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By Hugh Boag
Arran has seen the highest number of recorded Covid cases this week since official figures began, putting the island on high alert.
Latest figures show there are 30 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on the island – easily the largest number since Covid-19 first swept across the island in April 2020.
The big rise on Arran mirrors the situation across Scotland with the daily national figures over Christmas the highest totals seen throughout the pandemic, with the warning that cases are likely to increase further.
Around 85 per cent of cases are now the Omicron variant.
However, there was better news. With the new Covid precautions in place, most hospitality venues were going ahead with their pre-planned New Year events this weekend.
But the new restrictions, which came into effect this week, mean it will be table service only with one-metre social distancing and no more than three households allowed in each group. Venues must also collect customer contact details.
As the Banner went to press there were calls for the 10-day isolation rule to be cut in half because staff shortages as a result were affecting both the NHS and the hospitality sectors.
VisitArran executive director Sheila Gilmore in her weekly newsletter said: ‘It’s very distressing and obviously extremely disappointing that our hospitality colleagues are going to be further impacted at a time of year when they would normally be very busy.
‘A year ago, we all thought this would be behind us, we now know better.’
The Scottish government have pledged financial support to affected businesses, but there is concern this may not be enough to cover the extent of losses incurred at one of the busiest times of the year.
One venue forced into restrictions as a result of the new rules was the Auchrannie Resort in Brodick which closed its doors to non-residents over Christmas and the New Year, but will reopen on Monday January 3.
The resort also limited its residential occupancy levels in order to restrict numbers over the festive period which is usually the busiest time of the year for the organisation, which sees all of its accommodation offerings fully booked over Christmas and Hogmanay.
In a statement the resort said: ‘Auchrannie is fully committed to welcoming the community and visitors to our resort; this is the last thing we wanted to do and we apologise for any disappointment and inconvenience this may cause.
‘However, we must follow the regulations and safeguard public health at this difficult time. All going well we look forward to welcoming everyone back from January 3, 2022.’
The Arran Medical Group, meanwhile, is urging anyone over 18 who still needs a booster jab to call when it reopens next Wednesday. There are various times available between now and mid-January.
There must be an eight week gap between first and second doses and three months between second and booster. Call 01770 600516 from January 5.