SCOTLAND’S tourism chiefs have made a last-minute plea to ministers not to include local travel restrictions in the circuit breaker measures to be announced this afternoon.

The First Minister ruled out a nationwide travel ban when she spoke at her daily coronavirus briefing yesterday, but did not make the same pledge on local travel in hot spot areas.

Currently, many parts of the central belt, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Lanarkshire, have seen a major spike in cases with a temporary closure of pubs and restaurants expected as early as Friday.

Marc Crothall, chief executive officer of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said hotels and the wider economy depending on tourist activities had been badly hit by the pandemic, with international trade “wiped out” and domestic bookings significantly down on last year.

“We hope people will be able to travel and take up the holiday bookings they have in place,” he told The National.

“Unfortunately there’s not as many as we would like. Some businesses have seen cancellations because of the uncertainty.

“But we hope those who have made firm bookings and want to get away will be able to do so.”

Crothall, whose organisation represents more than 250 trade associations, businesses and destination groups, said he believed further restrictions on top of the 10pm curfew would be announced on pubs and restaurants.

He said: “The October holiday season runs from now right through to the end of the month, if you factor in the English school holidays as well.

“October is a really important month for the tourism industry so any restriction does bring with it business challenges.

“We mustn’t forget the impact it has on our supply chain as well, the producers, the laundry providers – all these businesses are an integral part of the industry.

“We have come from being a very buoyant sector in 2019 to ... at least a third of the sector not being able to restart yet.

“Many of the festivals and events have been decimated while our nighttime economy is closed.”

He added that many of those businesses which had reopened had not made sufficient money to see them through the winter months and would suffer under further restrictions this month.

The First Minister said yesterday the wider harms of lockdown “weigh very heavily” on her, and said she hoped the fact this was being “carefully considered” would reassure businesses.

She will set out new measures in the Scottish Parliament today after further talks with ministers and advisers – but has stressed that “we are not going back to where we were in March”.

She said: “We are not proposing another lockdown at this stage, not even on a temporary basis. We are not going to ask you to stay inside your own homes the way we did in March.

“And while we have been asking people to think carefully about non-essential travel, and while restrictions on travel may sometimes be an option and necessary for hotspot areas, we are not about to impose restrictions on the whole of the country.”

She refused to be drawn on what specific measures are being considered, but said her statement would address whether they would need to be imposed Scotland-wide or locally.