COVID-19 Update

Last Updated: 13th July 2020

Iona has been a place of welcome and hospitality for centuries and as restrictions begin to ease we are looking forward to being able to offer that welcome and hospitality again. Travel in the time of Coronavirus will involve a lot of trust and responsibility on all sides. We expect visitors will want to know what new measures businesses here are implementing so that they can feel confident, relaxed and enjoy their time here. We also hope that visitors will play their part by respecting and following guidance and regulations. This will help our community to feel confident and relaxed about being a welcoming place once again.  

Therefore, we expect visitors to do the following

  • Strictly follow all Scottish Government guidance concerning your trip - please do not come if you should be self-isolating because you have symptoms or are a contact of someone who has tested positive. If you are in a sheilding category please follow guidance as it emerges. 

  • Strictly follow all Scottish Government guidance regarding accommodation - particularly noting that currently different households must still maintain 2 metres physical distancing from one another indoors as well as outdoors. 

  • Strictly follow all hygiene and physicial distancing rules when you’re on the island - including keeping 2m distance from others, hand and cough hygiene, and mandatory use of face coverings on public transport, and in our shops

During this summer some businesses and facilities on Iona may be operating differently from usual, or may not be open at all. We will try to update this page with general information as things change. Please contact individual businesses directly to check details on any changes to opening, services available and COVID-19 protocols.  

We STRONGLY recommend that you do not travel to Mull or Iona for an overnight stay unless you have booked accommodation before you travel.

As of 9th July, Scotland entered phase 3 of the Scottish Government route map through the COVID-19 crisis. We hope things will continue to improve and get easier. Some of the guidance and regulations are changing quite regularly now which means it is more important than ever to keep up to date with changes and ensure we are following current advice. 

The same restrictions and regulations are in place on Iona as throughout the rest of Scotland and apply equally to residents and visitors.

Face coverings

Use of face coverings on public transport and in shops is now mandatory.

Wearing a face covering is not an alternative to physical distancing, hand washing and cough hygiene practice. 

It is important to note that that there are some exceptions. Face coverings are not recommended at all for children under the age of 2 and are not mandatory for children under 5. Others (i.e. people with asthma) may also have very good reasons for choosing not to cover their mouth and nose. There are also exemptions for staff in some circumstances.

More details on use of face coverings is available from the Scottish Government website  and the World Health Organsiation has clear guidance on how to use a face covering or mask safely.

Avoid Crowded Places

Here on Iona we are lucky to have plenty of open spaces so it is rare that any one area will ever get too crowded. If you do get to the beach and find someone else near your favourite spot please choose a different place to sit or go back at a different time.  

Please follow instructions from individual businesses as to how many people are permitted at any one time. 

Clean your hands regularly 

Wash your hands regularly and as soon as you get home or back to your accommodation, or as soon as you go into someone else's house. 

Sanitise your hands after touching gates or stiles when out and about.

Clean hard surfaces after you touch them. 

Two Metre Distance 

In Scotland, 2 metres remains the benchmark for physical distancing between households. This applies outdoors as well as inside public spaces and between households who are meeting inside private homes.    

The Test and Protect system also uses contact within 2 metres for 15 minutes or more when considering who would need to self-isolate as a close contact of someone who contracts COVID-19. 

As Scotland enters phase 3 of the route map, some exemptions are now allowed for specific sectors where agreed mitigations are put in place. Businesses will be required to provide clear signage and infromation if they are operating under an exception to the requirement for 2 metres physical distancing. 

Children who are aged 11 years old or younger do not now need to physically distance from adults or other children when they are outdoors or indoors.

Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms

We must all be aware of the symptoms of the virus:  

A new continuous cough, or 

Fever, or 

Loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).

If you have any Coronavirus symptoms, you need to self-isolate and ask for a test as soon as possible.

PLEASE NOTE: The national NHS Inform system for testing does not work for our island location. Anyone experiencing symptoms here should call 111, explain that they are on an island and that they need to speak to a GP on Mull to arrange a test.  

Isolating if you may have the virus

People who have symptoms and their household members should self-isolate. 

The general Scottish Government advice is that if you develop symptoms while away from home you should return home as soon as possible. However, as people with symptoms cannot travel on public transport (currently including ferries) this will not be possible from Iona. If you are a visitor and develop symptoms you should contact your accommodation provider as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made for you to self-isolate for the required period of time. 

We believe this issue is currently being looked at by CalMac and Transport Scotland so it is possible a solution may be found to allow symptomatic visitors to travel home in a safe manner. 

Isolating if someone you have been in contact with has tested positive

The NHS also asks people to self-isolate who do not have symptoms but have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed by testing to have the virus.

If you are a visitor to Iona and are told to self-isolate for this reason but do not have any symptoms yourself then you should return home straight away. 

Meeting with other households

Outdoors: one household can meet with up to 4 other households at a time, up to a maximin of 15 people in total. 

Indoors: one household can meet with up to 2 other households at a time, up to a maximum of 8 people in total. This includes overnight stays.  

Different households are still expected to maintain 2 metres physical distancing both outdoors and indoors, and strict hygiene measures. 

A households can meet up to 4 other households per day in total. As an exception there is no limit to the number of households someone aged 17 or younger can meet with in any one day. However, young people aged 12-17 must continue to physically distance. 

Children aged 11 or younger no longer need to physically distance outdoors or indoors. 

Extended Households: in addition to single-adult households being able to form an Extended Household with one other household, non-cohabiting partners (and any children under 18 in their households) can also now form an Extended Household without physical distancing. 

This means that multi-household occupancy of holiday homes is now  permitted for up to 3 households so long as people from different households will be able to maintain 2 metres physical distancing from one another at all times, including within the house. If you are not able to maintain the 2 metres distancing between households then you are not currently permitted to share accommodation. 

Air Bridges

On 8th June, new requirements were put in place for residents and visitors entering Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area, which included having to self-isolate for the first 14 days after arrival. 

From 10th July you will not have to self-isolate when you arrive in Scotland if you are travelling from one of the countries or territories on this list of exemptions.

If you are travelling from a country or territory not on this list then you are required to self-isolate on entering Scotland regardless of whether you first arrived directly into Scotland or into another part of the U.K.