Lundy Island ‘well prepared’ to deal with coronavirus crisis as last visitors head home

Lundy Island. Picture: Matt Smart

Lundy Island. Picture: Matt Smart - Credit: Matt Smart

Lundy Island is well prepared to look after itself during the coronavirus crisis according to the island’s manager.

Lundy Island.

Lundy Island. - Credit: Johnathan Evans

Lundy will be entering a shutdown period from Friday (March 27) when the last of its visitors is transported back from the island, leaving its 28 full-time residents.

Its Marisco Tavern was already closed by the time the Prime Minister ordered pubs and other businesses to close in a bid to stop any potential spread of the disease, and the island closed to new visitors on March 23.

Island manager Derek Green said the island had a ‘robust plan’ in place after dealing with norovirus outbreak in 2008.

He said: “Our first response team have been on high alert waiting for somebody informing us they have been infected, so we’ve been geared up for three weeks.

Lundy Island

Lundy Island - Credit: Archant

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“Fortunately we haven’t heard anything so far and once we lose the last of our visitors the island will be into what is pretty much a shutdown period.

“After seven days if we’ve got no symptoms with staff - and we’ve already been in touch with the NHS – maybe we can relax our rules a little bit. It’s the perfect place to isolate really.”

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The MS Oldenburg had been due to take the first day visitors over to the island, which is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust, on March 31.

But with the island closed to visitors until May in the first instance, the boat will be making two-weekly trips with a skeleton crew to keep the supply chain ticking over.

Mr Green said: “We are contacting those affected and rescheduling holidays for folks for a later date when all this is over.

“People have been supportive and just concerned for the islanders rather than their holiday.

“The staff on the island, the ship and the shore office have been so professional in ensuring our customers are well looked after and they really have been a credit to the island.

“We rely on visitor income to survive and we don’t have huge reserves to fall back on, so the Government’s job retention scheme is critical to ensure we can keep everyone employed.

“We’re expecting a huge influx of people fed up of being cooped up at home when all this settles down so it’s important that we are ready then.

“It remains to be seen how long this will go on for, and if it’s longer than six months it could be a different conversation. But certainly, the plan is to ride this out, make the most of it and get ready to welcome visitors on the other side.

“The guys on the island are very focused, know what to do and have a great management team over there keeping spirits and morale high, organising for when their self isolation has finished – and what better place to be self isolating.”

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