MSP says islanders a priority when ferry access rules are relaxed

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Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has raised the issue of access to ferry services for islanders at First Minister’s Questions.

Since March 22, ferry travel has not been permitted unless the traveller can demonstrate they have an essential reason for travelling or are a key worker.

People will be able to travel beyond their local area in Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Routemap out of lockdown, and a provisional date of July 15 has been given for tourism to resume.

Social distancing measures will constrain ferry capacity and there are concerns that islanders may find it difficult to access ferry tickets at the point that travel is permitted again.

Mr Allan commented: ‘This was a useful opportunity to raise an issue that I know has been causing a lot of my constituents concern.

‘Islanders have not seen their families and friends on the mainland since March. They have understood the health reasons for this and have strongly supported the restrictions.

‘The lockdown has been necessary, but it has also brought great strains to people’s personal lives. It is important that, at whatever point it is considered safe to change the present travel advice about ferries, islanders have some kind of opportunity to book what will likely be a limited supply of ferry tickets, perhaps on some priority basis.

‘The overriding priority when it comes to this issue has to be ensuring that the reintroduction of ferry travel is safe, and I am grateful for the First Minister’s recognition of the need to manage the situation in such a way that ensures islanders are not disadvantaged.’