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Loch and awe: Urquhart Castle to reopen to public but with strict limits on group numbers

Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness.
Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness.

Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness is to reopen to the public at the weekend but visiting parties are to be limited to eight people.

According to Historic Environment Scotland, tourists will be able to sight-see at the ruined fortress as well as Edinburgh and Stirling castles from Saturday.

Stirling Castle.

Bookings had been cancelled for 2020, so those wishing to visit will have to book in advance. They will also have wear face coverings inside shops at the attractions.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said tourism destinations were looking at anti-coronavirus guidance in detail, after it was suggested at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing that the limit on group numbers would not be welcomed by coach companies.

Kate Forbes.

Ms Forbes said the Scottish Government would continue to tailor financial support to the tourism sector.

The Finance Secretary said: “The tourism industry is looking at three winters in a row and we will continue to look at how we provide that support.

“We want to enable world-renowned tourism destinations to reopen and we want to give them clarity and certainty. We want to ensure visitors have a positive experience and that will be even more positive if we have the confidence that, when they go, precautions have been taken.

“I know a number of the organisations are looking in careful detail at how they implement the social distancing and how they make sure there is clear guidance for those who are visiting and what will be expected of them.

“What we are finding is that if visitors have the confidence of knowing that people will be following that guidance, they are far more likely to go in the first place. That is good for trade. That is good for our economy and it will ensure that some of these businesses and organisations that have been hard hit can get closer to normal.”

Edinburgh Castle.

A Historic Environment Scotland spokesman said: “We are currently taking group bookings of up to eight people, in line with Scottish Government guidance on group sizes in internal spaces.

“Due to system changes, all existing 2020 bookings were cancelled; however, we advised operators that these can be rebooked either through our Group Sales online channel or by getting in touch with us, assuming they can be accommodated within our new capacity limits.”

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