CalMac have today updated their online travel guidance in line with the announcement of phase two by the First Minister yesterday.
Face Coverings will be mandatory from Monday 22nd for all staff and passengers. There are medical exceptions to this rule, so CalMac staff will not be challenging those without masks, or asking for proof of any kind. So please observe the rules and wear a face covering on the ferry. If you see someone not wearing one, bear in mind they may have a medical reason not to.
Family visits using the ferry are now fully permitted, and without any distance limit. So if you have family members you haven’t seen for a long time just because you live on opposite sides of a ferry link, now is the time to make that journey. Remember you still have to follow all the guidance, but you no longer have any additional family visit restrictions just because you live on an island.
Ferry journeys for recreation remain prohibited. In line with the five mile rule-of-thumb limit on travel for recreation across the country, you may not use a ferry for a recreational trip.
CalMac will no longer require ID or proof before boarding. With most travel except recreation/tourism now permitted (although discouraged), CalMac staff will no longer be ‘policing’ the regulations by asking for evidence. They will inform, but not enforce.
The ’emergency lifeline’ timetable is still in place until June 30th. It is planned to replace that with a busier timetable from July 1st, with five returns / day on the Oban-Craignure route and eleven per day on Lochaline-Fishnish.
The Coruisk is on her way back. CalMac is now aiming to have the Coruisk back on service on or around July 15th, which is an improvement on previous expectations. This will coincide with the anticipated date for the commencement of phase three and the resumption of tourist / recreational travel. She has special permission from the MCA for passengers to remain in their cars for the crossing – this will enable more people to be carried, and also reduce the need for people to mix on-board.
CalMac are looking at how they can increase passenger capacity on the MV Isle of Mull, by selling tickets for outside deck space on a turn-up-and-go basis. Special outside deck tickets are not yet confirmed, but it could add significant capacity and enable ad-hoc travel even if the inside space is fully booked. Fingers crossed.
All services will become bookable (once the booking system re-opens), for both foot passengers and vehicles. We have made the case for Lochaline-Fishnish to remain as turn-up-and-go, but the plan remains to make it bookable, along with all other services.
Things we don’t yet know… The government are undertaking a scientific review of the 2 metre social distancing rule, and this may result in changes that allow CalMac to increase their passenger limits. The outcome of that should be known within 2 weeks.
When tourism re-starts as currently planned for July 15th, government may need to make decisions about prioritising travel to the islands. If passenger limits remain very low and tourist demand is likely to exceed capacity, it may be necessary to exclude some types of tourist traveller. Your survey responses clearly indicated that coach parties, day trippers and campervans should be the lowest priority in these circumstances. Scottish Government will have to decide on this closer to the time.
Finally – Here is the government guidance concerning ferry use:
Ferry travel and rural areas
Non-essential travel to and from the islands continues to be discouraged to prevent spreading the virus to more remote communities.
In line with the guidance that people should not travel more than 5 miles for leisure or recreation, travel to the islands for those reasons is not encouraged.
Travelling to and from islands to visit family would be acceptable within this guidance, but individuals should consider whether they can do so while acting in line with all other guidance.
Ferry capacity will be increased throughout this phase, but capacity will remain limited.