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Less than half of CalMac passengers wearing face covering

By Mike Merritt

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The MV Loch Seaforth ferry on the Ullapool-Stornoway route. Picture: Alan Jamieson from Aberdeen, via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
The MV Loch Seaforth ferry on the Ullapool-Stornoway route. Picture: Alan Jamieson from Aberdeen, via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Passengers aboard Scotland's largest ferry fleet are being urged to wear face coverings to keep lifeline services running.

CalMac's Ferries Community Board's appeal follows a similar plea from the ferry company last week after a recent survey showed less than half of passengers are putting on a mask.

As cases of Covid continue to rise in Scotland, CalMac passengers are being told to comply with regulations.

"The Ferries Community Board is asking all passengers to wear their masks while travelling unless exempt from doing so," said Angus Campbell, chair of the board.

"At their meeting on Friday the board were informed of the huge pressures services are under. The number of staff having to self-isolate and vessels having to be deep cleaned has already hit services and the onboard offerings on some crossings. This has coincided with a reported drop in the number of passengers wearing masks.

"Please help protect our islands communities, your fellow passengers plus the staff and crew on our ferries network by taking the simple precaution of wearing a mask.

"Further increases in incidents can only lead to fewer services in an already struggling ferry network hurting our islands and the health of those who live and work on them."

The ferry service said it is experiencing "regular disruptions" due to crew members testing positive and urged the public to stick to Scottish Government rules and play their part in stopping the spread.

Passenger compliance with this law on board ferries has now dropped to less than 50 per cent.

Scottish Government rules state that on public transport people must by law wear a face covering, unless exempt.

When a staff member tests positive, close contacts also must be withdrawn from service until a negative test is returned. Every case identified on board a ferry also results in that vessel having to be removed to undergo a deep clean by a specialist cleaning company.

Robbie Drummond, managing director of CalMac, said: “The service can be severely disrupted if a crew member tests positive. Sailings are having to be cancelled due to a lack of crew when they require to be tested, and time must also be spent having vessels cleaned.

“Enforcing the law is a matter for the police but please respect CalMac crew and wear a face covering when asked to do so. You will be helping to protect people’s health as well as lifeline ferry services.”

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