight and you have the results as you walk through emigration. Sounds interesting. My UK-based boss really, really hopes that we can have a sales conference in Cambridge next June with her whole trans Atlantic team. We shall see.

Posted by
128 posts

I would LOVE to see a scheme like that introduced worldwide. Get a test as you depart, results on arrival!

Of course will they quarantine the whole plane if one person tests positive? And in a foreign country?