SCOTLAND’S island communities could be given special treatment from the mainland to allow isolated communities return to some form of normality – with locals pointing to testing on arrival as a potential solution.
Nicola Sturgeon has suggested she is open to investigating whether a “different balance might be struck” for the islands – but has warned this would likely mean that islands are locked down with travel bans.
Currently, Scotland’s islands are under the same hospitality restrictions as the rest of Scotland outside of the central belt, although Arran is included in the curfew being experienced by Glasgow and Edinburgh. Households in the far reaches of Scotland’s islands are not allowed to meet with others in their homes.
But the leader of Orkney Islands Council has called for alternatives to be drawn up – pointing to other islands across the globe testing people on arrival to stop the virus spreading and protecting the crucial tourism economy.
On Jersey, people are tested for coronavirus on arrival and again after five days – while those who have visited certain high-risk countries are asked to quarantine. More than 134,000 tests have taken place on Jersey and only 490 cases have been confirmed, despite the routine testing.
But the Western Isles had been handed a warning in recent weeks following an outbreak on South Uist where dozens were infected including residents of a care home where one person died.
Orkney has had a total of 26 cases and only three since the start of October, the fewest of any other area including Shetland and the Western Isles.
Liberal Democrat MSP for Orkney, Liam McArthur, has warned the First Minister that a ban on household gatherings in other people’s homes are “clearly taking a toll on people’s health as well as on jobs and businesses” on the islands.
He added: “The national clinical director has repeatedly stated that a different approach could be taken in the islands.
“Meanwhile, the First Minister says she…