THE ILEACH :: THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FOR ISLAY + JURA
closed gates at Bowmore distillery

The closed gates at Bowmore distillery are reflected all across the island, as Islay and Jura's distilleries closed to visitors. This was subsequently overtaken by Government advice relating to essential travel and that only island residents and essential workers travel from the mainland to the isles.

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Still here

The Ileach is now in its 47th year and has weathered more than just a few economic downturns in its time, local, national and global. However, the current situation is unprecedented in our lifetimes.
With every intention of heading towards forty eight years and beyond, we will continue to produce the newspaper for as long as is practical and possible. And just as in previous times of difficulty, we would appreciate your support in making this happen.
Although the office in Main Street, Bowmore is closed to the public, there will still be staff in the office Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm during production weeks, and 10am - 1pm during the intervening week. If you have stories to tell, articles to submit or need to advertise your services, please call on 01496 810 355, or e-mail theileach@ileach.co.uk
To keep up to date with important local information, please check our twitter feed @theileach or check this page regularly.
If you're staying at home and unable to pick up a paper copy, why not consider a PDF subscription? Annual cost is £27. We thank you and appreciate your continued support.
Stay safe.

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ISLAY & THE COVID-19 VIRUS: IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Updated Wednesday 8 April 2020

Prepared for the benefit of Islay residents, this downloadable PDF file offers general information along with details of the Islay Volunteer Network and the state of play with regard to local businesses and services. This will probably be updated regularly, so please check this page regularly.

DOWNLOAD HERE

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Excerpts from issue 47/12 28 March 2020

CalMac's Essential Lifeline Timetable

CalMac has introduced an Essential Lifeline Timetable from Friday 27 March, which according to their website will run until at least 14 April. This is of course as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The new reduced timetable, which will run for an initial three-week period, comes amidst a lockdown on all but essential travel across the whole of the UK. The transfer from the winter to the summer timetable should have happened over this current weekend but this revised timetable will come into effect instead.
The impact on the Islay-Kennacraig route will see two return sailings per day Monday - Saturday and a single service on Sunday.
The Islay departures Monday to Friday being 09:45hrs from Port Ellen and 15:30hrs from Port Askaig; Saturday at 09:45hrs from Port Ellen and 18:00hrs from Port Askaig; and finally, the single return sailing on a Sunday, leaves Kennacraig at 10:00hrs bound for Port Askaig and returns back to the mainland leaving Port Askaig at 13:30hrs. It will be subject to continual review in a rapidly changing environment, but they believe it is sustainable with their current crews.
CalMac report that all islands will receive a regular lifeline service ensuring essential goods and services are delivered.
In the last few days passengers on the entire service were down by 85%, cars by 75% and commercial traffic by 45%. In 2019 daily passenger numbers at the end of March were around 9,500, currently they are at 1,500 and these are expected to drop further. CalMac has also seen 8,000 bookings cancelled through their small dedicated contact centre teams compared to just 300 in the same period last year.
This new timetable will see weekly sailings drop from 2419 to 948 against the normal winter timetable - a drop of almost 61%.
"We believe that this timetable will be able to maximise use of available crews for the vessels and continue to provide our vital lifeline service for communities." said CalMac's Managing Director Robbie Drummond.
"These are extreme times for businesses across Scotland, the UK and indeed the world. As this virus spreads, there is the chance that pressure on crewing may require us to make further changes. In this eventuality, we will work to our agreed Route Prioritisation Matrix to ensure that all islands receive a service. We are in daily contact with the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland to ensure we are on top of all the latest advice and guidance." "Given the lockdown from the Government that has made travel essential only, we think this new timetable is one that best suits the needs of the communities we support," added Robbie.
"It is important that we continue to provide ferries that can take vital goods and services to our island communities and transport people who have essential travel needs. Community groups and key hauliers have been consulted to ensure that the supply chains can be maintained."
The new timetable can be viewed at calmac.co.uk

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ISLAY DISTILLERY CLOSURES

All of Islay's distilleries are closed to visitors until further notice. All tours, whether booked in advance or otherwise, have been cancelled. The distillery visitor centres and shops are also closed, along with the cafés and restaurants at Ardnahoe and Ardbeg.

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Changes to bins, roads and amenity services

Argyll and Bute Council has announced changes to how they work on bin and other amenity and road services to help keep people safe from the spread of coronavirus. To that end they have announced that the following services will continue:
Collecting the general waste bins, maintaining the current schedule. Please put your general waste bin out on your usual day and we will collect it as soon as we can.
Providing burial and cremation services but limiting attendance to immediate family members only (up to a maximum number of eight).
Limit ferry and air travel via our ferries and Oban airport to emergency/essential travel only.
Make repairs to dangerous defects in infrastructure and follow up inspections as required.
Respond to emergency call-outs and winter maintenance as necessary.
Provide any home-to-school transport as required for essential/key workers.
Commercial waste uplifts for businesses that are permitted to continue to trade and have a contract with us. Those that deal with food will have their food waste collected separately.

However, the following are services which they have had to stand down to comply with government guidelines around social distancing; for the duration of current guidance of three weeks, and to meet staff shortages:
Public conveniences to be closed.
Emergency road repairs to continue; all other road works to cease on account of lack of materials and staff. All roadworks to cease and current jobs will be made safe and traffic management will be removed where possible.
Following Scottish Government instructions, play parks will close immediately, along with outdoor gyms. Football pitches should no longer be used for matches, but can be used for exercising as long as social distancing is respected.
Civic amenity sites will close to the public immediately.
We will not be collecting blue bins/bags. Please store your recycling where possible or flatten your recycling to get as much as possible into your blue bin and bag any extra.
We will not be collecting glass or domestic food waste.
There will be one more collection of commercial waste for businesses that have to close as a result of the response to Covid-19. It will then stop for customers who don't need it. There will still be a service for businesses that are open and have a contract with us e.g. supermarkets.
The Council adds that the situation is fluid and they may need to make changes at short notice. Urgent changes will be posted on their website: argyll-bute.gov.uk/service-disruptions.
Information on longer-term changes will be issued on social media channels, website and local press.
The Council appeals to members of the public to work with them during this challenging time, saying "We are working hard to protect our frontline staff. You can help us by reading the guidance about waste disposal if someone in the household has or is suspected of having COVID-19: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/
"We will resume services wherever possible. Until then, our focus is on maintaining the most vital services."

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Curtain falls on this year's Cantilena Festival
Cantilena at Lagavulin 2019

Following the news of cancellations of several key events and dates in the Islay calendar this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, comes further disappointing but in the circumstances understandable news, that the Cantilena Festival of classical music has been cancelled this year.
The musical feast, with some of Scotland's finest musicians, takes place on Islay in the first week of July every year, and this year was a special one, as the troupe were planning Cantilena's twentieth year celebrations.
Festival co-ordinator Lauren McCormick told the Ileach the organisers had "extremely reluctantly, taken the sad decision to cancel this year's Festival which was due to launch on Sunday 5 July. This is all the more heartbreaking for us as this was to be a celebration of our twentieth year."
The Board of Cantilena Festival on Islay also released a formal statement to the Ileach outlining their obvious disappointment. "In view of the unprecedented situation of the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty of its term, along with the effect on travel, venues and accommodation, it is with extreme regret that we have taken the difficult decision to cancel this year's Festival.
"This is all the more heartbreaking for us as we were so much looking forward to joining our wonderful friends and supporters in celebrating our twentieth year, but we have a duty of care to not only our players but to everyone who is involved in the Festival. We are already looking forward to 2021."

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE, Saturday 11 April 2020

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