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Transport / NorthLink closes bar areas and cinema on board its ships

Photo: NorthLink Ferries

LIFELINE ferry company NorthLink is closing bar and entertainment offers on board its three passenger vessels in a bid to protect travellers and crew from the possibility of being infected by the coronavirus.

Over the weekend several islanders contacted Shetland News questioning why the bar and restaurant on board the vessels stayed open following the strict advice from the UK Government on Friday that pubs, cafes and restaurants should close and not open again on Saturday.

One correspondent said that even during the Sunday night crossing the mid ship bar was doing good trade with several groups of people drinking and ignoring the required social distancing.

Contacted by Shetland News on Monday NorthLink would only say that they were following the rules and would review their service to work within the guidelines.

Stuart Garrett
Serco NorthLink Ferries’ managing director Stuart Garrett.

On Tuesday, following announcement of much tougher rules on people’s movements, managing director Stuart Garrett said the company was making “a significant number of changes made to the on board offering”.

This included the suspension of the cinema, as well as the closure of the shops and the closure of all bar areas.

The car valet service has also been suspended as has the bed and breakfast service on board the Hamnavoe which sails between Stromness and Scrabster.

Garrett said that due to the duration of crossings between Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick, food and drink would continue to be available on board but with a limited menu.

The company is experiencing dramatically reduced passenger numbers due the pandemic and the travel restrictions

“The wellbeing of our passengers and staff is always our top priority and since the outset of COVID-19 we have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure their health and safety,” he said.

“We have followed relevant guidelines and advice from the government and health officials and continue to do so.

“It is for this reason that restrictions have been implemented to allow only necessary travel between the Scottish mainland and Northern Isles and a reduced on board offering.

“Whilst we do continue to provide a lifeline service we would like to remind all passengers to adhere to government guidelines when travelling with us for the safety of themselves, their families and our staff.”

You can read all of today’s local coronavirus news on our live feed below:

Coronavirus latest – Islands prepare for life under ‘lockdown’ as people told to stay home