MEASURES to safeguard Scotland’s rural communities have been introduced in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced over the weekend that ferries will no longer take visitors to the islands.
Only locals and those travelling to and from the mainland for essential supplies or business will be permitted on ferry routes.
The Scottish government also said hotels and self-catering accommodation should not be accepting visitors, and all available accommodation should be for staff and to support essential services.
There has been a surge of visitors to the Highlands and islands in the past few days, many of them in camper vans and some in coach parties, as people seek isolation from the coronavirus, or Covid-19, outbreak.
It is feared they could not only help spread the disease but also put pressure on the NHS, and add to strained retail resources.
Sturgeon said: ‘It may well be an understandable human instinct to think we can outrun a virus but the fact is we can’t.
‘What we do is risk taking it to the places we go and in our remote a little communities that means extra pressure on essential services and on health services that are already more distant from people.
‘So I can confirm that as of now we have advised our ferry companies, who have already suspended bookings, to no longer take non-essential travellers.
‘Those who do not normally live in the islands and have travelled there in the last few days will be able to leave to reduce pressure, but from now on ferries will be for those who live on our islands, who have an essential need to travel to or from the mainland, and for essential supplies or business, nothing else.’
The disease has so far infected over 416 people in Scotland to date, with 10 fatalities.