Uist is effectively entering voluntary lockdown after news yesterday (Sunday 27 September) of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in South Uist.
Businesses across North and South Uist, Benbecula and other islands reacted swiftly and the islands are today (Monday) seeing flash closures and restrictions to services as companies do their best to limit the spread of the virus through small communities.
Among businesses which have announced temporary closure from this morning are the Claddach Kirkibost centre in North Uist and the Kilbride café on the shores of the Sound of Barra, Am Politician in Eriskay and Salar Smokehouse at Loch Carnan.
Taigh Chearsbhagh arts centre and museum in North Uist was also closing from today, with a review due on Wednesday. The Post Office remained open, today only, until 1pm, as an essential service.
In a statement this morning they said: “Please only use this service if absolutely necessary. We will review the situation on Wednesday afternoon and make a decision about potentially reopening the post office only, later this week, on a limited schedule.”
Isle Drive Uist has cancelled driving lessons and will review the situation at the end of the week. Creagorry motors are asking customers to use their outdoor payment terminal to pay by card when purchasing fuel and not to come into the office.
Close contact businesses such as hair salons and beauty therapists are especially concerned. Among those suspending their service are the Shore Room, Uist Beauty, Margie MacSween and Solas complementary therapies.
Other organisations are changing their arrangements to try and maintain a service during the peak of the current outbreak. Among them, Berneray shop is now offering home deliveries.
N D MacAskill and Son are suspending feed and coal deliveries this week and closing their shed, although they will still make deliveries in emergency by telephone appointment.
There have been calls for restrictions to inter-island travel to prevent the spread of the current outbreak, especially to Barra.
Castlebay and Vatersay Community Council posted on their Facebook page today: “With 14 cases of Covid in the Uists confirmed and more test results pending, more than ever we need to ask is our travel essential, particularly inter-island at this time. Please be proactive and stay safe.”
Pictures show Taigh Chearsabhagh arts centre and the Kilbride Café, both closed from today.