Islands - a collective or individuals?

In the next stages of COVID-19 response decision making, islands must either be treated the same as the mainland, or handled on an island by island basis. No two islands are the same, particularly not in terms of how they have been affected by Covid-19. As always, there is a concern that the island authorities (Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland) have a very loud voice through their representatives, but they do not (and cannot) speak for all islands, and what works for one will not work for all. The Inner Hebrides are all different too. Some have had COVID. Some haven’t. Some get overrun with tourism and may feel they cannot socially distance. Others don’t get overrun with tourists and can socially distance without much effort at all. Our economies are different too. Those with more infrastructure may find it easier to sustain their island through an absence of tourism. Others may not.

Why the contribution is important

The Islands (Scotland) Bill is intended to treat islands as individuals and to work towards better island sustainability. Failure to respond to COVID-19 in an island-specific way could be very damaging to the sustainability of the islands that have a quieter voice.

by AlJones on May 09, 2020 at 08:01PM

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Average rating: 3.8
Based on: 15 votes

Comments

  • Posted by Opportunity May 09, 2020 at 20:44

    Fully agree, island by island decisions must be made. Not decisions of a one-size-fits-all type for all islands and not even for island groups should be made, for example does not each island within Shetland, Orkney etc. have an identical situation. I live on one of the remote and luckily not via a bridge linked islands. If all outside links (supply deliveries, essential travel such as to/from hospital) could be strictly monitored and one could trust that self-isolation follows any return from main island or beyond, then there might be room for careful lifting of some restrictions, but only on an idividual basis.
  • Posted by HelMull2020 May 09, 2020 at 23:43

    I agree that all islands cannot be treated as one, or the same as the mainland. I'm on Mull, no capacity for a huge outbreak, no idea how social distancing would work on the ferries - how do all passengers get out of cars and go up stairs to decks in a distanced fashion??? Our Co Op is amazing but Qs just now for locals are long, and not everything you want is available, how can they cope with an influx of tourists? If pubs and restaurants can't open where will tourists eat? How will out tiny hospital, with no ventilators here or Oban cope? We can't helicopter off everyone who might get ill. The islands are vulnerable and also at risk of an influx of folk thinking it's a great place to run away to! No, it's not! We are not prepared, willing or able!
  • Posted by JulieColl May 10, 2020 at 09:03

    Totally agree.
  • Posted by jennyw May 10, 2020 at 09:22

    Totally agree but also feel that second home owners should be treated the same as residents. They have every right to utilise their properties, check and maintain. They pay utilities and council tax and contribute to the local economy. Their insurance may be void for otherwise.
  • Posted by MikeJohnston May 10, 2020 at 10:25

    Agree with Jennyw.
  • Posted by Islander64 May 10, 2020 at 10:26

    Agree that the re-opening of Islands should be done individually. The island where I live, Cumbrae, has one town with a resident population of 1200....in summer months that can go up to 9000 and in runs of good weather the ferries can’t cope with the volume of day-trippers. We have no supermarkets...only three grocer shops. The local shops have been superb, working flat out to meet the needs of the population and organising free deliveries to our vulnerable people..however there are always shortages of some things. The opening of the island to tourists could only be done in the last phase of lifting the lockdown. Everything else would have to be open first otherwise we couldn’t cope..it’s as simple as that.
  • Posted by SU7seat May 11, 2020 at 14:18

    Islands should be addressed individually in alignment with the overall government direction and the needs of their overall population - whether it is large or smaller, younger or older. Each of the islands know who their neighbors and families which are living there and this is where the decision should lie. Each island my have a different answer to their overall readiness to manage opening up. Considerations for medical assistance, level of high risk persons and overall resources to support accommodation, transportation and maintenance can only be answered locally. We shouldn’t push to fit every island into one mold.
  • Posted by NannyNappy May 11, 2020 at 16:35

    You open your 'Idea' by stating that 'In the next stages of COVID-19 response decision making, islands must either be treated the same as the mainland, or handled on an island by island basis' Yet your own answer to 'Why the contribution is important' explains exactly why island Must Not be treated the same as the mainland; The Islands (Scotland) Bill is intended to treat islands as individuals and to work towards better island sustainability. Failure to respond to COVID-19 in an island-specific way could be very damaging to the sustainability of the islands that have a quieter voice. The mere fact that there is an Islands (Scotland) Act in the first place is evidence of our differences with the mainland and that must not be lost sight of as we prepare for a future where it is safe to consider easing the restrictions imposed upon us for our safety and to save lives. Islanders must 'Collectively' voice the need for our beloved Islands to be carefully considered 'Individually'.
  • Posted by DotStewart May 11, 2020 at 21:22

    I completely agree that islands have individual characteristics and circumstances and should not be treated as one collective in contrast to mainland Scotland. However I think we should start from the assumption that lockdown restrictions will ease at the same rate across Scotland as a whole. I understand the temptation to 'pull up the drawbridge' but I don't think that is reasonable or realistic.
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