Isles FM News in association with Hebrides News - Monday 22nd June 2020


Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have announced preparations for Western Isles Transport, moving into Phase 2 of the Covid 19 route map.

It is intended that service changes to buses, will commence on Monday 29 June. Details of the available services and how to book will be issued on Wednesday.

This next phase will allow increased access to public bus services, while maintaining control of passenger numbers. This will be achieved by extending the scope of the current booking system, but also moving closer to a regular timetabled service.

National guidance has now made face coverings compulsory. From today, passengers will only be permitted to travel on public transport, if they are wearing appropriate face covering. Passengers will be expected to provide their own face coverings.

Face coverings will be required for all passengers booked on key worker transport from today. It is still important to maintain social distancing and other measures.

Travel on public transport should only be used for essential journeys. During Phase 2, workers will continue to be given priority on the services running at the start and end of the day. Requests for shopping or short distance leisure travel would be accommodated by the mid-morning/mid-afternoon services, which are less likely to have many travelling workers.


Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have announced service updates for Covid testing in care homes
Testing for both staff and service users for COVID 19, has occurred throughout the social care sector, during the pandemic. All tests thus far have returned as negative. The service has now entered its second week of sample testing of care home staff. The uptake has been very positive with a significant majority of residential staff now tested.

The high volume of negative test returns, has provided further evidence of the likely R rating in the community and allows the Comhairle to begin planning for some easing of the restrictions within care homes between residents, whilst continuing to ensue social distancing.

From next week the testing regime will likely change to utilizing the UK Testing Portal, where staff will self-test and the tests will be couriered to a mainland testing centre. Should there be a positive test, then Public Health will be notified in addition to the individual being tested, and a planning meeting will be convened.

There has been a focus on infection prevention and control measures, throughout all care homes. There is a robust system in place to access PPE supplies with hubs strategically placed across our island communities.

The 3 local PPE Hubs were set up in Stornoway (Lewis and Harris) Uist and Barra. Stock is delivered from the NSS National Distribution Centre to the three local Hubs and kept on site.



Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has given an update on Sports Facilities, which are currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Sports Facilities Services Manager Tony Wade said: Over the coming weeks, we will be following guidance from the Scottish Government, Sport Scotland and national sporting organisations, to prepare to re-open our sports facilities. The 'new normal' for sport will be very different in the near future.

There will be restrictions on the numbers of users able to access facilities, to meet social distancing guidelines. Activities will need to be booked in advance, to ensure customer and staff safety. There will be many more areas where new processes will be required. We are also already contacting sports clubs informally, about how things may work for them. This process will continue as national guidance emerges.


Point and Sandwick Trust have this week completed delivery of protective face visors, to all care homes and hospitals in the Western Isles.

The kit has now been supplied for the seven local authority care homes, three private care homes and the three hospitals in Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra.

Tony Robson, PST’s engineering consultant, delivered the final batches of visors to Bethesda Care Home and Hospice and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on Wednesday – a move which came almost 15 years to the day after the community wind farm organisation, held its first public meeting.

Calum Macdonald, the former Western Isles MP who developed Point and Sandwick Trust’s wind farm at Beinn Ghrideag, said “ It is satisfying to see the positive impacts, that have resulted from successfully developing an 100 per cent community owned wind farm.
This project, shows the benefits of partnership working, in this case between PST and Lews Castle College, as well as the benefits of being able to return the profits generated by the wind farm.

back to the community.”



Lewis Crofters are further extending shop hours as from today. The shop will be open 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday. Also Saturdays from 8:30 to 4pm. These times apply to both shop and warehouse.

Guidelines in the store, include a one-way system around the shop. Customers are recommended to shop, as promptly as possible, to prevent holding others up and facemasks are advisable. All payments will be by bank card.
For customers who are shielding or collecting warehouse and yard items only, Lewis Crofters are still taking phone orders, for drive through collection.