Creatives treated unfairly

Photographer says ‘no consistency’ in Covid rules

Rich Dyson’s photography workshop is severely restricted

A self-employed workshop owner says the rules forcing some businesses to work within strict social distancing restrictions are still being applied inconsistently.

Edinburgh photographer Rich Dyson said his business is unfairly impacted by the COVID rules put in place at the start of March as they prioritise sport over creative activities.

An outdoor sporting activity can have up to 15 people in attendance, but the same rules do not apply for other outdoor activities, which must work within the four people from two households rule.

It means his course, a popular choice on Trip Advisor, is suffering even though all the face-to-face elements are conducted outdoors with social distancing measures in place.

“It’s ridiculous that 15 people can meet outdoors with a personal trainer, often not social distancing, yet I can’t run a socially distanced workshop outdoors with my maximum group size of four people if they don’t all live in the same household,” he said.

Mr Dyson has been trying to get clarification from the Scottish Government since 9 March when the ruling was announced by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

However, all he has received is standard responses advising that e-mails will be passed to the relevant person. He has received support from Scottish Labour and Conservative candidates standing in the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Labour candidate, Katrina Faccenda, has promised to pursue the situation as she faces similar issues as a tour guide in the city. Conservative candidate and Edinburgh councillor, Callum Laidlaw, agrees that there is an apparent bias to sports rather than cultural activities.

He states: “The council faces the same issue with regard to extracurricular school activities, with sports falling under separate guidance to outdoor classes for other pursuits (like art and photography, for example) and these are not restarting until the return to level 3 on 26 April.”

Mr Dyson added: “It is frustrating that my workshops can help people as they come out of lockdown both from a mental as well as physical health perspective.

“I have taken every care to ensure that my workshops are as safe and welcoming as they can be. I call on the First Minister to consider extending the rule to incorporate cultural activities as well as sporting ones.”

A spokesswoman for the Scottish government pointed to comments made by the First Minister on Tuesday when she said: “If you look across to Europe at the moment, many countries are seeing a big rise in cases.

“We don’t want the same thing to happen here if we can avoid it.

“And in our view the virus is still too widespread, and too dangerous, to allow for a more rapid opening up.

“However if the data permits, we do expect to be able to make further changes later in April.”

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