A LIBDEM MP has labelled a holiday accommodation platform “irresponsible” for continuing to allow people to book trips across Scotland during the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite a stay at home order being in place, Booking.com is still permitting people to reserve accommodation in areas such as the Highlands – even though providers have been advised by the Government not to accept such bookings.

As reported by The National’s sister paper The Herald, the company yesterday had 272 properties available for booking in the Highlands, in addition to 59 in Perthshire and 230 in Edinburgh for two people staying overnight next weekend.

Jamie Stone, MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, has now written to the Prime Minister, requesting he puts pressure on the platform to stop the practice.

Stone told The Herald: "Booking.com are highly irresponsible for taking bookings in the Highlands. While we all pray that the pandemic will come to an end soon, we cannot be sure when this will happen. Sadly it could be many months.

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"It’s very simple - visitors coming to a remote area like the Highlands increase the risk of the virus being spread. That is why I am asking them to stay away and stay at home.

"Access to healthcare is not easy here at the best of times - we simply cannot cope with visitors at this time."

He added: "If we are to beat the virus, then we must accept that we are all in this together and that we must all - regardless of who we are - obey the rules.

"I am writing to the Prime Minister to ask if he will put pressure on booking.com to halt future holidays in the Highlands until we are absolutely sure the pandemic is over. I am determined to keep the pressure up on booking.com and protect my constituents."

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The SNP’s Ian Blackford has already previously called for action to be taken to prevent people from selfishly travelling to areas of Scotland for self-isolation.

He said: "It is astonishing that holiday rental companies continue to advertise and let out properties during this state of emergency. 

"People are being told to stay at home and avoid any unnecessary travel. 

"Those who flout the rules and go on such vacations are putting people's lives at risk - particularly in communities where there are geographical pressures.

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"Booking.com is acting irresponsibly - no one should be putting profits before people's lives."

A spokesperson from Booking.com told the paper: “During this rapidly evolving time, Booking.com is committed to featuring information across its site reiterating to customers that there are currently travel restrictions to consider in many destinations. 

“We have also set up tools to make it easier for accommodations to provide clear information to guests about what national and local measures mean and to indicate any conditions that may apply, including requiring proof of essential travel where relevant. 

“We continue to monitor the current situation closely and the ways in which governments around the world are imposing (and also lifting) travel restrictions, working with our global partners on the information they provide customers while adhering to their own government guidance and any valid customer exceptions to bookings. 

“As the situation evolves, we continue to update the support we provide, with teams working around the clock to help support those impacted.”

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