**UPDATE** – Return to full passenger capacities on August 9th has now been confirmed. CalMac’s press release can be read here. At the same time, the current practice of allowing vehicle passengers to remain in their cars on the MV Coruisk will end. There will also be a small increase in the number of vehicles that the Coruisk can carry, which had been limited whilst these special arrangements were in place.
The Coruisk will continue with her 4-returns-per-day timetable however, until the MCA are satisfied that there has been no recurrence of last month’s issue with the engine control system. So far so good however, and it it hoped that a fifth return sailing will resume soon.
Scottish government are planning to remove all physical distancing requirements across the country on August 9th. This is subject to progress with the vaccination programme, and the prevalence of the virus – but the expectation is that all physical distancing rules will be lifted on August 9th, at the same time as the whole of Scotland moves beyond level 0 of coronavirus restrictions.
For the ferry system, this will mean that all vessels will return to carrying their full passenger capacities. In the case of the MV Isle of Mull, that means increasing back up to 962 passengers, from the current 243. Even in the busiest summer, passenger carryings do not come near the 962 limit. From August 9th therefore, you can be sure that as a foot passenger at least, you will be able to travel on any Craignure-Oban sailing you wish.
For full details about the changes to physical distancing, see here.
The lack of space on the car deck will remain however… We have written and spoken several times with both CalMac senior management and Transport Scotland on this issue. We have made it clear that urgent action is needed to introduce some form of prioritisation for local users. At the moment, travellers who can plan their journeys weeks in advance are getting priority over those who cannot – inevitably it is local users that are prejudiced, and are unable to travel when they want to. That is unfair and unacceptable. It remains to be seen if anything will be done in the short term.
If you need to travel on a particular day for urgent reasons but can’t get a booking, please do make contact with one of the local CalMac offices, who will do their best to help. Remember also that if you have a hospital appointment and need to travel by car but can’t get a space, CalMac will do whatever is necessary to get you to and from your appointment. Contact a local port office if you are in that situation – if they can’t get you a space for your car, they will arrange for a taxi for the mainland portion of the journey.