Stay away from beautiful Argyll – you’ll be welcome when this is over

The Rest and be Thankful - one of Argyll's many beauty spots

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As the COVID-19 lockdown continues, reports have been circulating that some people are still defying government-imposed restrictions and coming to Argyll holiday accommodation and second homes.

Residents in villages across Argyll claim visitors from other parts of the UK have been seen in the community – risking the lives and wellbeing of people in the area.

Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: ‘The message is clear, and the law is clear. Non-essential travel is banned and that absolutely includes visiting second or holiday homes as well as any type of rental.

‘I am pleased that Airbnb has finally accepted that they should stop taking any bookings except those from front line staff who need to be closer to their work and stopped hosts from advertising ‘boltholes’.

‘But others should be in no doubt – the police can turn and will turn people back from travelling to any holiday home and if people are there they can be charged with an offence and fined.

‘Please stay away and don’t put a burden on our already stretched resources and services.’

To deter visitors, Argyll and Bute Council has made the decision to close its car parks at Luss, Arrochar (Glenloin 1 and 2) and Duck Bay during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

A council spokesperson said: ‘Our message for visitors is: “please stay away so we can welcome you back soon”.

‘National guidance is clear – only travel if it is essential. We all have a duty to act responsibly and keep each other safe from the threat of COVID-19.

‘We want to welcome visitors back to Argyll and Bute, but once it is safe to travel.’

The message was reiterated by Argyll and Bute’s MP Brendan O’Hara, who said: ‘People should be following the clear public health advice to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel. This includes those who are thinking of having day trips over the Easter weekend as well.

‘Our local communities are deeply worried about an influx of visitors and I have been in touch with the local police about this as well. The message is clear; stay at home, stay safe.’

Chief Superintendent John Paterson, divisional commander for Argyll and West Dunbartonshire meanwhile asked asked people to stay at home over Easter.

He said: ‘We are so grateful to the overwhelming majority of people who are complying with the instruction from government to stay at home.

‘At Easter, I understand that this is particularly difficult as it is normally a time of year when people travel to or around our division to spend time in some of our beautiful locations.

Chief Superintendent Paterson added: ‘Police Scotland will have dedicated patrols in the division throughout the weekend and our officers will engage with people, establish their individual circumstances and explain the risks to public health of failing to comply with guidance.

‘As a last resort, we will use the enforcement powers available to us.’

Under the emergency powers relating to coronavirus, a total of 42 fixed penalty notices were handed out in Argyll and West Dunbartonshire between March 27 and April 9.