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19/03/2020

COVID-19 - CalMac's arrangements on advance bookings and hot food offering

During the current global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), CalMac is working closely with all relevant agencies and has implemented a COVID-19 contingency plan in line with current Government strategy.

In response, CalMac will now stop taking new bookings on all of its services up to and including 15 July 2020 as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Bookings can still be made for travel from 16 July and beyond. Bookings that have already been made up to that period will be honoured where services are running. Priority will continue to be given to emergency services and medical emergencies. We will now be operating a turn up and go service on all of our routes.

CalMac will also stop serving hot food on board from tomorrow morning (20 March 2020) to free up our staff to crew our vessels.

Whilst we are currently able to continue operating our normal timetabled service; we do need to plan ahead for the impact the virus may have on our operations. For this reason, customers will not be able to book any service in advance for sailings due to take place up to and including 15 July. Bookings can still be made for travel from 16 July. This is to reflect the four-month period advised by Scottish Government as being the initial period of COVID-19 disruption.

Our catering services on board will be reduced but will offer tea, coffee and pre-packaged foods, such as sandwiches. Bottled and packaged drinks and snacks will also continue to be offered.

Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac said: "The COVID-19 outbreak is creating an ever-changing landscape not just for CalMac but for all transport operators and indeed all businesses.

"Whilst we are currently able to continue operating our normal timetabled service, we have to plan for the impact of the virus on our staff  at ports, on vessels and within our support services. It has been prudent, therefore, to pause our ability to offer  customers advance bookings.

"We will be operating a turn up and go service on all of our routes. This will reflect arrangements we have much experience with, and those we already have in place permanently in a number of locations across the network, such as Wemyss Bay and Rothesay.

"We know how popular our food service is on board our routes, but we are sure our customers will understand our need to free up as many staff as possible to help with priority tasks such as cleaning and other on board duties. Understandably, we are seeing a reduction in the amount of food purchased at this time in any case, so this decision makes sense.

"As the situation is changing on a daily basis, we will keep this situation under constant review."

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