Uniquely, in Scotland, the Western Isles is moving tomorrow (Wednesday March 24) to Level Three restrictions under the Covid-19 pandemic rules.
This was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon.
This brings the Western Isles off the Level Four stay-at-home lockdown rules back into line with Shetland and Orkney, and a number of smaller Islands.
The First Minister said this change was in recognition of the efforts made in the Western Isles to control the recent outbreaks, which included two in Lewis and an earlier one in Barra.
The change takes effect from 6pm tomorrow (Wednesday March 24).
Comhairle ann Eilean Siar commented: "This will allow more businesses to open up and a further return to a more normal situation in the Islands although many restrictions still apply and it is vital to continue to follow advice and rules. The Comhairle will continue discussions on progress and where we are heading with the Scottish Government and Public Health."
Barra and Vatersay were the first of the Western Isles to enter lockdown January 20 after more than 40 positive test results there. With about 140 people self-isolating at the time, the outbreak affected as much as 16% of the population. Then, at the end of the following week, the whole of the Western Isles went into lockdown after a number of new outbreaks.
Alasdair Allan MSP later welcomed the First Minister’s announcement and following her statement, the Islands MSP asked the First Minister for more information about the issue of travel restrictions between the islands and the mainland. Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“This is really good news and I know many in the islands will welcome the opening up that will accompany it.
“I also raised the matter of what this will mean for travel restrictions between the islands and the mainland and received an assurance that discussions are ongoing between the Scottish Government and the island authorities.
“I will continue to press for more details as we get closer to the further easing due at the end of April, but I hope that others welcome the move to Level 3 as I do.”
Meanwhile there is availability at COVID-19 vaccination clinics this week in Stornoway, Balivanich and Barra for those currently eligible.
Phone lines are open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm.
Those currently eligible include those:
- aged 40 or over (includes those in their 40s, 50s, 60s, etc), or
- classed as an unpaid carer over the age of 16, or
- aged 16-64 with a condition that puts you at risk.
Even if you are young, fit and have no underlying conditions, if you catch COVID-19, it could potentially cause serious illness and/or long-term health effects.
Nationally, COVID-19 is currently affecting those in the 20-39 and 40-59 age groups more than other groups, so it's important that you protect yourself.
If you are aged 40 or over, or an unpaid carer over the age of 16, or 16-64 with a condition that puts you at risk, you are encouraged to contact NHSWI NOW for your COVID vaccine.
Those aged 16-64 at risk are currently eligible for the COVID vaccine.
This is a large group, and includes the majority of people who were eligible for the flu vaccination, and also those with any one of a wide range of other underlying conditions, including those with:
- Learning Disabilities
- Severe Mental Illness (e.g. schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or any mental illness that causes severe functional impairment)
- Coronary Heart Disease
- A history of Venous Thromboembolic Disease
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
- Chronic Liver Disease
- Renal Disease
- Morbid Obesity
- Chronic respiratory disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic neurological disease
- Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen