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Coronavirus / Book early to avoid disappointment, NorthLink advises

ISLANDERS planning on heading south are being encouraged to book a place on the boat at the “earliest opportunity” as demand from tourists gets set to increase.

This is particularly pertinent because the capacity on the two boats serving the Northern Isles continue to be reduced from 600 to 335 to maintain social distancing.

Yesterday (Monday) all travel was reopened in Scotland, with the hope that it provides a shot in the arm to Shetland’s ailing tourist industry.

Stuart Garrett
Serco NorthLink Ferries’ managing director Stuart Garrett.

But with capacity on the ferries in the summer already a concern pre-pandemic, there is a reminder to islanders to book early.

Serco’s managing director for NorthLink Ferries Stuart Garrett told Shetland News: “As was evidenced during the March ZetTrans External Transport Forum, we anticipate that passenger numbers will increase over the coming weeks and months, particularly as we head towards the summer peak.

“Car deck and accommodation space remains available, but as always, we would encourage islanders to book at the earliest opportunity, particularly when we are still operating on a reduced capacity due to Covid-19 physical distancing requirements.”

Airline Loganair, meanwhile, is waiting until next week before ramping its timetable after running a skeleton schedule since Christmas.

From 3 May flights to Edinburgh will resume, with the Glasgow service restarting later in the month.

The tourist centre at Lerwick’s Market Cross also reopened yesterday, providing hope that things are slowly getting back to some level of normality after four months without non-essential travel to the mainland.