Arran shows its resilience to latest Covid restrictions

Little Rock cafe owner Chris Parks serves another lunch during what he says has been a hectic week, despite the restrictions.

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Arran remained busy this week despite new restrictions imposed on the hospitality industry last week.

There has been anger Arran has been lumped in with Ayrshire and Arran in having the toughest restrictions imposed in Scotland, with pubs and restaurants being forced to close across the island.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took time at her daily briefing to explain why Arran could not be exempt from the Ayrshire and Arran restrictions. She explained that while it would help the hospitality sector, it would not help stop the spread of cornonavirus, with the island still remaining Covid-19 free since April.

While some hotels have closed, the businesses that remain open, including cafes, B&Bs and self-catering, still reported brisk trade and the shops and food stores have been busy with visitors stocking up with supplies. A number of outlets have also been offering takeaway services, which have proved popular.

One good indicator is always how the popular Auchrannie Resort in Brodick is faring. Co-founder and managing director Linda Johnston told the Banner: ‘I am pleased to report Auchrannie is doing not too badly in the current 16 day restrictions.  As a resort, with the facilities we have, there are more reasons for people to visit us than a regular hotel or B&B and whilst we have suffered cancellations, mainly for serviced accommodation, our resort occupancy remains over 80 per cent, albeit we would have expected to be full at this time of year.

‘Of course, our income is impacted by lower occupancy rates, not being able to welcome chance guests to our restaurants, less tourists using our leisure facilities and not being able to serve alcoholic beverages to our residents – except by room service.

‘Despite this, we have been able to keep our team intact and working and we feel fortunate to be suffering less than most other businesses on Arran. Pubs and restaurants have had to close entirely and whilst cafes are allowed to open, there are less tourists around due to closures and cancellations in the hotel and B&B sector.  The supply chain and the whole economy of Arran is affected by the fact there are less tourists and many businesses closed over the October break.

‘It’s really sad this happened during the final part of Arran’s viable tourist season, particularly as Arran has no Covid-19 cases since April.

‘We soldier on and hope the government puts suitable schemes in place to protect businesses and their team members and help us to to withstand any future shocks the winter brings.’

In his weekly update, Arran clinical lead Dr Greg Hamill said: ‘We are still covid free on Arran and hope that continues a while longer .

‘Cases in Ayrshire are rising steadily, as elsewhere. There was a good period with no one in intensive care and very few positive cases in any Ayrshire hospital but today there are 31 confirmed positive cases plus a number of suspected cases and five people in intensive care. No easy options for the decision makers regards lockdown measures.

‘The message remains the same: keep up the good work that has kept the island free of cases these last few months. Do our best to follow the government guidelines and keep going with social distancing, masks and handwashing. Strictly and immediately self isolate if you or a household member develop symptoms and book a Covid test.

‘The big flu campaign is going well with several hundred vaccinated in the first two weeks. We know there has been a lot of pressure on phone access at the GP practice as a result but this has eased. Get your flu jab if eligible. As usual, so many have stepped up to help out and there are lots of people to thank at the various sites used round the island.

‘Staff, like others, are weary but trying to gather the energy for the winter ahead and remain determined to keep providing the best care they can.

‘Keep going and suppor each other. It would be abnormal not to feel tired and truly fed up with all this,’ Dr Hamill added.


Little Rock cafe owner Chris Parks serves another lunch during what he says has been a hectic week, despite the restrictions. 01_B42rock01