The popular travelling cinema Screen Machine, a regular visitor at six Western Isles locations, is being prepared for return to service in the near future.

Cinemas are among the venues allowed to reopen from today (Wednesday 15 July) under the Scottish Government’s lockdown easing plan, but the need for careful planning of hygiene and distancing is keeping the Screen Machine off the road a little longer.

The Screen Machine usually calls into Tarbert, Lochmaddy, Carinish, Linaclete, Daliburgh and Castlebay on a rolling programme offering blockbusters, kids’ favourites and special-interest films.

The 80-seat auditorium is funded by Creative Scotland with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and receives further support from Caledonian MacBrayne, with ferries helping the huge road tourer to reach many of its destinations.

Since they suspended operations on 16 March, the operating team have been undertaking annual refurbishment and cleaning, to minimise future downtime once they return to business.

In a statement released yesterday (Tuesday) the screen’s operators asked for the views of the film-going public as they plan their own re-opening road map.

They said: “We have all been looking forwards with confidence, anticipation and excitement to the day we can resume the service. Whilst we can’t yet give you specific dates for the resumption of the tour, or our next visit to your location, we are working hard to put in place all that’s required to help you feel confident in visiting your cinema.

“You can expect the same warm welcome and high levels of service, but some aspects of the service are likely to be different. it is very important to us that you feel confident in returning to the Screen Machine – we want to get it right.

“So we’d like to understand a little bit more about what you think of visiting the Screen Machine. If you have any particular concerns, we’d like to hear about them now, so that we can try to address them before we start touring again.”

A survey has been prepared and is available here: , with just ten questions to help shape future operations. It must be completed by noon on Wednesday 22 July.

The pictures show the Screen Machine at Castlebay and on the ferry from Tarbert to Uig during last summer’s tour.