The leader of Western Isles Council has hailed residents for complying with Covid rules and helping ensure the area’s low infection rate is maintained.
For large parts of last year, the Western Isles recorded the lowest number of Covid cases in Scotland.
However, a spike of cases in January resulted in the Western Isles joining the rest of the country in lockdown as part of efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Now Comhairle councillor Roddie Mackay is reflecting on the “most challenging year” for people on the isles, including Barra, North and South Uists, Benbecula, Harris and Lewis.
This comes as today marks one year since the coronavirus crisis struck the country.
‘Very grateful’ for Western Isles residents’ efforts
Mr Mackay said: “I think it would be appropriate for us all to take a moment now to remember all those people in the Western Isles and further afield, who have been impacted in the past year.
“We should also be thankful that we have maintained a very low infection rate and we are all pleased too that test and protect measurers have worked effectively.
“We all continue to be very grateful to everyone who has been working with great dedication for over a year now in order to cope with this pandemic.
“We really do appreciate your ongoing efforts in listening to the public health messaging and following the guidance which no doubt will help bring this unprecedented experience to a conclusion.
“Then we can all look forward to better times ahead together with family, friends and colleagues.”
Earlier this month, NHS Western Isles said that more than 50 percent of adults had received their first does of the Covid vaccine.
Mr Mackay praised the area’s vaccine programme, adding: “We are fortunate now to be in a position where it is protecting older members of our community and being rolled out at pace among other age groups.
“Well done to all involved in the efficient and effective delivery of the programme.”
Youngsters set to return
From March 15, all children in primaries four to seven will return to school full-time under phase two of the government’s return to school plan, while Western Isles secondary pupils are to return on a part time basis.
This comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the next step in the return to schools, revealing the “clear expectation” all secondary school pupils would be back full time after the spring break.
Mr Mackay said: “From March 15, all secondary pupils will receive both high quality remote learning and some in-school teaching.
“Senior phase students (S4-S6) who are taking national qualifications will have priority for face-to-face lessons in school and some time will also be made for students in S1-3 to have time in school, with a focus on social interaction with peers and re-familiarisation with school attendance.
“This is clearly very welcome news for many pupils.
“Schools are working very hard, in partnership with the Education Department, for their return and looking forward to being able to welcome them back and resume face-to-face teaching.
“I want to reassure everyone that a great deal of work has taken place to minimise risk of transmission of the virus in a school setting
On Tuesday, the Scottish Government will revealed their plans for the next few weeks as detail is added to the roadmap out of lockdown.