Visitors to Shetland will be encouraged to take two Covid-19 tests before travelling.
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement today (Tuesday) as she confirmed the easing of restrictions across the country from next week.
While the big announcement for most of Scotland is the move from level four to three from Monday, Ms Sturgeon also made a special request for those visiting islands.
She said: “We are keeping island communities at the same level as the rest of country at the moment so we can allow travel between island communities and the rest of Scotland.
“But we know that does create a risk for our island communities.
“Many of them currently have very, very low rates of Covid.
“They will be welcoming visitors form parts of Scotland – which I know many of them are looking forward to – where Covid will still be circulating at a higher level and move widely.
“So if you are planning to travel to an island we do encourage you to take two lateral flow tests before you depart.”
“The second test should be on the day that you are planning to travel, the first should be thee days before you travel.”
Ms Sturgeon said it meant anyone who tested positive had the chance to then take the more sensitive PCR test before cancelling their booking.
“This is potentially an important way in which we can minimise risks of bringing Covid into island communities. while nevertheless allowing our island communities the benefit of opening up to visitors,” Ms Sturgeon added.
Ms Sturgeon said it was possible to order tests from today and encouraged anyone planning on travelling next week to do so.
Following the announcement, Ms Sturgeon was asked why the recommendation for testing was not made mandatory.
She responded that the government did not want to introduce mandatory where it could be avoided.
Chief medical officer Gregor Smith also expressed confidence that travellers would take the tests.
Looking further ahead, Ms Sturgeon said she expected all of Scotland would move to level two on 17th May.
She said the intention was then to move to level one on 7th June and level zero by late June before “something much more like normality” during July.
“So, we are very hopeful of seeing sustained progress over the weeks and months ahead,” she added.
Other changes will enable cafes, pubs and restaurants to resume a full outdoor service.
They will also be able to serve food indoors without alcohol until 8pm.
Groups of up to six people from two households will be able to meet up at hospitality venues, but must maintain one metre physical distancing, as has always been the case.
A new requirement is for all visitors to provide contact tracing details, not just the group’s lead member.
Meeting in people’s homes is still not permitted.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The changes that come into force next week have been hard earned by all of us. I know that many will be looking forward – quite rightly – to their first drink in a beer garden, to catching up with a friend in a café, or to going on holiday somewhere in Scotland.
“But even as we enjoy those moments, we still need to be careful. We must remember the virus is more infectious now than it was when bars and cafés were last open, so we must still stick to the rules. However, we are hopeful of seeing sustained progress in the weeks and months ahead.”