Isle of Lewis

Scotland, United Kingdom

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Plans being made for reopening of Highland leisure sites

Gym
Getty Images

Operators of leisure and sports facilities in the Highlands and Islands have begun preparations for reopening later this year.

Some activities might be permitted under the third phase of lockdown restriction-easing in Scotland.

Western Isles authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said it was in touch with sports clubs about how they might be able to resume. The comhairle said activities would have to be booked in advance, and social distancing measures would have to be adhered to.

High Life Highland, the charity running Highlands leisure facilities, said it was preparing for a phased resumption of activities.

It said numbers of people would have to be restricted and venues would have "thorough cleaning regimes".

Relaxed restrictions sought for Western Isles families

CalMac ferry in the Western Isles
BBC

Western Isles local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, says families should be allowed to travel between islands to visit each other.

Journeys on Caledonian MacBrayne's ferries have been restricted to key workers, the delivery of supplies and essential travel since late March as part of efforts to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

The authority is holding discussions with CalMac and Transport Scotland about an easing of inter-island ferry restrictions for families living in the islands.

Retired teachers could help pupils back to school

Retired teachers could be asked to return to work so class sizes can be reduced in the Western Isles.

Bernard Chisholm, education director at local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said it was an option being considered in preparation for schools reopening on 11 August.

He said school buses would have to carry fewer pupils and there would be social distancing measures on the transport.

Education management at Highland Council, meanwhile, is holding discussions on opening its schools on the same date. Its schools were not due to reopen after the summer holidays to pupils until 18 August.

Salvage operation continues amid lockdown

MV Kaami
MCA
Repairs are being made to the MV Kaami before an attempt is made to re-float it

Salvors have offloaded the last recoverable cargo material from a ship that ran aground on rocks between the isles of Skye and Lewis at the end of March.

The MV Kaami was carrying tonnes of pellets of fuel made from waste.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said weather conditions had delayed salvage work.

Repairs are being made to the cargo ship before an attempt is made to re-float it.

Isles ports closed to non-essential traffic

Western Isles ports have been closed to non-essential vessels, says local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Ports are open to lifeline ferry services, fishing industry and fish farm boats as.well as vessels seeking emergency refuge, supply ships and emergency craft.

First confirmed virus cases in Western Isles

NHS Western Isles says two people in the Western Isles have tested positive for the coronavirus, the first cases since recording for the virus in Scotland began.

The two people are based on the Isle of Lewis.

NHS Western Isles said: "To protect patient confidentiality, we will not be providing any further details of the individuals. NHS Western Isles is now taking steps to identify possible routes of infection."

Virus resources centre set up on Barra

A respiratory assessment and Covid-19 treatment resource centre has been set up in Barra's Castlebay School and Leisure Centre.

The Western Isles is the only NHS area without a confirmed case.

The new centre has been set up as a precautionary measure for Barra and Vatersay due to "limited resources" and distance from hospital care in the Western Isles.

Local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said it was set up at the request of NHS Western Isles.

'Peak summer season' queuing for ferry

Traffic
BBC
Traffic queuing at Stornoway's ferry terminal

Vehicles have been queuing early for CalMac's new 15:00 Stornoway-Ullapool sailing.

CalMac has withdrawn two sailings on the route and delayed two others by an hour due to operational reasons related to the coronavirus.

The queue for Wednesday's 15:00 sailing was described as being like those seen during the peak summer tourism season.

But there were also far less busier scenes in Stornoway in Lewis, including a near-deserted Sandwick Road, the main artery road through the town.

Sandwick Road, Stornoway
BBC
A quiet Sandwick Road