A letter to Visitors from CNES and NHSWI

Dear Traveller,

Help us keep the Western Isles safe - a message to people travelling to and within our islands

Spectacular scenery, stunning beaches, world class heritage sites, Harris Tweed, and high quality food produce are just some of the ingredients which make the Western Isles a must see destination. Our rich cultural heritage and Gaelic traditions are also key elements which help to define the well-known phrase ‘That’s the way we do it in the Western Isles’ and we would urge you this year, more than any other, to play your part in keeping our islands safe.

We take great pride in the efforts that people in our community have made to minimise the risk of and spread of COVID-19 in the Western Isles. There have been high levels of compliance in the Western Isles with the Scottish Government’s guidance on lockdown, hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, shielding and self-isolation.

The efforts of many have ensured that the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is very small when compared to most other areas of Scotland.

Since the lockdown began, travel to the Western Isles by ferry and plane has been deliberately restricted to key workers with an essential need to visit our communities. As lockdown measures are eased, visits to the Western Isles for a short break or longer holiday are possible once again. If you are intending to visit by campervan, please ensure that you have a pre-booking at an official campsite.

Please do all you can to prevent further cases of COVID-19 in our islands. Follow the latest guidance from the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland – and help us to keep you and our community safe. If you are travelling to the Uists and Barra we would ask that you take particular care as there are limited health services in these remote communities.

There remains a risk of COVID-19 cases if people do not follow the latest guidance issued by the Scottish Government on good hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing and the use of face coverings.

If you are intending to travel to the Western Isles we would ask that you do not visit if you have, or have recently had, symptoms of COVID-19.

This year, more than any other, you have an important part to play in keeping our islands safe, and we ask for your understanding as we welcome you to our island home. We hope you have an enjoyable and memorable time during your stay in the Western Isles.

Gordon Jamieson                                                     Malcolm Burr

Chief Executive                                                        Chief Executive

NHS Western Isles                                                   Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

How you can help us to keep everyone safe

You can reduce the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by:

  • avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth
  • making sure you follow the Scottish Government’s advice and staying away from other people as much as possible, and physical distancing
  • maintaining good hand hygiene
  • covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use
  • wearing a face covering in line with Scottish Government regulations
  • avoiding direct contact with people with a respiratory illness and avoiding using personal items such as their mobile phone

What if you develop symptoms during your holiday?

In the event that you become unwell before reaching the Western Isles, you should return home to isolate, seeking medical help if necessary.

If, during your stay, you or a family member feel unwell with a new continuous cough OR fever OR loss of / change in sense of smell or taste which started within the last 7 days, you should self-isolate immediately and contact us to book a test. In accordance with Test & Protect, people with symptoms are required to self-isolate for at least 7 days, and everyone in their household should isolate for 14 days. If the test is positive, everyone should continue to isolate, and the NHS Test & Protect team will be in touch to start contact tracing. Those contacted through the Test & Protect programme will be required to self-isolate for at least 14 days.  If the test is negative, everyone can end isolation. 

To access testing in the Western Isles, contact the COVID-19 Response Team on 01851 601151 or email: wi-hb.covid19queries@nhs.net The phoneline is staffed from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday with an answering machine available outwith those hours. You can also book a test online at coronavirus.wi.nhs.scot or through NHS Inform.

If you are unsure or your symptoms worsen, please call NHS24 on 111 for advice or guidance or visit www.nhsinform.scot (Opens in a new window or downloads a file). If you have a medical emergency call 999 and tell them you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Where do I stay if I need to self isolate?

In the event that you become unwell and test positive for COVID-19 whilst on the Western Isles, you will be asked to self isolate in your current place of residence for seven days. Anyone within your household will be asked to self isolate for 14 days.

If returning home requires the use of public transport (including ferries, plane, buses), you will be advised that you cannot return home during your period of isolation, as the use of public transport will not be permitted.

Should you encounter issues in terms of accommodation during self isolation, you should discuss this with the NHS Test and Protect team and you may be signposted to the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000.

You can find out more information on COVID-19 by visiting coronavirus.wi.nhs.scot