Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, pressed the Government today to confirm their policy on cruise ship arrivals during the coronavirus crisis. Questioning Home Office ministers, Mr Carmichael highlighted the specific concerns in the Northern Isles and received confirmation that the Government would follow the science to prevent unsafe practices by cruise ship operators.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Overwhelmingly people entering the UK in Orkney and Shetland do so because they are coming off cruise ships. That traffic is currently suspended as a result of the businesses themselves suspending it but can the minister give me some reassurance that if these companies were to reinstate cruise ship business before it were safe to do so then steps would be taken to prevent them from doing it?”
Responding for the Government, Chris Philp MP said:
“As I said previously the scientific advice is at the forefront of the Government’s thinking and there is absolutely no question at all of any unsafe operating practice by cruise ship operators or anybody else being allowed. The Government will not contemplate allowing that to happen until the scientific advice categorically states that it is safe.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“Many constituents have written to me in recent days to speak of their alarm and concern about the potential risk of further spread of coronavirus through cruise ship arrivals in the isles. We pride ourselves on being a welcoming and openhearted community to all visitors in normal times, but now is the time to follow the science and reduce the spread of this disease.
“The Minister gave an unequivocal statement today that the Government would follow the scientific advice on the safety of future cruise ship arrivals. Cruise ship operators and others involved must take heed of these warnings now.”