Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has echoed the First Minister’s message not to travel to the islands, despite Scotland now moving into phase one of easing lockdown restrictions.
During the daily briefing today (Thursday), Ms Sturgeon outlined initial changes to restrictions in line with the government’s route map out of lockdown guidance but highlighted that “it is still the case that you should not go to our island communities, except for essential reasons.”
Following the statement, Mr McArthur commented:
“Life under lockdown has been incredibly challenging for many people across the country over the last two months. From the inability to spend time with family and friends to the impact on businesses, the effect has been profound and far-reaching. Thanks to those efforts, however, we have seen a downward trend in new cases of infection that has enabled the Scottish Government to begin easing restrictions.
“Despite this initial relaxation of the rules, however, I was pleased to hear the First Minister reiterate that travelling to the islands, other than in exceptional circumstances, is still not possible for now. It is a difficult message, but absolutely the right one at this time.
“We know that many people across the UK, and further afield, look forward to visiting Orkney at this time of year. However, the safety of our community remains paramount and there is still some way to go before we can begin welcoming visitors again.
“The First Minister’s message though is a reminder of the significant economic impact that the shutdown of the tourism sector has on Orkney. The grant support provided by the UK and Scottish governments to mitigate this impact has been welcome, but too many local businesses still find they are falling between the cracks.
“I will continue to work with Ministers to ensure that gaps in support are closed. Meantime, I would urge the public to keep following the advice of the government and hopefully it won’t be long before we can look forward to visitors returning to Orkney”.