Orkney Islands Council is advising that this week’s announcements on the move to Phase One of the Scottish Government’s Route Map out of Lockdown will result in no immediate change to current public transport arrangements.
The First Minister stressed this at her daily briefing on Thursday (May 28) when she stated: “You will be able to travel – preferably by walking or cycling - to a location near your local community for recreation. However, we are asking you, for now, to please stay within, or close to, your own local area. And don’t use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary.”
The first steps out of Lockdown could only involve “careful and cautious” changes, she said.
In Orkney, this means that travel on public bus and inter-island ferry and air services will continue to be for essential reasons only during Phase One, with passenger numbers severely restricted as a result of and in line with social distancing requirements.
Across Scotland it is assessed that social distancing will reduce transport capacity by 75% – 90% and this figure is very much in line with the assessment in Orkney for our ferries and local bus services.
During Phase One, there will be no changes to the current timetables for local bus, ferry and inter-island air services.
For Orkney Ferries, the aim is to help protect residents in the isles from the risk of infection – along with the crews who operate the service – and to ensure that the ferries can continue to run and deliver freight and other essential supplies.
The Scottish Government’s new guidance, published on Tuesday (May 26), will help public transport operators and passengers prepare for the further lifting of lockdown restrictions at a future date.
Detailed information from the Government on the newly announced Public Transport Guidance has been sent to the council. Careful consideration is being given to how this might apply locally when the move to Phase Two begins.
The Guidance does state that people should wear face coverings when using public transport and further information on the Council’s expectations on this will be provided in due course.
The Government has acknowledged that there will be geographic challenges in implementing the Guidance and that there can be no ‘one size fits all’ to the approach taken across Scotland.
The Government’s latest travel advice is available here: https://www.transport.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/transport-transition-plan/advice-on-how-to-travel-safely/