Furious tourism minister echoes Highland MSP call to visitors not to use region to escape coronavirus; Inverness and Nairn representative Fergus Ewing intervention follows 'stay away' comments by Kate Forbes
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RURAL economy and tourism secretary Fergus Ewing is urging people to stop travelling to the Highlands and Islands in a bid to avoid the coronavirus.
People with second homes and campervans have been reportedly travelling to the area in recent days.
Inverness and Nairn MSP, Mr Ewing said: “I am furious at the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of some people travelling to the Highland and Islands. This has to stop now. Let me be crystal clear, people should not be travelling to rural and island communities full stop. They are endangering lives. Do not travel.
“Panic buying will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of rural shops and potentially puts unwanted pressure on NHS services in our rural communities.
“The Scottish Government’s advice is that essential travel only should be undertaken. We have been in touch with CalMac and industry leaders to discuss what further measures may be required to deal with this issue.”
Yesterday, Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch tweeted: "If you live elsewhere, please don’t use the Highlands as your means of self-isolation.
"People live here who are trying to follow government guidance and the continuing flow of campervans and other traffic who appear to be escaping the cities is not helping."
Councillor Ken Gowans, for Inverness South, added his support to Ms Forbes's call.
"The Highlands is NOT the place to self-isolate," he tweeted.
"We have remote and rural communities and remote and rural services.
"Your safest place is at home – seriously. Do not add to the burden of our amazing staff @HighlandCouncil, @scotgov.
"We cannot guarantee a traditional Highland welcome."
Today the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Highlands rose to eight, up from six yesterday.