Tenement Airbnbs will be allowed to reopen from next Wednesday despite concerns from residents that it could lead to the spread of Covid-19 within blocks of flats.
The Scottish Government confirmed plans to allow tenement Airbnbs to reopen and lift the restrictions on those using shared facilities when responding to pleas from campaign groups and an MSP to keep the shut until at least October.
Green MSP, Andy Wightman, had called on the government to extend the ban, having warned that their reopening could cause “fear and anxiety”.
However, a Scottish Government spokesperson confirmed the holiday lets will be allowed to reopen from July 15 along with the rest of the Scottish tourism industry.
They said: “Self-catering accommodation opening before 15 July must be accessible without entering or moving across communal areas, and this is made clear in regulations which came into force on 3 July.
“Flats and tenements only accessible through communal stairs and passages should not be used as holiday accommodation until 15 July.
“As we ease out of lockdown, each change we make depends on us continuing to supress the virus. If the virus starts to spread again, steps we have taken may need to be reversed. We will still undertake formal three week reviews of lockdown restrictions on 9 and 30 July.
“The published guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector makes absolutely clear that businesses must comply and operate within the requirements for safe operating. If this is not happening it should be reported to the local authority.”
Tourism minister Fergus Ewing had labelled concerns “manifestly ill-founded” when they were put to him before the updated guidance banned shared stairwell Airbnbs from reopening.
Commenting before the news the restrictions will be lifted on July 15, Labour’s Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack said the news had come as an “immense relief”.
She said: “This news will come as an immense relief for many Edinburgh residents living in shared stairwells.
“I have been contacted by several constituents who have express unease and worry around the health and safety of those who are vulnerable or shielding, with no clear guidelines on how distancing and hygiene can be maintained in such small spaces.
“I raised residents’ concerns at a meeting with Visit Scotland this week and am pleased that the Scottish Government has seen sense and clarified the restrictions that must remain on short term lets for the time being.
“However, it would have been good to get clarity on this issue earlier. The safety of residents must be factored in before any lifting of restrictions in relation to short term lets in shared stairwells.”
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