Public health expert advises holidays in Scotland, but says things could change

A public health expert has urged would-be holidaymakers to focus first on opportunities here in Scotland, though not ruling out trips overseas at some stage.

The Isle of Skye, a popular place for staycations when they were permitted in the summer last year picture: McKinlay Kidd/PA

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, spoke as many European countries tighten restrictions amid rising Covid rates.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Show, she advised caution on international travel, but added things could change.

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"We can go on holiday – but it’s where we can go on holiday.

Professor Linda Bauld urges caution

"Let’s be very cautious about international travel at the moment, although the situation in Europe could change in the coming weeks. I think booking ahead now would not be a good idea, but things might change.

“What we should perhaps be focusing on much more is that we need to revitalise our domestic tourism sector. From the end of April we will be able to go into self-catering, we will be able then later on go with others to a hotel – so we can definitely look ahead and do those thing domestically. For the moment let’s think about supporting our country and the sector that has been so badly hit, but as we look ahead let’s not rule anything out at the moment because things might change or we may even finally see for example air corridors or bridges again. We’re also going to see, I think, certification around vaccination or recent testing.”

Professor Bauld said the current situation in many European countries was “very worrying” and it did look as if they were heading towards a third wave. But she said the UK would not necessarily follow.

“I think we should be very cautious, but we are in a different situation.

“The B117 variant that we very sadly exported to other countries caused us huge problems in December, January and February – most of these countries in Europe are seeing a big surge of that so they’re dealing with that now, later than us.”

Europe was also behind in vaccinations, she said.

"I don’t think it’s inevitable we’re following the same path, but it underlines the fact that if we rush to open – and remember the R number is hovering just under one in Scotland –we need to be very careful, there can be obviously risks associated with that.”

She said she remained optimistic about the path out of lockdown. It was clear the vaccination of over-50s, those with underlying healt condiion and unpaid carers was going ahead and those due their second dose would get it, though there could be delays for people in their 40s.

She hoped the issue over supplies from India and the row with the EU could both be resolved.

“And Moderna, the other vaccine that’s approved for use in the UK will be arriving in April and there’s 17 million doses of that ordered.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the Andrew Marr Show it would be “premature” to book foreign holidays at this stage.

And Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy, on the same programme, said: "We do need to be cautious. I've not booked a foreign holiday for this summer and I won't be doing so because I don't think we're there yet."

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