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Wild Scotland – important update regarding 1 metre verses 2 metre physical distancing for the Wildlife, Activity and Marine Tourism Sector – specifically in relation to boat day trips and operators that use transport for guests (e.g minibuses)

7th August 2020

Important update regarding 1 metre verses 2 metre physical distancing for the Wildlife, Activity and Marine Tourism Sector – specifically in relation to boat day trips and mini bus transportation of guests.

Firstly, we would like to thank Wild Scotland members for responding earlier in the week to urgent questions relating to physical distancing and other challenges for the activity and marine tourism sector. As always your feedback was incredibly valuable and much appreciated.

On Wednesday 5th August, Douglas McAdam Wild Scotland Chair, Victoria Brooks Wild Scotland Manager and Alan Rankin Sail Scotland CEO met with the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing. The meeting was arranged to discuss the ongoing challenges for the Wildlife, Activity and Marine sector during Covid-19. Discussions were specifically relating to the desperate need of ongoing support and to the immediate challenges around 2 metre physical distancing for activity and marine operators.

We have been working tirelessly alongside Sail Scotland to highlight the safe operation of wildlife, activity and marine operations with 1 metre physical distancing in place along with appropriate risk assessments. As a direct result of ongoing lobbying by Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland, we are delighted to report the following which will enable many businesses to operate at a larger capacity. 

As of today (Friday 7th August), we can confirm that the Regulations providing for the 1 metre physical distancing rule in relation to passenger transport service premises now include tourism transport operations – if available for use by the public. This would include for example: wildlife watching day boat trips, sailing day trips, other tourism boat day trips, transport of guests to activities by minibus etc. This means that face coverings must be warn on vehicles and vessels providing these services and at off-road premises where passengers get on and off those service. Physical distancing of 1 metre must also be observed at such premises. 

Please bear in mind that there will be limits on the scope of the application of the passenger transport rules and all proposed tourism activities must be considered on their own merits.

The Transport Scotland Guidance for Transport Operators covers physical distancing requirements and risk assessments on vehicles and vessels (as opposed to on premises). It is framed broadly as being applicable to operators of transport services and provides for 1 metre physical distancing requirements in respect of vehicles and vessels.

Whilst tourism and hospitality activities consistent with passenger transport services are included in the existing regulations providing a physical distancing exemption of at least 1 metre, all other activities or elements of an experience should adhere to the Scottish Government Guidance for the Tourism and Hospitality sector, which covers the whole sector, including marine and adventure tourism. Please note that any overnight activities must also adhere to the General Guidance and Tourism and Hospitality Guidance, meaning that and the usual household limits apply, and at this point, no more than three households can meet together indoors (including on a boat), and physical distancing of 2 metres must be maintained at all times.

In short, the Transport Guidance for Operators allows businesses to operate at 1 metre on board vehicles and vessels and would enable for example a larger capacity for day trips on boats or transport to and from activities in minibuses etc.

We recognise that this is welcome news for some but not all. We will continue to work closely with partners and the Scottish Government to find the best solution going forward and we will continue to lobby for 1 metre physical distancing for all marine and activity operators. We also recognise the tremendous worry and the challenges in the sector – we will continue to lobby hard on your behalf to ensure you get the support you need and deserve.

  • For further clarification please feel free get in touch with Victoria victoria@wild-scotland.co.uk
  • For info. the Wild Scotland Covid-19 Guidelines for the sector will be updated next week (along with Sail Scotland Guidelines for marine).

Victoria Brooks

Wild Scotland

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