Visitors to Fife’s picturesque East Neuk have been urged not to drop their guard against Covid-19 as more businesses begin to open their doors this week.
The area is expecting an influx of tourists when lockdown restrictions ease further from Wednesday, with hotels, guest houses and indoor dining establishments permitted to open with safety measures in place.
While many local businesses depend on visitors for their survival, Liberal Democrat councillor Bill Porteous said some residents had expressed anxiety about the risks posed by people arriving from across the UK and abroad.
He said the move to phase three of lockdown was a mixed blessing for the East Neuk, which hit the headlines when Scotland’s medical director Catherine Calderwood was forced to quit after twice breaking lockdown rules to visit her second home in Earlsferry.
“It’s great for business and local people who are employed but we must remember covid is still around us,” he said.
“We are an open and welcoming community and we realise people will want to come here but residents do still have concerns around social distancing and there’s a worry people are dropping their guard.
“I would just urge visitors to be mindful of that.”
Local tourism association Visit East Neuk (VEN) said many businesses had taken steps to help calm nerves and ensure they were ready to open responsibly.
Acting chairman Roger Brown said tourism was vital to the local economy but residents must be assured that an increase in visitors was safe.
“Without our visitors, many businesses which local people as well as visitors depend on would struggle to survive,” he said.
“It is essential therefore that local residents are as assured as they can be that visitors can return to the East Neuk safely.”
Mr Brown urged companies to sign up to Visit Scotland’s new visitor charter to demonstrate they are adhering to public health advice and covid-19 risk assessments have been carried out.
Jen Carmichael-Green, who runs the Spindthrift Guest House in Anstruther with husband Mark, said they had taken a number of steps to ensure safety for guests, including social distancing in the breakfast room, sanitisers and the introduction of individual portions of condiments.
“We can’t wait for Wednesday,” she said.
“It’s a little nerve-racking for us, not because we’re opening but because we lost so many bookings.
“All the Americans and golf groups cancelled at the start of this so rebuilding it will be the next challenge.
“The message that has to be put across is we are all going to make people as comfortable as we can but people also have to feel comfortable about coming.
“If they arrive anxious then there’s little we can do to help them.”