Isle of Barra

Scotland, United Kingdom

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Plans being made for reopening of Highland leisure sites

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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

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.

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.

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.

Seafood firm's Spanish and French markets collapse

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A seafood company in the Western Isles says it has been hit hard by the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Barra Atlantic, which is heavily reliant on exporting its produce to Spain and France, says orders have collapsed.

Managing director Christina MacNeil says the island economy could suffer serious damage.

The company is freezing what it can but Ms MacNeil said: "Once the freezers are full we cannot go any further and we have to stop the boats from going out fishing. Then there will be no work for the processors."