Fifteen ‘attraction’ car parks across the Highland region will be closed this Easter weekend and until further notice during the COVID-19 lockdown period to discourage people from travelling and to help encourage them to follow national guidance and #stayhomesavelives.
Highland Council is clear that it is not blocking access rights to the countryside and is within its rights to close car parks that the council owns as this will help to discourage travel and save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council urges everyone to stay home save lives and to follow current Government advice on exercising outdoors and to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
The current advice is:
One outing for exercise per day – walk, run or cycle, alone or with members of your household.
Stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.
Keep your distance – try to stay 2m away from other people when out and about and pass quickly but do call a friendly greeting or give a wave.
Avoid contact – take hygiene precautions when you are outside and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors.
Dogs need to be kept on a lead or under close control, do not let them approach others and as always pick up and remove all waste.
In addition, all holiday accommodation should only be available to essential key workers and not tourists.
Tourism and holiday home businesses are asked to abide by the legislation to protect the Highland community and local NHS services.
Highland Council’s Environmental Health Team will respond to any queries with support from Trading Standards colleagues.
Any concerns can be raised with Environmental Health through email at: mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org
Convener of The Highland Council, Cllr Bill Lobban said:
“We all have an important role to play in slowing the spread of Coronavirus and it is good to see people taking this very seriously and adhering to the national guidance.
“We are very fortunate in the Highlands to have wide open spaces and natural beauty, and while it is important to get time outdoors and maintain our physical and mental health, we must ensure we follow the social distancing guidelines and do not put any additional pressure on the NHS at this time.
“While we would normally welcome tourists and visitors to the Highlands (including local Highland day-visitors), I would appeal to you for now to remain at home and stay safe and we will welcome you back in the future when it is safe to do so.
“The beauty spots will still be there when this is all over.”
Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent George Macdonald said:
“Firstly, I would like to thank the vast majority of the public who are adhering to the guidance set out by the Scottish Government so far – the response we have received has been overwhelmingly positive and, in the face of such challenging circumstances, this has never been needed more.
“We have been given extraordinary powers that Police Scotland would not normally wish to have, however this is an extraordinary situation and one which everybody – collectively – needs to play their part in addressing.
“The legal instructions on not leaving your home without a reasonable excuse apply to everyone and individuals must not make personal exemptions bespoke to their own circumstances.
“With the Easter weekend approaching, I appreciate this will be more frustrating than ever however effective social distancing is essential to protect each other, support key workers, take strain from the NHS and save lives.
“Wherever our officers encounter people outside, we will engage with them if necessary to establish their circumstances, explain the guidance and encourage them to comply with it if they are doing something that is putting others at risk.
“Only as a very last resort will enforcement action be used where people continue to defy the clear advice being given.
“Stay home this Easter weekend, protect the NHS and save lives.”
NHS Highland’s Director of Public Health Dr Ken Oates said:
“As a community we in the Highlands are friendly, welcoming and hospitable to the thousands of visitors we get all year every year.
“However, we are currently in a situation that has never been experienced before and for the first time we are making a plea for you to stay away.
“National advice is quite clear that we, as a nation, need to stay at home, self-isolate and stop all non-essential travel.
“Our health and social care staff are also doing everything in their power to protect our patients and our local communities to ensure we are ready for what the next few weeks could bring.
“I would ask everyone to protect those in your communities who are most vulnerable; by complying with these measures you can help save lives.
“Please stay at home.”
The car parks which will be closed until further notice in Highland are as follows:
Achmelvich, Beach Car Park
Assynt – Inchnadamph Hotel Car Park
Clachtoll Beach Car Park
Duncansby Head Car Park
Dunnet Head Car Park
Dunnet Seadrift Car Park
Dunvegan, Coral Beach Car Park
Durness – Sango Beach Car Park
Durness, Smoo Cave Car Park
Little Gruinard Beach Car Park
Noss Head Car Park, Wick
Quirang Car Park, Skye
Reiss Beach Car Park, Wick
Staffin, Kilt Rock Car Park
Storr Car Park, Skye
This list of car parks will be kept under review, to determine whether particular car parks can be re-opened, or whether further car park closures will be put in place.
For further information, latest coronavirus developments and changes to key Council services click here.