Saturday, 6 June 2020

Where Do We Go From Here?

March 23rd 2020 - a date which will live-on in history.  Today is the seventy-fifth day since the UK went into lockdown (not that I'm counting...). Here's a post I wrote that afternoon...
https://skyecalling.blogspot.com/2020/03/quieter-than-quiet.html

Along with everywhere else, Skye has become a very strange place in that time.  Although nothing physically has changed, there is a very different 'feel'. I sense fear and anger, frustration and worry. The lifeblood of modern Skye is tourism. Accommodation providers had fully booked calendars by March, but the cancellations quickly flooded in, and although now only a trickle - a new cancellation continues to drop into the inbox every couple of days. 

Other than a minor relaxation of some restrictions, Scotland remains largely closed. Locally, only the village shop, bakery, post office and petrol station remain open, albeit with reduced trading hours. A couple of places tried offering take-away food, but there were no takers. There's very few people about, and almost no traffic. We are requested to wear a face covering to enter the shops.

The Scottish government is yet to announce any guidelines, or a date, as to how or when small accommodation providers will be allowed to re-open. Meeting people from different households indoors is currently forbidden, and a 2-metre social distancing rule applies for everyone, unless you live together. Common sense suggests that it will be relatively easy to meet those regulations in a fully detached self-contained self-catering property, but there will understandably be huge issues to face for the owners of guest houses, traditional bed-and-breakfasts and house-shares. 

Further problems are the track-and-trace system, which could unexpectedly require a visitor to self-isolate for 14 days... where do they go? And then there's talk of 'local area lockdowns' should a surge in new virus cases occur in a particular place - so anything open could suddenly be ordered to close... how can any accommodation provider cope with that?

The simple answer would be just to close the calendars, take no future bookings, and 'wait and see'. Government cash handouts - for those who qualify - may have gone a small way to easing the financial pressures for now, but I don't see an end to the present situation. As with any tourism-dependent location - the entire local economy depends on the income generated by the visitors. The people of Skye are quietly suffering. 

It continues to be a scary time.


3 comments:

Floyd said...

Hi Richard and Sue
Should be driving up to Skye today, but having to wait a while longer. Hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel soon. Thinking of you all, stay safe
Floyd and Gwen x

Richard Dorrell said...

Sending love from Skye to you both. R & S xx

Jayne said...

If allowed, I would visit in a heartbeat - given the weather we’ve had the last three months I can say for certain my campervan and I would have ended up on Skye.

That would have meant money to a campsite, to food shops and restaurants (local food - one of the joys of travel!). It would have meant money to the fuel station, money to visit attractions, and always irresistible treats to take home.

But based on the edge of the Lake District our pain is very similar . . . apart from tourism and sheep there’s not much here at the best of times. Take care, I don’t think this is anywhere near over yet. 😔