People must stay at home this weekend and not travel to or within the Western Isles unless their journey is necessary, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan.

The islands MSP said no one should be unnecessarily travelling to the islands and other rural areas, and that doing so not only risks spreading Covid-19 but puts an unnecessary burden on local healthcare providers and essential services.

The right of access does continue to apply and exercise remains an important part of physical and mental wellbeing during the current crisis but the Scottish Government have stressed that it must be done responsibly.

During the current emergency, everyone should:

  • Stay local – do not travel in your car to take exercise; please make use of the paths, open spaces and quiet roads in your own local area
  • Maintain your distance – stay at least 2 metres away from other people and avoid busy times on popular paths or places
  • Respect the health and safety of crofters, farmers and others working the land – follow all reasonable requests and signs to avoid particular areas such as farmyards, fields with pregnant or young livestock, and other busy working areas
  • Keep your dog under control – put them on a lead or keep them close at heel and do not let them approach other people or livestock
  • Avoid contact – try to avoid touching surfaces and plan a route that does not require you to open gates
  • The Scottish Outdoor Access Code requires that people walking dogs act responsibly, take notice of any signs, and prevent their dogs from scaring or attacking any livestock.

Crucially, no one should be driving to take their daily exercise. By ensuring that we continue to strictly abide by these measures, we will protect the NHS and save lives.

Alasdair Allan commented: “In normal times, the Easter weekend sees the islands play host to a large number of tourists on their holidays. The coronavirus outbreak means that people now need to stay at home for the foreseeable future.

“Restrictions are in place for plane and ferry travel to the Western Isles. CalMac passenger numbers are down to 5% of their normal levels and more than 60 tourists have been stopped from travelling in the past few weeks alone.

“Exercise remains extremely important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing during the current crisis. However, it is crucial to stay local and follow social distancing guidelines set out by the government. People should not be travelling to have to exercise.

“The best way to beat the pandemic is to stop the spread of the virus - and for this reason, it is essential potential people stay at home, and give our NHS a chance to save lives.”

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