Tourists who test positive for coronavirus while on holiday on Scotland’s islands will be expected to travel home, potentially using special isolation facilities on board ferries to stop the further spread of the virus.
Fergus Ewing MSP said ferry companies in Scotland had been asked to “make arrangements to provide for isolation” if there a passenger has tested positive for Covid-19 and is returning home.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, Mr Ewing added that tourists would be expected to order a test if they developed symptoms while on holiday.
Responding to a question from Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP, Beatrice Wishart, Mr Ewing said: “If a guest who, after the restrictions are lifted, is in a self-catering property and considers that he or she has symptoms, then a test should be capable of being arranged through the local resilience group or GP.
“If the test is positive the individual should proceed to go home. The individual should not stay where he or she is. They should go home, preferably in a private motor vehicle rather than public transport.
“Obviously there will be a need to get the ferry in almost all cases and we have therefore asked the ferry operators to make arrangements to provide for isolation of any such individual so that they can be separated from the other people and passengers on the ferry and indeed the staff.
“That may depend on the size of the ferry because they come in all shapes and sizes. That may be an easy thing to do or it may be a very complicated thing to do, on smaller ferries in particular.
“The general advice is if somebody has the virus and is tested positive for it, they should go home, they should not stay where they are whether it is a self-catered property or after July 15 a hotel or other types of accommodation.”
Mr Ewing added that business operators will be expected to undertake a thorough clean of the whole premises prior to another guest staying.
The tourism minister added in response to a question from Kenneth Gibson MSP that it was “essential” CalMac provided a “practical set of measures” to help support island businesses.
He said: “We really do ned to see a practical set of measures in place to ensure that businesses on Arran are able to operate profitably this season and that applies to the other islands as well, it is absolutely essential CalMac do this
“I do think there is a special case for the islands because of the additional fact that to have a holiday in the islands you need to get the ferry and there are serious constraints there at the moment.”
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