Travel confusion and mixed messages recovery

A police van was present as always at the ferry terminal on Wednesday.

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Arran has been left in a worrying limbo as it emerges out of lockdown, which could harm future tourism.

There have been mixed messages since the ‘stay at home’ order was lifted last Friday to be replaced by a ‘stay local’ message, which has allowed local people non-essential  travel within North Ayrshire.

And the island is still waiting on official word from the Scottish Government as to when it can reopen to the outside world, despite repeated requests. See page two.

However, that was immediately put in doubt when the Scottish Government announced at the weekend that they ‘strongly recommended’ against leisure day trips to Arran as lockdown eases because of restricted capacities on the ferries.

A statement released at the weekend said: ‘Travel for non-essential reasons on public transport is discouraged as capacity is limited. We therefore strongly recommend against leisure day trips to Arran and Cumbrae at this time.’

There were also claims that residents of North Ayrshire had, after travelling from Ardrossan to Brodick, been refused permission to disembark by Police Scotland, with complains to Arran SNP candidate for Cunninghame North Kenneth Gibson.

Mr Gibson said: ‘I received numerous emails, calls and Facebook messages from folk prevented from visiting Arran after arriving in Brodick.

‘Police Scotland were requested by CalMac to attend on Tuesday and deal with a number of passengers who had boarded the ferry after CalMac reported that a significant number were from outwith North Ayrshire.

‘The feedback I was provided with was the individuals causing concern were predominantly from Glasgow and Lanarkshire. However, residents from mainland North Ayrshire were included in the police action, although they are now permitted to certainly travel to Arran for non-essential purposes.

As a result he contacted the Locality Police Inspector Alison Wilson for the Three Towns, West Kilbride, Arran and North Coast & Cumbraes seeking clarification.

However, it later emerged that the incident involved a group of people travelling together from both North Ayrshire and outwith the area. As not all of them were permitted to travel to Arran, they all chose not to do so.

Inspector Wilson from Police Scotland confirmed to the Banner: ‘There have been no North Ayrshire residents prevented by police from travelling to Arran for non-essential purposes since the stay at home restrictions were lifted on Friday April, 2.

‘The coronavirus regulations have had a significant impact on our lives and I would like to thank the vast majority of people who are sticking to the rules and doing the right thing to avoid the spread of the virus as we move through the easing of restrictions.

‘People should not travel outwith their local authority area, except for essential purposes.

‘Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and encourage compliance, but we will not hesitate to use our enforcement powers as a last resort.’

Meanwhile, hairdressers barbers and other outlets offering click and collect services, including the ArCaS shop, reopened for business this week. The next review date to confirm changes, including the first phase of the reopening of hospitality, will take place on Tuesday April 20.

Passengers, many with backpacks, arrive in Brodick on Wednesday.