THE FAIR Isle ferry looks set to remain off limits for passengers for some time yet as a result of its layout and size and requirements for social distancing.
The Good Shepherd has only been taking supplies recently as a result of coronavirus restrictions.
A report presented to Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee on Tuesday from infrastructure director John Smith conceded it may be difficult to identify a “Covid-19 safe way” for passengers to return under current guidance.
Smith told councillors “The fundamentals of the boat and the passage do not change…it’s not quite clear how we are going to find a solution to that one.”
He said one of the main issues was access to passenger accommodation, and that people struggling with seasickness may need assistance in poor weather.
South mainland member George Smith said: “I think all that highlights is that we absolutely need a solution to the Good Shepherd.
“We need a replacement vessel.”
Funding for a replacement Good Shepherd was already being sought from the Scottish Government by the council but leader Steven Coutts said its submission has so far been met with “silence”.
The Good Shepherd – which sails from Grutness Pier in the south mainland – can take 12 passengers, with the journey to Fair Isle lasting around two and a half hours.
Its usual timetable is for services on Tuesday and Saturday, based on bookings.
Fair Isle residents are still able to use the plane as an essential travel link, with people asked to wear face coverings.
South mainland member Robbie McGregor, who represents the SNP, said he felt there could be an opportunity amid the downturn in the shipping sector to charter a replacement vessel.
Councillors were also told that contactless payment is now likely to be rolled out on council ferries later this year.
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 400 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.Support Shetland News