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Communities in the Western Isles have welcomed the move down to level one of Covid restrictions which came into force on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference last week, the First Minister stated the move was due to the work done in the islands to keep transmission levels low and the extremely successful vaccination rollouts on the islands.
The Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney, along with the Inner Hebrides islands including Islay, Jura and Mull, and all islands in the Highland area – except Skye because of its bridge to the mainland – moved to level one this week.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented: ‘This is very encouraging news for the islands, and hopefully represents a major step towards something much more like normality.
‘Significantly, the First Minister indicated that one reason for the islands coming down on Monday, while the rest of Scotland is at level two, is because the vaccination programme in the islands is making such rapid progress. The NHS locally deserves a great deal of credit for that.
‘We still need to show vigilance. The recent situation in Moray proves that the virus can reappear suddenly in any community. However, people in the islands will be really heartened to see many aspects of visiting friends and travelling normalised and to see the opening up of more of the local economy.’
The changes mean a relaxation on indoor hospitality, in the numbers of people able to meet and almost all businesses able to open.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar also welcomed the announcement but warned significant economic challenges remain.
Leader Roddie Mackay said: ‘We are all delighted that finally there is a significant breakthrough in the restraints we have had to follow.
‘I commend people throughout the Western Isles for their adherence to following the guidance which has enabled us to move to this stage. It is important we continue to do so and that we continue to sign up for the vaccination programme.
‘Make no mistake, this is good news but the challenges we face, particularly across our economy, remain significant and I would call on Government to ensure island economies are supported during what remains a very challenging time.’
A full description of level one can be found on the Scottish Government website.
Photograph: Roddie Mackay head shot in Fort October 2020 dated folder (NO-F42-Roddie-002.jpg)