Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed confirmation that more capacity will be made availability on CalMac vessels from 9 August onwards.

Earlier this afternoon, during a virtual sitting of the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that legal requirements around physical distancing will be dropped from Monday. Until now, physical distancing regulations have seen passenger capacity across the CalMac network drop to 35% of normal levels, leading latterly to a huge pressure on ferry tickets.

During the statement to Parliament, the islands MSP highlighted the serious challenges which the cut in capacity has brought to island life. The First Minister acknowledged the situation had been “horrendously difficult” for islanders and confirmed ferry operators will be able to make more passenger capacity available from Monday.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“This news will come as a huge relief to islanders.

“The social distancing requirements for ferries have had severe consequences which I have continued to raise with both the Scottish Government and CalMac. Restricting passenger capacity to around a third of its normal levels at the height of summer has represented an unprecedented constraint on island life. People have found it difficult or impossible to travel to see family, care for sick relatives or just get to work.

“Today’s announcement means that from Monday CalMac vessels should be returning to full, or near full, passenger capacities. While I hope this means that we will soon return to something more like normality, this summer can never be repeated. As well as ensuring we have adequate capacity on island routes all year round, in the future we need the ability to prioritise those travelling for essential reasons.”

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