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COVID-19 24th March: Non-Essential Travel on Inter Island Ferry Services

26 March 2020

On Monday 23 March 2020, the Scottish and UK Governments made it clear that only critical travel can be undertaken by the public

Critical travel is defined as:

  • Shopping for basic necessities
  • Access to medical care or medical needs such as pharmacies
  • Travel to take care of vulnerable people
  • Travelling to and from work where work cannot be done from home

In addition to the already reduced timetables, from immediate effect and until further notice, travel on Council ferries will be for those who live on our islands, who have a critical need to travel to or from the mainland and for essential freight, supplies or business. Nothing else.

We must place the responsibility on travellers to have carefully considered their journey and be prepared, if challenged, to prove they are an islander and/ or provide proof of their need to travel.

  • For residents that evidence could be a recent utility bill plus photo ID.
  • For a key worker that is someone who needs access to or from the islands in the course of their business. Further information on the ‘key worker’ definition will be issued by the Council in due course.

Business and freight can continue to use the services, emphasising the responsibility to observe NHS health advice on reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission. On board, passengers in vehicles should remain in their vehicles. Passengers in the saloons should stay two metres apart, observe good hand hygiene, catch coughs and sneezes and avoid touching their face.

In practice, this restriction on travel will mean the following for ferry services:

  • A ban on recreational and social travel; and
  • A ban on non-essential travel to the islands by non-islanders

Given the seriousness of the challenges facing island communities, the Council fully expects passengers to heed the above requirements.

These restrictions are intended to, within a context of the Coronavirus pandemic:

  • Support the established principles of social distancing
  • Reduce the risk of transmission of the virus arising from people travelling between our islands unnecessarily; and
  • Continue to make reasonable endeavors to maintain reliable delivery of ferry services, albeit at a reduced level.

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