Scots campsites and caravan parks to close

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image captionCampervan owners have been urged only to use motor homes for "essential journeys"

Scotland's campsites, caravan parks and holiday parks are to close in a bid to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Visitors staying at leisure sites have been asked to return home "where they can do so safely and practically".

Ministers said those who have their primary home at one of these sites will be allowed to stay.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said additional visitors to rural areas "will put a severe strain on local resources and the NHS".

The move has been backed by several industry groups, who said "now is not the time to take a holiday or even a day trip".

Last week people were urged to stop travelling to the Highlands, amid reports that more people were travelling to the area to avoid the virus.

As of Tuesday morning, 584 people in Scotland have tested positive for Covid-19 - up from 499 on Monday - but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this figure "will be an underestimate".

A total of 16 people with the virus have died in Scotland.

Stringent measures urging people to "stay at home" were announced on Monday night, with the UK entering a state of "lockdown" to curb the spread of the virus and ease pressure on health services.

People are only to leave their homes to buy food or medicine, to exercise once per day, for medical reasons or to travel to or from essential work.

Mr Ewing confirmed on Tuesday that restrictions extend to caravan and holiday parks, saying that "this is not the time for holidays, travel, or for being away from home".

The minister said "all those who can safely do so should now return to their primary residence", adding that sites should remain partially open only for those who have their main home there or are unable to leave.

He said: "We recognise this is an incredibly testing time for the tourism industry and we appreciate the tremendous effort underway by businesses, large and small, within the sector to respond.

"I am therefore grateful to the business organisations that represent campsites, holiday parks, caravan sites, and motor home hire businesses for supporting their members to close at this difficult time."

Jeanette Wilson, policy director of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association in Scotland, said the group "wholeheartedly supports the Scottish government's directive to all parks in Scotland".

'Immediate action'

And Catherine Bunn of the Campervan and Motorhome Professional Association said any hire companies with vehicles still out to recall them "with immediate effect".

She added: ""We are asking all motor home owners across the country to only use their motor homes for essential journeys - now is not the time to take a holiday or even a day trip. We urge the rest of the hospitality sector to follow suit.

"Visitors staying in pods, lodges, self-catering and static caravans should all be encouraged to return home immediately, even if that means curtailing a holiday. We will be delighted to welcome visitors back when Scotland re-opens, but for now, to protect our vulnerable communities, the hospitality industry must take unified immediate action."

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