Arran gets ready to welcome back visitors but not just yet

New posters going up at the reclad iCentre in Brodick.

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Tourist businesses on Arran are busy getting ready to welcome back visitors to the island … but not just yet.

From today (Friday) ‘stay local’ replaces the ‘stay at home’ rule and more services will be able to open from Monday.

However , the Easter weekend is the traditional start of the summer season on Arran, but not this year as there are still more than three weeks till the island can open for visitors on April 26.

While Arran is now open to anyone in North Ayrshire under the ‘stay local’ rule there had been concerns that the island may have been flooded with visitors this weekend from elsewhere, breaking the Covid rules.

However, light ferry booking on the already restricted service would suggest that this is not likely to happen unless there is a rush of last-minute bookings.

CalMac told the Banner that the ferries from Ardrossan to Brodick over the weekend range from just five per cent booked with the busiest being the 7.3opm tonight, which was 49 per cent booked on Wednesday. Most other sailings are in the mid to low ‘teen’ per cent booked.

Restrictions on non-essential travel across local authority boundaries will remain in place. People must stay within their council area for non-essential shopping and should only travel to another area for essential shopping if there are no practical alternatives. People should also continue to work from home where they can to prevent unnecessary contact that could risk transmission of the virus.

Hairdressers, garden centres, car showrooms and forecourts, homeware stores and non-essential click and collect services will be able to open from Monday, subject to enhanced safety measures including physical distancing, face coverings and pre-booking where appropriate. More college students will be able to return to on-campus learning and 12-17 year-olds will be able to resume outdoor contact sports from this date.

Meanwhile, there have been renewed complaints that second home owners visiting their properties on Arran are not sticking to the letter of the law.

Owners with holiday homes on the island are permitted to visit if it is necessary for performing essential repairs. However some residents believe this is being used as a ‘loophole’ to spend more time on Arran.

However, Arran sergeant Dougie Robertson confirmed they had received a non compliance complaint recently in Brodick but he said that overall the police on Arran had received very few serious complaints during the two lockdowns over the last year.

He said: ‘In the last 12 months we have issued three fines under the Cornavirus Act for Covid travel breaches but most of the other cases have been very minor.’

Sergeant Robertson said that all Covid compliance complaints from the public were dealt with proactively, often with a visit to the house or location by the police.