Leisure, cultural and library facilities in Orkney will close to the public later this week as part of efforts to help prevent infection by the coronavirus.
All facilities operated by Orkney Islands Council will be closed from 5pm on Friday – as will the Pickaquoy Centre.
These include the Orkney Library in Kirkwall and the Warehouse Buildings in Stromness, Stromness Community Centre and Town Hall, Kirkwall Town Hall and Community Centre, Council-run museums, healthy living centres, Council-operated swimming pools and community facilities at schools.
Community learning and development classes and activities will also be suspended.
Council interim Chief Executive John Mundell said: “We regret having to take the drastic and unprecedented step of closing these popular and well used facilities.
“But it is crucially important that we do everything we can to help protect the public and our staff from contracting Covid-19.
“We hope it will be possible to offer at least some of the services they provide in other ways – online, for example – and we will provide further information about this shortly.”
Pickaquoy Centre Managing Director James Linklater said: “These are extremely challenging times, never before seen in our lifetime.
“It is of paramount importance that we do everything we can to protect our community. We would like to reassure our customers that our ActiveLife and ActiveIslands memberships paid by direct debit will be frozen until ‘normal’ service resumes. Any members who have paid in full will have additional time added to their memberships.”
Consideration is being given to how support can be provided for high performing athletes, so that they can continue training as far as possible.
St Magnus Cathedral will open on a restricted basis, with upper level tours and group visits suspended.
The facilities that will no longer open to the public after Friday are:
Healthy Living Centres, community facilities and swimming pools at:
Orkney Library and Archive will continue to offer on-line services, including BorrowBox e-book and e-audiobook service. Check their website for updates: www.orkneylibrary.org.uk
Following yesterday's announcement on school closures by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Council is awaiting clarification from the Scottish Government on the detail behind this.
Once this is received, advice and guidance will be issued to parents, carers and staff.