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The future prosperity of Arran remained on a knife-edge this week with the island effectively closed for business until the end of June.
Ferry operator CalMac has further extended its essential travel only timetable until at least June 30 and no future bookings will be taken until after this date.
While that will be seen as good news to many it is a further worry to the tourist trade with a quarter of businesses telling a survey this week that they needed 75 per cent of 2019 business to survive.
However in a separate question posed by the Arran Ferry Committee 66 per cent, of the 1,300 residents who responded, supported the retention of ferry restrictions beyond the previous June 15 date – before the CalMac announcement.
So clearly there is an island divide in a community which has always been united and a compromise must be found as soon as possible.
However, it is not all bad news as Arran eases out of lockdown and the plan for an Arran-for-Arran approach begins to take shape. More businesses, takeaway services and shops are reopening, outdoor sports have resumed and the the recycling centre has reopened.
And on the island as a whole the easing of the lockdown restrictions has gone relatively smoothly. Police Scotland did receive a report of a social gathering on Saturday evening in Corrie which was in breach of the new regulations. As a result officers attended and spoke with those present, explained the rules to them and asked them to disperse and return to their homes, which they did.
There were also jet skiers in Brodick Bay and Lamlash Bay which concerned some residents, but while there was no mention of the activity in the easing of restrictions, it is not entirely clear if it is ‘banned’, although, with all the easing of restrictions common sense should be applied, police say.
Arran sergeant Dougie Robertson said: ‘Despite the fine weather over the weekend, the island remained pretty quiet and, apart from these incidents, it appeared that the vast majority once again played their part in complying with the rules set by the government which will hopefully help us all to move forward.’
CalMac says its decision to extend its essential timetables comes as the company continues to work with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to implement future travel and transport guidelines.
‘We will continue to take our lead from the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, while working closely with the communities we serve. When we agree the next phase of our timetable, it will still look very different to our service during normal times, and will remain focused on the priority lifeline services and the changing needs and welfare of island communities,’ said CalMac’s managing director, Robbie Drummond.
The present estimate is that the MV Caledonian Isles could operate with only 170-180 passengers per journey when the timetable regulations are relaxed.