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Transport / SIC keen for ferry timetable to go back to normal once safe to do so

The Whalsay ferry Hendra. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THERE are hopes that inter-island ferry timetables will go back to normal once the coronavirus outbreak in Shetland is deemed to be under control by health authorities.

The situation remains under review while cases continue to be recorded, albeit at a reduced number.

The ferries were cut back to a reduced timetable in early January amid a sharp rise in Covid cases in Shetland.

It is understood that several ferry crew members were ordered to isolate through contact tracing, with the decision to introduce the reduced timetable made in a bid to ensure services were able to keep running.

There is a heightened risk of more staff being told to isolate compared to the outbreak last spring because the testing and contact tracing process is more comprehensive this time.

There is also set to be another round of community engagement around the ferries.

North Isles councillor Duncan Anderson said this week that the decision to reduce the timetable was “not taken lightly”.

“The SIC is fully aware of the inconvenience this will cause for some,” he said.

“I am told as soon as the NHS feel the local outbreak is under control we will be going back to a normal service, it is not dependent on us being in tier three or not.

“I am of the opinion that the communication around this to ferry users could have been better so that is something we will discuss, although hopefully we will not have to return to these level of restrictions again in the future.”

Anderson added that decision to restrict services was “certainly not taken to save money as some are saying”.

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