CalMac is to stop taking new bookings on all of its services with a travel date of before 15 July as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

And the serving of fresh hot food will cease on board from tomorrow morning to free up staff to crew our vessels.

Customers will not be able to book any service in advance for sailings due to take place up to 15 July. This is to reflect the four-month period advised by Scottish Government as being the initial period of COVID-19 disruption.

Bookings that have already been made up to that period will be honoured where services are running. Priority will continue to be given to emergency services and medical emergencies.

Catering services on board will also be reduced to offer tea, coffee and pre-packaged foods, such as sandwiches only. Bottled and packaged drinks and snacks will also continue to be offered.

Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac said: “The COVID-19 outbreak is creating an ever-changing landscape not just for CalMac but for all transport operators and indeed all businesses.

'Whilst we are currently able to continue operating our normal timetabled service we have to plan for the impact of the virus on our staff on vessels, ports and support services. It has been prudent, therefore, to put in place an immediate stop on customers being able to book services in advance.

“We will effectively be operating a turn up and go service on all of our routes. This will reflect arrangements we already have in place permanently in a number of locations across the network, such as Wemyss Bay and Rothesay.

'We also know how popular our food service is on board some of our routes, but we need to free up as many staff as possible to help with cleaning and other on-board duties. We are seeing a drop in the amount of food purchased at this time in any case, so this decision makes sense.

'As the situation is changing on a daily basis, we will keep this situation under constant review.'