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Passengers travelling on the ferry network across Scotland’s west coast this Christmas are being urged to plan ahead.
Ferry operator CalMac said it wants to ensure safe and smooth journeys for all when Covid-19 travel restrictions in Scotland are temporarily relaxed between Wednesday, December 23, to Sunday, December 27.
It said tickets for forward and return journeys should be booked in advance where possible to avoid disappointment.
These can be booked through the contact centre, the website and at port offices, see https://www.calmac.co.uk/faqs/tickets-and-reservations/contact-us
Social distancing rules mean that there are limits on the number of travellers allowed on board at any one time, it said.
Passengers must wear face coverings unless exempt where required, and must maintain social distancing.
Cashless payments are in place to protect staff and passengers, so passengers should remember to bring cards for buying tickets and for spending on board.
Those travelling with pets, must ensure they have a special pet ticket for them, which you can buy here.
Animals should be kept within designated areas on ferries during crossings, CalMac said.
Some routes require people to remain in their vehicles throughout the journey.
Anyone travelling should make sure that they have accommodation arranged in advance, as many hotels will be closed over the festive period.
Robert Morrison, operations director, said: ‘We recognise that people will want to visit loved ones during the relaxation of travel restrictions over Christmas and we want to play our part in making sure that journeys go ahead smoothly.
‘Islanders can be reassured that we will continue to do everything we can to protect their health during this time.
‘Please book in advance for both outward and return journeys, and do not worry about having to cancel – you will receive a 100 per cent refund until the end of January.
‘Weather can also play a part in disrupting sailings, so always check your journey by signing up to receive updates or by checking your journey online.
‘CalMac staff are working hard to make sure that everyone has a safe and pleasant festive season when travelling with us, so please be respectful and follow all safety rules.’
Anyone planning to travel with CalMac this Christmas is being encouraged to fill out a short survey to gauge demand for sailings which can be found here.
Scottish Government rules on Christmas bubbles – December 23-27
You can form a Christmas bubble of up to three households, including one extended household, up to a maximum of 8 people (not including children under 12).
You can travel anywhere in Scotland and the rest of the UK to meet people in your bubble – but you should follow local travel rules once you arrive.
Bubble members can meet/stay in each other’s houses, in self-catering accommodation within a council area a member of the bubble lives in, public outdoor places and in places of worship.
You do not have to form a bubble if you do not want to – the safest way to spend Christmas is to stay in your own household, in your own home and your own local area.
You should not go to a pub or restaurant or entertainment venue, for example a cinema or theatre, with your bubble.
If you don’t form a bubble you must follow the rules in the local authority area you live in.
To check the rules for a particular area of Scotland, enter your postcode here https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level/