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The impact of the latest changes in Covid-19 restrictions in the Western Isles has attracted criticism.

“So tourists can stay in people's homes say b’n’b or whatever. But we are not. That is just not fair,” said one Facebook comment. 

Another said: “That’s why I won’t be opening my bed and breakfast until the 17th May. If my family and friends can’t come in for a coffee, why would I let strangers stay in my home.”

The decision not to reduce the Covid-19 alert level on the Islands came after pleas from tourist industry leaders to allow travel to restart.  

NHS Western Isles is giving this summary of the new rules on its Facebook Page.

LEVEL 3 : The Western Isles will remain in Level 3, aligning the islands with the rest of the country for a period, so that travel, and therefore parts of the economy, can operate more normally from 26 April.

  • The Scottish Government does expect at least a move to level 2 to happen three weeks later on 17 May.
  • From Friday this week - 16 April - the FM has permitted individuals to travel anywhere within Scotland for the purposes of outdoor socialising, recreation, or informal exercise. This must be outdoors (unlikely to be indoors until around mid-May). However please note that travel restrictions for wider purposes - such as leisure, shopping, or visiting hospitality premises, will remain until 26 April. Restrictions on staying in tourist accommodation will also remain in place until 26 April and staying with others from out with your extended household is not permitted.
  • The FM currently expects the whole country to move to at least level 2 on 17 May, to level 1 in early June; and to level 0 in later June. Later on, in the summer - as the number of people who have been vaccinated increases further - she does hope that a level of normality well beyond level 0 will become possible.
  • There has also been an agreed relaxation in the rules for meeting people outdoors, again from Friday. At the moment, a maximum of four adults from two households are permitted to meet outdoors. From Friday onwards, that will change to a maximum of six adults, from up to six households.
  • The relaxation in some of the rules has only been possible as a result of a fall in the number of cases, the number of hospital admissions and the number of people in ICU, alongside exceptional progress in relation to the vaccination campaign.
  • NHS Western Isles is pleased that our local communities will be able to benefit from these changes, but at the same time must remind everyone of the importance of continuing to follow safety precautions: please remember FACTS (in particular physical distancing, even when meeting others outdoors).
  • Please also remember that whilst tourist accommodation will be permitted to re-open from 26 April, the restrictions on meeting with others indoors (including family members from out with your extended household, or anyone visiting from off-island) currently remain in place.

Meanwhile the latest update from NHSWI Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson says there’s been no new cases of COVID-19 in the Western Isles.

He pointed that there is an important change from Friday, in that 6 people from 6 different households will be able to meet outdoors.

“Please enjoy the relaxation of restrictions but remember to stay safe and continue to keep yourself and our islands safe.”