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Fishing to begin in Scotland after May 28

Anglers throughout Scotland today breathed a sigh of relief and anticipation as Scotland’s First Minister announced details of the first phase of easing of Scotland’s lockdown, confirming that fishing will be one of the first sports to re-open, along with golf, tennis and bowls. Even so, Nicola Sturgeon warned that the Phase 1 measures were not yet in place, and would only be implemented if the virus continued to be suppressed. 

The re-opening date was not made official, but it is likely to be a date after May 28. "For the moment - until 28 May - I must stress that our key public health guidance remains unchanged”, she stated.

However, the First Minister did add, “I hope that [the measures] will bring some improvement to people’s wellbeing and quality of life, start to get our economy moving again and start to steer us safely towards a new normality." Initially, for these different recreations, people will be able to travel, but preferably by walking or cycling, although they will be asked to remain "where possible" within, or close to, their local area.

Scotland’s R (infection rate) number is below one, and has been for three weeks, and the first phase of lifting lockdown will allow different households to see each other in "small groups" and only in "outdoor spaces”, plus outdoor retail outlets, such as garden centres, will also be allowed to re-open, and outdoor work, such as agriculture and forestry will recommence.”However non-essential indoor shops, and indoor cafes, restaurants and pubs must remain closed in this first phase," the First Minster added. Further phases of easing would be introduced if the virus continued to be suppressed and controlled.

Charlie Whelan, of the fishing arm of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, said: “This is a welcome announcement by Nicola Sturgeon. Many anglers have been looking on enviously at images of people on the banks in England and Wales and, although the spring season has been lost and some may feel they could have returned sooner, the fishing community has been wholly respectful of the virus, the government’s advice and the wellbeing of local communities.

“Fisheries should now take the time to ensure local angling can be participated in safely on their waters. Many people will benefit from getting back on the banks again, both physically and mentally, and it will help to maintain the interest of young people which is vital for the future of the activity in this country”.

Ness District Salmon Fishery Board river director Chris Conroy said:”The local anglers who have waited patiently can now see the way ahead to picking up rod and line again, and that’s great news… they deserve the opportunity to resume their favourite sport. It’s a pastime which actually lends itself to social distancing.

“We look forward to the day when we can once again welcome visiting anglers to our waters. They inject an important annual contribution into the local economy.”

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