Unique and Fragile Islands necessitate individual and careful consideration.

There is a need for sustained support in the form of continued lock down and restrictions throughout Scotland, which is why the First Minister has not followed the Westminster lead at this time to ease those restrictions as yet. This wise decision has proved that we cannot maintain the previously indicated ‘lockstep’ approach for the whole of the UK, as Wales and Northern Ireland have also decided not to follow the Westminster lead at this time. This virus is reproducing at different rates in various regions, as we have seen in other countries that are ahead of us in their varied lock down situations, hence the ‘lockstep’ approach now being abandoned across the UK. There are further considerations to be taken in the ‘where’ and ‘when’ those restrictions can eventually be eased within Scotland. For the very same reasons as the National considerations, a ‘lockstep’ approach is no longer a viable option for Scotland as a whole, as there are many localised issues to be taken into consideration when any easing of restrictions begins to be implemented. As an islander, my main viewpoints concern the ‘where’ and ‘when’ of island communities. There seems to be a misconception around that we are the same as the mainland and have the same NHS facilities as the mainland, but we are extremely different in many ways, the mere existence of the Islands (Scotland) Act is evidence enough of such differences. In direct relation to the current Covid19 situation however, Islands have limited resources, such as hospital beds, ventilators, transfer options to mainland hospitals during lock down, staff members who can be isolated from their family homes to enable them to work directly with potential covid19 patients, and limited accommodations to house them, should the need arise. What we do have that is the same as the mainland is the ability to catch and spread this virus should it reach our shores and with most islands having ageing populations, we need to do all that we can to protect them. Businesses are suffering, as are most families. With lack of income, it is a great fear for our futures that we all have in common at present. However, what use is the economy if we wipe out vulnerable communities by allowing outsiders to travel in before we are secure in the knowledge that it is safe to do so. Lives come before money every day of the week. We have the ability to further isolate our island communities by our natural moat and should therefore harness the protection that it offers us at this time by continuing to limit travel across it, to essential travel only, for as long as is required for our safety and to protect lives. There is a demand for TTI within island communities and it could be beneficial in offering us some additional security when we eventually try to reduce the restrictions within our island first of all. If it can be rolled out locally and be seen to be effective, then we can begin to consider easing travel restrictions across our protective moat. There is a feeling that Test and Trace won’t work on islands as we have limited, or no cases of Covid19, but some islands have had cases. Some island may get future cases, be that first time cases or otherwise. Whichever the case may be, how can we Test and Trace them if we do not have the ability? I feel strongly that those who use Apps in their everyday lives, should be actively encouraged to install the TTI App, as how can we be expected to Test and Trace if we do not have the ability to do so as accurately as possible in the first place? Other technologies can also be used, such as transaction records in shops and take away facilities as a belt and braces approach within rural and remote communities such as islands and we always have good old fashioned word of mouth, so we all need to be aware of where and when we see folks that we know, in case we are asked over the following 14 day period. Testing is expensive and therefore this resource should not be squandered, it should only be used where symptoms are present. The Islands may well feel like they are in little bubbles right now, but within those little bubbles we are not complacent as some may suggest, we are following the rules and guidelines of lock down, as we fear this virus as much as the next man. If and when it is safe to begin bursting these island bubbles, it must be done on and individual island by island basis, as we may all be vulnerable island environments with ageing populations, but we all have individualities and unique requirements that must be considered to ensure the safety and ability to save lives as a priority. We may not be able to stop the virus and prevent it from reaching our shores entirely, but we can learn how to manage it once lock down begins to ease, but that time is not here yet, so we must continue to be patient and keep learning until it is safe to do so.

Why the contribution is important

The Scottish Islands each have unique demographics and geography, with vulnerable ageing populations and must therefore be considered on an individual island by island basis when the time is right and safe for preparations to be put in place for the easing of restrictions surrounding the current lock down, rather than following a nationwide one size fits all exit plan. Our uniqueness could be an advantage to the trialling of test and track technologies.

by NannyNappy on May 11, 2020 at 07:09PM

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  • Posted by IainMacIan May 11, 2020 at 19:41

  • Posted by peggym May 11, 2020 at 20:23

    Agree with general comment. As another islander the travel restrictions are welcome in offering some control over who comes to the island (though inevitably there are some who manage to slip through the checks). The support facilities are limited but adequate for the resident population, extra people could severely test them. The restricted population could be ideal for testing TTI
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