Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and NHS Western Isles would like to thank island businesses for ensuring that physical distancing has been observed.

Their efforts are greatly appreciated and vital in the fight against COVID- 19, they say.

Malcolm Burr, Chief Executive of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “It is vital that we continue to maintain physical distancing as restrictions are loosened. Western Isles businesses have worked hard to ensure that physical distancing has been adhered to, and as we move into the Recovery Phase the continued efforts of businesses are both necessary and much appreciated.“

Gordon Jamieson, NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, said: “Physical distancing has been at the centre of our approach to suppressing the emergence of coronavirus, alongside good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus.

"I acknowledge and commend local retailers and businesses for their immediate and ongoing support. The contribution they have made has been mission critical in protecting each other, our communities, the NHS and in saving lives, and I would like to thank them most sincerely.”

The Comhairle and NHS Western Isles would also like to ask that customers continue to abide by physical distancing rules when shopping and would like to thank the public for ensuring island businesses can function safely.  This followed news that many shops in Scotland will be at liberty to reopen from Monday 29 June as part of a further easing of the country's lockdown rules.  Shops of all sizes will be able to open as long as they have outdoor entrances and exits - which means that indoor shopping centres will remain closed except for essential retailers such as supermarkets and pharmacists.

 First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said retailers should now start to put plans in place to ensure that customers and staff are able to keep the required 2m apart. "Of course, all of us as customers have a role to play. When shops do re-open, I ask everyone to exercise patience, stick to the measures that are in place for your safety, and at all times please respect retail staff who will be asking you to shop in a different way."

Face coverings are to be made compulsory for everyone using public transport.

And people who have previously been told to shield during the lockdown because they are at high risk are now able to meet other people outside for the first time.

The other changes outlined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon include dentists being allowed to reopen for urgent care from Monday, while professional sport will be allowed to resume behind closed doors and places of worship will reopen for individual prayer.  Many indoor workplaces such as factories, laboratories and warehouses will also start to reopen from 29 June, subject to strict physical distancing and hygiene rules.  And outdoor outdoor markets, playgrounds and sports facilities will reopen on the same day, along with attractions such as zoos - although visitors should still not travel more than five miles from their homes and tickets should be bought in advance.