UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Sunday 21 July 2024
 12.2°C   WSW Moderate Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Coronavirus / Transport rules to be eased as part of lockdown exit

Face masks should be worn on public transport

EASING of public transport restrictions will be accompanied by social distancing and the wearing of face masks, Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson said today.

Matheson, who also signalled an easing of restrictions on travelling to take exercise, said that the transport system might operate at 10 to 25 per cent of capacity in order to maintain a two metre social distance among passengers.

His Scottish parliamentary colleague, economy secretary Fiona Hyslop, also announced steps for manufacturing and retail as the first of 14 economic sectors whose route map out of coronavirus lockdown will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Scottish transport minister Michael Matheson. Photo: Transport Scotland

Matheson said that increasing the frequency of journeys would help offset the bottleneck on passenger numbers caused by social distancing.

He said that people using public transport would be “expected” to have face coverings except on ferries and for people with a pre-existing medical conditions.

Transport operators should also supply PPE to workers where a risk is assessed.

Matheson told the Scottish Parliament: “The virus is still a worry as if we move too quickly without diligence it could quickly run out of control again.”

He said the transport measures were intrinsically linked to plans for opening schools and economic recovery to be announced later on today (Tuesday).

Matheson said that there would inevitably be instances where the two metre distance would be infringed, because of the nature of transportation, but the advice was a “proportionate and measured way” to minimise the risks.

Employers, where possible should introduce staggered working hours to help ease transport congestion.

He also reiterated that people should not be making unnecessary journeys and that they should stay within range of their communities when taking exercise.

Matheson said that walking, cycling and wheeling remained the favoured way of travelling to work or for exercise.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


The announced measures are part of “phase one” of the route map out of coronavirus lockdown, he said.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur said that the transport transition plan is a “helpful start” in establishing how public transport will gradually return to normal.

McArthur added: “There is clearly still an absence of the sort of detail that people and businesses will need as they make their own plans over the coming weeks and months. Hopefully, that detail will be forthcoming as we move forward through the phased approach set out by the First Minister last week.

“In terms of our ferry services, the easing of the current restrictions will have to be handled carefully.  It will also have to be done in close collaboration with local authorities and consultation with the island communities directly affected.

“Ferry services remain a lifeline for those who live in island communities such as Orkney.  As decisions about when and how to ease travel restrictions are taken, the safety of passengers, crew and the wider public must continue to be the overriding consideration.”

Hyslop meanwhile told Holyrood that the coronavirus had not just created a public health crisis, but an economic one too.

She said that the Scottish Government was engaging with local authorities to help small tourism businesses who fell outwith the non-domestic rates scheme or were ineligible because of their lack of a business bank account.

“Recovery for some sectors like tourism will be very challenging,” she said.

Scottish economy secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Hyslop called for the public to help these tourism businesses bounce back. “Grant support will help them bridge that period until they reopen,” she added.

Local authorities she said, were better placed to engage with these small businesses in a way that would help avoid fraud.

Guidance for the construction industry – that has been identified as a kick-starter for the Shetland economy – will be published later this week.

The government was also working closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), local authorities and the like to ensure the enforcement of the rules on social distancing in the workplace.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.