The Leader of Orkney Islands Council is asking the Scottish Government to ease Covid-19 restrictions by moving Orkney to a lower level – with freedom to travel to and from the Scottish Mainland.
This follows the First Minister’s recent announcement that islands currently in level three would have the ‘option’ to drop to level two on 26 April – but with the possibility of current travel restrictions remaining in place.
Councillor James Stockan joined Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government in an online meeting today for further talks on how the First Minister’s announcement may impact on Orkney communities.
Following a meeting with Members of the Council this afternoon he said:
“It is vital for the recovery of our economy – and for the good of our tourism sector in particular – that current travel restrictions in and out of Orkney are lifted as soon as possible. We must not be out of step with the rest of Scotland on this or our economy will continue to suffer greatly.
“At the same time, it is vital for the wellbeing of our community that we can visit family, friends and neighbours in our homes once again. That’s crucial given our community’s magnificent response in observing the rules and keeping Covid-19 transmission to a minimum. There should be praise too for the tourists who travelled to Orkney, when this was allowed for a time last year. They also showed great responsibility and great respect for our community.”
Councillor Stockan added: “I’m asking the Scottish Government to move Orkney to the lowest level possible based on the fact that we have had no cases in our community over many weeks and that the vaccination programme in Orkney is rolling out so effectively.
“But we are stressing there must be no barriers to travel between Orkney and the mainland. Folk will continue to follow the FACTS and act responsibly once again when travelling to Orkney.
“We will continue to engage with the Government on this over the days and weeks ahead. The Government is currently seeking views on this. If you or your organisation has been sent a survey by the Government, I would encourage you to complete this and return it to the Government by Friday 26 March.”