From today’s statement by the First Minister, the excerpt relating to island lockdown easing timetable:
“Let me say a word now about our island communities.
Several of our islands – including Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles – are already in level 3. That partly reflects the fact that they have had lower rates of Covid than the mainland, although there have been outbreaks that again show the need for caution even in our more remote communities and on our islands.
I set out previously that we would consult with island communities about whether, from 26 April, they wanted to move down to level 2 – which the data would justify – even though that would necessitate keeping travel restrictions to and from the mainland in place to avoid the risk of cases being imported to and spreading within the islands;
Or, alternatively, whether they preferred to stay at level 3 with the rest of the country for a further 3 weeks to enable the lifting of travel restrictions and the opening of tourism and hospitality to visitors.
It is fair to say there is no universal opinion here – so I know neither option will please everyone.
However, based on the balance of opinion, we have decided on the latter option – aligning islands with the rest of the country for a period so that travel, and therefore parts of the economy that so many islanders rely on, can operate more normally from 26 April.
To those who would have preferred to see the islands move to level 2 at the end of April, let me reassure you that we do expect at least a move to level 2 to happen three weeks later on 17 May. So this is not long in the context of what we have been dealing with over the past year, where every day feels like an eternity, but it’s not an unending period of time.
In the meantime, as a result of staying in level 3 for a bit longer, it will be possible for islanders and visitors to travel to and from the islands and I know that will make a difference to individuals and businesses on the islands.
More generally, we currently expect the whole country to move to at least level 2 on 17 May, to level 1 in early June; and to level 0 in later June.”