Minister thanks staff for their efforts during lockdown

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The islands minister is urging ferry travellers to plan ahead as the tourism sector reopens across Scotland.

Restrictions on hotels, attractions and other businesses in the sector are lifted this week, but capacity is still limited across the country’s ferry networks due to physical distancing measures.

Passengers should look to book their tickets ahead of their journey and follow guidance once on board.

Speaking during a visit to Ardrossan harbour to thank CalMac staff for their hard work during lockdown, minister for energy, connectivity and the islands Paul Wheelhouse said: ‘I’d like to thank staff on all of Scotland’s ferry networks for their hard work, and passengers for following the travel guidance, which has allowed us to keep these vital transport links operating throughout the lockdown period.

‘I’m pleased to see both CalMac and NorthLink increase their capacity with the move to one metre physical distancing, but it’s important to remember that capacity challenges will remain as a result of these measures that are required to protect public health.

‘Passengers can continue helping ferry operators by booking ahead and spreading their journeys across the full daily timetable to avoiding peak sailings. As always, there will be busy periods and people may need to be flexible. Please be understanding with ferry staff, who will do their best to help you.

‘By following this advice, we can help support our island economies while also continuing to protect each other from Covid-19.’

CalMac’s director of operations, Robert Morrison said: ‘All our staff have done a fantastic job during this emergency in keeping communities safe while ensuring lifeline services continue to keep island communities and economies running.

‘As we move gradually out of lockdown and our capacity increases, there will be new challenges around insuring tourists can get to where they are going while continuing to keep islands safe. Our staff have a difficult job to do at this time and I would urge the travelling public to be patient and understanding when interacting with them.’