The mobile cinema, Screen Machine, which was due to start a Western Isles tour in South Uist from Thursday 8 October, has postponed its scheduled visit.

An announcement from Regional Screen Scotland’s director, Robert Livingston, today (Wednesday 30 September) broke the news to film-lovers.

Meanwhile, Daliburgh School and Nursery and Lionacleit Secondary are to remain closed for regular attendance until the October break as part of the continued reaction to the Covid-19 cases confirmed in the Uist area.

Robert Livingston said: “In the light of the very rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in South Uist, we have reluctantly decided to postpone our planned tour of the Screen Machine to the Western Isles, which was due to start on 8 October.  Given all the safety measures we have in place, it’s very unlikely that a visit by the Screen Machine would in any way contribute to the spread of the virus.

“Nonetheless, at a time when schools and businesses have been closed as a precaution, and when many people are being asked to self-isolate, it would be unreasonable to ask folk to come together for any kind of social activity.

“Moreover, taking into account the fact that the NHS Highland area has seen a rise in total cases of over 11% in just one week, we have decided not to switch immediately to other, mainland locations, but instead to take a short break until the start of November at the earliest, to allow time for the longer-term picture to become clearer.

“It’s unfortunate that the Highlands and Islands region, which had seen so few cases throughout lockdown, should experience such a dramatic surge just when services like the Screen Machine are able to open up again, and we very much hope that it will be possible to resume service in the near future.”

The Screen Machine only returned to the road on 18 September and is currently heading for Tobermory from Jura. The blockbuster Tenet was on the programme for the expected tour of the islands from next week.

To-date, all those who tested positive live in South Uist. Appropriate contact tracing measures are in place and a significant number of pupils and school staff are currently self-isolating on this basis.

 In response to this, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has confirmed the following arrangements for schools in the Uist area.

  • Daliburgh School and Nursery and Lionacleit Secondary will remain closed for regular attendance until the October break.
  • Iochdar School, Balivanich School and Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath, along with their associated pre-school provisions, will open on Thursday 1st October on a full-time regular basis.

The situation will be reviewed daily and any changes to the above plans will be immediately communicated through the normal Comhairle social media channels and school Groupcall systems.

All schools in the area have been deep-cleaned and risk assessments have been reviewed. IT support provision is being put in place for Daliburgh and Lionacleit in order that pupils can be provided with an online curriculum to access learning from home during the period of closure. The headteachers in Daliburgh and Lionacleit will contact all their parents and pupils to explain local arrangements.