Tighter festive Covid-19 restrictions spark major changes for Shetland transport routes

Emergency changes to transport routes in and out of Shetland have been announced following alterations to Covid-19 regulations over the festive period. 

Loganair and NorthLink Ferries both posted urgent updates to customers in response to the tightening of measures by UK and Scottish governments on Saturday.

Many Shetland folk who had planned to travel over the festive period, will be unable to do so under the updated restrictions. 

The changes, introduced due to the spread of a new Covid variant, mean that a five day window when folk would have been able to travel to form Christmas bubbles with friends and family has been cut to just Christmas Day. 

Shetland is also set to enter level three restrictions from Boxing Day, banning all non-essential travel in and out of the isles, for three weeks. 

Travel between Scotland and other UK nations remains unlawful throughout the  period. 

Loganair’s customer services team was inundated with calls following the changes. 

It issued a statement urging people to refrain from calling and follow guidance on its website. 

The airline said Saturday’s announcement meant many customers would be unable to travel over the coming weeks and Christmas in particular. 

It will introduce an emergency timetable from Tuesday for routes including between Sumburgh and Aberdeen and Kirkwall.

Mail flights and those for the oil and gas industry will also continue, it said. 

However, Loganair said there may still be changes to timetables for those routes.

All other routes, including those between Sumburgh, Edinburgh and Glasgow will be temporarily discontinued from 6am on Tuesday. 

They are not planned to resume until 1st February.

Customers whose flights have been cancelled can claim a full refund or place their booking on hold for use within 12 months, with no change fee or difference in fare payable.

People with bookings for routes that will continue to operate, but who may not be able to travel due to the changes in restrictions, can also claim a refund or place their booking on hold.

Loganair said customers who are still able to travel in line with government guidelines need not take any action. However they are asked to take with them proof of the essential nature of your journey – such as a key worker confirmation letter.

The airline said its healthy flying protocols will remain in place on every flight.

“Your safety and security are always of paramount importance to us, and should the developments in the fight against Covid-19 require any changes or enhancements, please rest assured that we will not hesitate to act straight away,” Loganair added. 

NorthLink said sailings to and from Shetland remained open.

However, as the  festive relaxation of rules will now only cover Christmas Day, NorthLink asked customers to get in touch if they need to change their travel plans.

Stuart Garrett, Serco’s managing director for NorthLink Ferries, said: “Following the revised guidance issued by the Scottish government on Saturday, and in order to tighten protection against the spread of the new, highly contagious strain of the virus, passengers should only be travelling with NorthLink Ferries at this time if their journey meets the essential requirements as set out for the current level three and forthcoming level four guidelines.

“Any customer whose travel plans are impacted and need to change or cancel their arrangements should contact us directly.”

The SIC also said that from Boxing Day, travel on public transport in Shetland, such as buses, inter-island ferries and flights, should be for essential purposes only.

The Scottish government said it was significantly tightening protections to prevent the spread of the new, highly contagious strain of the virus.

Where possible, it urged people to celebrate the festive period at home in their own household and meet with others outdoors.


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