Comhairle nan Eilean Siar harbours will return open port access to local leisure craft users today (Friday 29th May 2020) in line with Scottish Government guidelines laid out for Phase 1 easing of current lockdown restrictions.

Individual users are to ensure they continue to adhere to all Scottish Government legislation and guidelines.

Due to the unmanned nature of Comhairle harbours, users must take all necessary precautions in ensuring their own health and safety both in terms of COVID-19 and other general risks associated with waterborne activities.

The RNLI in Scotland has reacted to the Scottish Government’s plans for easing lockdown with an important safety warning.

The government plans which will permit people to travel short distances, limited to five miles within their local area, for exercise including allowing outdoor swimming, kayaking and angling have prompted the lifesaving charity to call for the public to stay safe.

“With an unusually warm spring coupled with the easing of a lockdown which has seen many of us unable to visit our favourite beaches, we expect many people to be eager to hit the coast.” said Jacob Davies, RNLI Lifesaving Manager for Scotland.

“However, just because the lockdown restrictions are being relaxed does not mean our coasts are safe, the dangers that have always been there remain. We ask those who are local to beaches to continue to be aware of the inherent dangers and to avoid taking risks.

“Scotland’s air temperature may be warming up but the sea temperature remains consistently chilly all year, jumping or falling into cold water or spending longer periods than normal submerged in the water can lead to, potentially fatal, cold water shock.”

Michael Avril, Scotland’s Water Safety Lead for the RNLI and Chair of Water Safety Scotland added: “The Scottish public need to remember the following safety advice: Stay in familiar surroundings, follow Scottish Government advice of remaining within five miles of your home, don’t put yourself, your family and emergency services at risk by taking risks or assuming it ‘won’t happen to you’.

“If you do see someone at risk call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

The message from the RNLI in Scotland is clear, an easing of lockdown does not mean an instantly safer coast and water temperatures remain dangerously cold.