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By Hugh Boag
There is growing concern on Arran over the spread of the coronavirus after several businesses were forced to close or take alternative measures after Covid-19 scares.
The team at Auchrannie in Brodick has taken the hard decision to close their two hotels – the main hotel and the spa – in the short term until next Friday (July 16) at the earliest, but their lodges and retreats remain open.
This is due to two back of house staff contracting the virus and other associated members of staff self isolating as a result. Given they have 100 staff in shared accommodation, the difficulties are clear.
The Lagg Distillery has also closed to visitors for the next week and several cafes have closed or moved to takeaway only.
In a statement, VisitArran chief executive Sheila Gilmore said: ‘I heard from another three businesses today, about concerns regarding their own staffing situation for the same reasons. These businesses are not closing but have adapted their working methods as necessary. Every business is being responsible and taking account of their remaining staff, visitors and, of course, the community, when making these difficult actions. Our understanding and support is with Auchrannie and every other business faced with similar situations and we hope this is a short-term measure.
‘Whilst we appreciate our island-based health colleagues are doing their very best to keep up with the procedures, we have contacted NHS and our MSP regarding the 30 minute testing we had been promised last year, which didn’t materialise. Also, implementation of walk-in testing on Arran and the potential for bringing forward the current second Covid vaccinations due on July 31. At present it seems none of this is possible.’
In better news, the entire adult population on Arran will have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the month.
Saturday July 31 is D-Day when the last two cohorts receive their second jab giving all those over 18, of the estimated 4,537 island adult population, protection from the pandemic.
Already more than 90 per cent of the adult population on Arran, who want it, have had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and the take-up among the younger generation has been solid.
The figures put Arran at the top of the league when it comes to roll-out of the vaccination programme, which is just over 60 per cent for Scotland as a whole.
However, the recent outbreak of cases on the island, reported in last week’s Banner, shows there is no room for complacency.
NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Test and Protect team last week confirmed a contact tracing exercise has been carried out on Arran, following a small number of confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) infection.
Added to that, Ayrshire and Arran has been named among the top Covid hotspots in Europe by the World Health Organisation with 321 cases per 100,000 population.
The government’s plan is for Scotland to move to level zero on July 19, with remaining legal restrictions removed from August 9.
Lynne McNiven, director of public health at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: ‘The local vaccination programme continues to invite island residents forward for their Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine offers the best level of protection against the virus and we encourage everyone to take the opportunity when it’s their turn. Since the beginning of the vaccination programme, 4,102 island residents have had at least one dose of vaccine and 3,218 have had both doses. A further second dose clinic is scheduled to take place at the end of the month.
‘Regardless of your vaccination status, people living in Ayrshire and Arran are reminded to follow the current guidelines and FACTS to help stop the spread of coronavirus in our communities.’