Anyone planning travel in the next few weeks are advised that both outward and return travel might be disrupted, depending on continued spread of virus. It is vital that you check the extent of your travel insurance cover, particularly with regard to falling sick overseas, repatriation and cancellation provisions.
For the latest travel advice got to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Loganair have announced that they will be operating reduced flights on an emergency timetable. Their information page is available here: https://www.loganair.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-covid-19
Northlink ferry services are continuing as usual, but with some extra precautions: https://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/
Serious concerns were being raised last week at growing numbers of people travelling to the islands and remoter parts of the Highlands in order to ‘self isolate’. Clearly, this posed risks of potential serious extra pressure being put on already stretched essential services.
Overnight, the Scottish Government has taken action, advising ferry companies, who have already suspended bookings, to no longer take non-essential travellers.
Those who do not normally live on the islands and have travelled there in the last few days will be able to leave to reduce pressure, but from now on ferries will only take islanders who have an essential need to travel and for essential supplies or business - nothing else.
Northlink passenger and freight services are continuing, but on an adapted basis. More information can be found here: https://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/ Pentland Ferries have also updated information for customers here: https://www.pentlandferries.co.uk/
Orkney Ferries are restricting travel to the isles to residents and essential travel only with immediate effect. Inbound travel to the Orkney Mainland will be permitted to facilitate non-residents to return home. Outbound travellers may be asked to provide proof of residence and essential travel will need to be substantiated. More information can be found via their website: http://www.orkneyferries.co.uk/
In terms of air travel, there is no change at this stage to the policy adopted by Loganair, which has already significantly cut back on the timetable it is operating. The airline has confirmed that if Ministers advise further restrictions on who can travel, Loganair will fully comply.
Scottish Government guidance has said that no public events of more than 500 people should take place. Those requiring police or ambulance and emergency services support will be cancelled.
A number of local organisers of community summer fairs have been in touch to ask about planning. It is estimated that we will reach the peak of the virus in late May or June. It is unlikely that the event restrictions will be lifted until long after this, so you should plan on this basis.