Expect ferry disruption if you don’t wear a face mask

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Sub-heading: Less than half of passengers complying with rules

Passengers on CalMac ferries are being told to wear a face mask or face continued travel disruption.

Arran residents and visitors faced further cancellations this week when the MV Isle of Arran was forced out of service after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19 and their colleagues had to self isolate. The ferry required a specialist deep clean before returning to service, initially only for commercial traffic.

That put extra pressure on the MV Caledonian Isles on the main Ardrossan to Brodick route with the island still busy with visitors. It followed two earlier incidents when the MV Caledonian Isles was out of service due to the same reason.

As cases of  Covid continue to rise in Scotland, CalMac passengers are being told they must stick to the rules and play their part in stopping the spread of the virus.

Passenger compliance with this law on board ferries has now dropped to less than 50 per cent, despite the efforts of CalMac staff. Scottish government rules state that on public transport people must, by law, wear a face covering, unless exempt.

As well as Arran, services to and from Mull have also been affected, while port staff from Kennacraig and Mull had to be drafted into Oban to cover for absent staff. When a staff member tests positive, close contacts also must be withdrawn from service until a negative test is returned. This is in line with government rules on isolation.

Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: ‘Please wear a face covering when travelling with CalMac, either on board or inside one of our port offices, unless exempt. This helps to protect everyone, including other passengers and crew members.

‘Vehicle traffic is heading back towards normal levels and on some routes higher than the records set in 2019, such as on the Oban-Colonsay route. From August 1 to August 27 we carried 163,500 cars, which is only three per cent down on 2019 and 6,400 commercial vehicles which is an increase of four per cent on 2019.

‘The service can be severely disrupted if a crew member tests positive. Sailings are having to be cancelled due to a lack of crew when they require to be tested and time must also be spent having vessels cleaned.

‘Enforcing the law is a matter for the police but please respect CalMac crew and wear a face covering when asked to do so. You will be helping to protect people’s health as well as lifeline ferry services.’