Keep Islands Closed to Visitors

Thankfully the Outer Hebrides and Orkney, and to a lesser extent, Shetland, have all had low infection rates and very few, if any, deaths. A key part of this has undoubtedly been closing ferry and plane routes to all but essential journeys. The Scottish and UK governments have both mentioned relaxing the lockdown in island regions as part of their TTIS strategy. I ask the Scottish Government to keep island borders effectively closed in order to maintain the low risk of infection.

Why the contribution is important

Many islands have very limited health care facilities that would be easily overwhelmed so it is imperative that if social distancing is relaxed it is only internally within islands. Many islanders are fearful that any relaxing of the lockdown could see hoards of tourists arrive in the good weather and unknowingly spread the virus. Secondly, the island regions of Scotland have some of the most elderly populations - with many younger people acting as carers. The virus could spread particularly rapidly here due younger people all shopping for older folk as there is no supermarket deliveries on small islands.

by Eilean on May 06, 2020 at 03:09PM

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Average rating: 2.1
Based on: 6 votes

Comments

  • Posted by Bec May 09, 2020 at 13:52

    If islanders are happy that their movement off island would also be restricted then I think it should be up to them to decide. Restricting movement would only work if it's in both directions. I'd be genuinely surprised if the majority of islanders would welcome the reality of zero visitors, including family, or tourists long term...
  • Posted by FaceTheWest May 09, 2020 at 16:45

    It is absolutely critical that island populations are kept in step with the rest of the population and that (outwith possible ‘hotspots’) geography is not a deciding factor in leaving lockdown or any subsequent phases. Special consideration *should* be given to helping with additional challenges of subsequent phases - including isolating, older populations, tourism sector support, bolstering local healthcare & covid response, supporting young people.
  • Posted by AlJones May 09, 2020 at 19:35

    Most islands are a place where social distancing can easily be achieved by locals and visitors. They are also a place where people can restore their well-being after the trauma of lockdown and a minimal risk to the island residents. Evidence-based medical advice still has hand washing and maintaining a distance as the key protection methods to reduce spread. It wasn’t even given a chance to slow the curve before lockdown was imposed. When restrictions are lifted a lot of islanders will travel to the mainland. We are separated by sea but we are integrated with the rest of our country. Visitors may already have been exposed and developed immunity. It is the islanders I’d be concerned about. Holiday makers can enjoy empty beaches and be careful in shops/restaurants. Islanders will visit the mainland, return to work, and drink at the bar with their mates, or go round their houses. Should we all be banned from going to the mainland? Well that can’t happen for smaller islands because we need to use mainland facilities. For many islands, the economy depends on tourism to an extent that will be greater than that of mainland towns and villages. Restricting tourism will be the death knell of the aim for sustainable islands. And for those who object that money is less important than life, it is a fact of life that the two are interlinked. When economies are damaged life is harmed. It might not be put on the death certificate as a contributing factor, but it doesn’t change the reality. We have leading epidemiologists (including some of those who are advising WHO) advising that there is insufficient evidence for the lockdown we currently find ourselves in, and medics reminding us that the first principle is ‘first do no harm’. I would hope that we would not treat the islands differently from the rest of the country based on the same limited data.
  • Posted by DotStewart May 11, 2020 at 21:39

    I live on an island and I don't think this is reasonable, realistic or proportionate.
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