Isles MSP Beatrice Wishart has called the decision to restrict travel on the NorthLink “necessary and sensible”.
NorthLink announced on Sunday that travel on its ferries would be restricted to islanders and those who have an essential need to travel to or from the mainland.
This followed a statement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said that “from now on ferries will be for those who live on our islands, who have an essential need to travel to or from the mainland and for essential supplies or business”.
Ms Wishart said: “It’s vital that lifeline ferry services are kept running to support island business and essential travel and that crew are not exposed to unacceptable risks. This is a necessary and sensible measure to help protect islanders, island health services and those crew members.
“Whilst Shetland is very welcoming to tourists, this is not the time to visit the isles. I cannot stress that enough.”
NorthLink has suspended its online booking system as a result of the decision to restrict travel, and is directing queries to its customer contact centre on 0845 6000 449 or 01856 885500, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The statement from the First Minister followed concerns that tourists and second home owners were still travelling to and booking trips to the Highlands and Islands – even after advice to avoid unnecessary travel was issued.
Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd also welcomed the decision to restrict non-essential travel to the islands.
The list MSP said: “Due to an influx of tourists to the Highlands and Islands over the weekend, the Scottish Government has had to take the necessary steps to protect our rural communities by placing restrictions on ferry travel.
“From now on, ferries will be for the use of those who live on our islands only. These preventative measures will help reduce the pressure on public services and rural shops.
“Ignoring the advice on avoiding unnecessary travel is irresponsible and has the potential to endanger lives. The advice could not be clearer – stay at home.”