Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday [26 May] raised in Holyrood the issue of travel restrictions to and from the Western Isles.

The islands MSP, attending remotely from his home in Lewis, asked how the travel restrictions to the Western Isles fit in with the publication of the Scottish Government’s route map for moving out of lockdown route last week.

Ferry operator CalMac has been operating a reduced essential lifeline timetable since 27 March which is set to continue until 14 June. Travel to the islands has been restricted to essential journeys only since 22 March with only residents or key workers being able to travel.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“The travel restrictions on ferries to and from the Western Isles have played, and continue to play, an important part in containing the spread of the virus in the islands.

“As we chart a route out of lockdown, it is important that any changes to the restrictions are handled with extreme care and done with the broad consent of communities here. I was pleased to receive an assurance that, before any changes are made, there will be engagement with the island authorities to look at these issues and to ensure that any changes are introduced appropriately.

“The need for physical distancing on ferries will reduce capacity on the network to around 18% of normal levels. This will have a serious impact on who is able to travel and means that access to the islands will have to be carefully managed for some time.”

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