A new financial safety net will provide reassurance to visitors to the Isles of Scilly if they develop Coronavirus during their holiday.
The Isles of Scilly Coronavirus Fund will provide private transport back to the mainland if a visitor tests positive for the virus during their holiday on the islands.
The fund has been made available by a groundbreaking collaboration between the Council of the Isles of Scilly, Tresco Estate and the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company.
The partnership was formed in response to concerns raised by islanders and visitors over how best to support visitors if they become ill during their holiday.
Visitors with severe symptoms would be supported by local NHS services, including emergency evacuation to mainland treatment if required. However, those with mild symptoms are unable to return to the mainland on regular transport services to self-isolate at home. There had been concern that extended self-isolation in holiday accommodation could prove costly for businesses and visitors.
Now, the new fund means visitors who test positive can safely return home to self-isolate at no additional cost to themselves, while accommodation providers can honour subsequent bookings after a deep clean of the property. This service would also be available to those who are named as a contact in the national Test and Trace system.
Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, Robert Francis, said: “We’re pleased to be able to offer this reassurance to anyone looking to book a trip to Scilly. Visitors and businesses have made it clear that the issue of travel for individuals who test positive is a barrier to booking a holiday. I’m really grateful to our partners at the Steamship Group and Tresco Estate for collaborating with us on this scheme and we all look forward to offering a warm welcome to our much-missed visitors.”
If a visitor develops symptoms of Coronavirus during their holiday, they would self-isolate in their accommodation and arrange for a test for the virus. If they test positive, they would be eligible for private sea or air transport to the mainland, where they can self-isolate at home, in line with government advice. Contacts of positive cases will also be eligible.
Private transport would usually be provided by Tresco Boat Services and St Mary’s Boatmen’s Association, using boats where crew and passengers can be isolated. Penzance Helicopters would also be able to provide private air transport aboard a dedicated aircraft specially-equipped with protective features used on air ambulance aircraft.
In all cases, no other passengers would be present, other than the affected holiday party and the vessel or aircraft would be deep cleaned before any subsequent use. Onward travel plans are being worked through for visitors who have not driven.
Robert Dorrien-Smith of Tresco Estate said: “Clearly this has been an issue that has caused great concern over recent days and I am delighted that, together, we have come up with a solution. We can now look forward to welcoming our visitors back with a warm Scillonian welcome and a feeling of confidence that Scilly remains a safe and welcoming place to visit.”
Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, Stuart Reid, said: “This is an excellent example of collaboration between ourselves and our partners. I am very pleased that we have been able to work together so effectively and speedily to identify and agree a solution that will reassure islanders and visitors and provide confidence to the market.”
Further information on the Fund will be released in the coming days.