Level zero broadly welcomed in Oban

Level zero is on the way which means social distancing is reduced to one metre.

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Tourism leaders have broadly welcomed plans for Scotland to move to level zero from Monday.

While it is not a complete lifting of restrictions, the drop down to zero does provide more freedom, with social distancing indoors and outdoors reduced to one metre.

Hospitality businesses can remain open until midnight – providing their current licence permits.

And pre-booked slots at pubs and restaurants will also no longer be required, although providing contact details for test and protect remains.

Under level zero all cafés, pubs and restaurants can open, including tourist accommodation, visitor attractions and nightclubs.

Most restrictions in Scotland are expected to be entirely removed from August 9 – although this is subject to a review.

Linda Battinson, of Oban Tourism Group, broadly welcomed the move but said some tourism operators would still not be able to operate at maximum capacity.

She said: ‘Oban’s tourism industry will be greatly relieved to see that cautious progress continues to be made towards the removal of all remaining restrictions.

‘It’s good to see that the data supported a move to level zero for all of Scotland, but having different rules in different parts of the UK is challenging.’

She added: ‘Clearly there will be disappointment from some small businesses, especially those in marine tourism who were expecting the complete removal of social distancing restrictions in outdoor settings.

‘They will now miss the peak weeks for the English summer visitors and a short summer season will sadly become even shorter.’

Mrs Battinson said the town would continue to promote its ‘Obanminded’ message, a visitor charter which sets out tips on keeping safe.

Marc Crothall, of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said level zero represented ‘the most normal conditions’ since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Mr Crothall said: ‘I know that the news of physical distancing requirements being reduced indoors to one metre will be a boost for those not yet permitted to trade with this measure in place, particularly the visitor attraction sector which has been hit particularly hard by regulations around social distancing; it remains the hope for all in the sector that social distancing requirements will be removed altogether from August 9.’

He added: ‘It will be disappointing news that the one metre distancing will remain outdoors for many of those business operating in the outdoor adventure and marine sector, especially as their counterparts south of the border are able to trade without this condition.

‘Self-catering businesses will also be disappointed that there has been no forward movement in terms of the numbers permitted to stay in larger properties; by the time this next change hopefully comes on August 9, it will be too late for larger self-catering properties as our peak season will have started to wind down and they will have lost the opportunity to recoup some of their losses over the summer.’