Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

Scottish islanders are asking tourists to stay away amid coronavirus – for now

The Outer Hebrides is one of the last places in the UK with no confirmed cases of Covid-19

Residents of the Outer Hebrides do not want people to travel to the remote Scottish islands amid the coronavirus pandemic
Residents of the Outer Hebrides do not want people to travel to the remote Scottish islands amid the coronavirus pandemic

Remote, wind-swept and stunningly beautiful, Scotland’s Outer Hebrides are a string of islands off the north-west coast of the country that rely heavily on tourism.

They’re also one of the few places in the UK where there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19.

That’s why the people that live there are asking travellers not to visit.

On its website, the tourism board for the region says it appreciates why people may be considering travelling to a remote Scottish island at a time like this, but asks them to think twice.

We realise the romance of escaping to the Outer Hebrides in the current climate may be tempting for some, but practicalities and social responsibility have to intervene," it says.

The islands can only be reached by ferry or regional flight. Both modes of transport continue to operate on a reduced service but tourists are being asked not to travel on them. These services are essential to keeping supermarkets and pharmacies across the islands well-stocked.

The UK government has advised citizens against all non-essential travel and locals across the remote Scottish community are urging people not to use the islands as a place to escape the pandemic.

One Twitter user reminded travellers the islands would still be there when the crisis passed.

The tourism board is also optimistic for the future. “We look forward to welcoming you all to our beautiful islands with open arms when we get to the other side," it says.

Angus MacNeil, member of parliament for the Western Isles, also took to social media to urge people not to come on holiday to the islands.

Coronavirus spread

The UK has reported more than 5,000 cases of Covid-19, with more than 370 in Scotland. More than 240 have died from the disease in the UK, with about 90 people recovering.

Only two of Scotland's 14 health boards, Orkney and the Western Isles, have yet to record a case.

Updated: March 22, 2020 08:12 PM

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