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By Promote ShetlandMay 18th 2021

Updated 20 December 2021

The emergence of the Omicron variant has led to new guidelines and a tightening of some existing rules. Here we look at what that means if you're planning a trip to Shetland to visit for a holiday or to see friends and family this winter.

When can I book a trip to Shetland?

Travel to Shetland is allowed from Scotland and other parts of the UK. This includes travellers from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.

There are no restrictions on travelling between this 'Common Travel Area' but the Scottish Government's guidance on travel and transport is regularly reviewed and travellers should check the latest situation before travelling.

In general, the same Covid-19 rules apply in Shetland as elsewhere in Scotland with face coverings required in most indoor settings and on public transport.

For travel information to the isles, please see the NorthLink and Loganair websites for the latest ferry and air travel updates.

Do I need to take a Covid test before I travel?

Those travelling to Shetland and other Scottish islands should take lateral flow tests ahead of their visit. Lateral flow tests are free to order for anyone living in Scotland. To find out more about this and how to order, check the Scottish Government website.

People are requested to take the following precautions before they travel:

  • Complete a lateral flow device (LFD) test three days before you travel
  • Repeat this again on the day of travel
  • If you test positive you should complete your period of self-isolation before travelling.
  • Delay your trip, self-isolate and book a PCR test if you have Covid symptoms (new continuous cough or high temperature or loss/ change in sense of taste or smell).

Can I travel from abroad to Shetland?

The Scottish Government has introduced rules that apply to everyone arriving in Scotland from abroad. There are different requirements for those who are "fully vaccinated" and those who aren't.

If you are fully vaccinated you must be able to prove that, including showing that it was at least 14 days since your last dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. If you're not able to prove that, or the vaccine you've had is not approved in the UK, you should follow the travel rules for someone who is not fully vaccinated.

Other requirements are to take a Covid-19 test before travelling and after arriving in Scotland, and to fill in a passenger locator form.

Those who are not fully vaccinated must take an additional test eight days after arriving in Scotland and must self-isolate at home or the place they are staying for 10 days.

Further information is available in the Scottish Government's international travel guidance and the UK government has advice on overseas travel.

Can I book accommodation in Shetland?

Accommodation can be booked and, like all hospitality venues, those providing accommodation have been told to strengthen compliance with current protection measures and make an extra effort through the festive period and beyond.

If someone develops symptoms while staying in tourism accommodation they should immediately book a test through NHS Inform or NHS Shetland and should isolate while awaiting the result.

Will shops, hospitality and tourist attractions be open?

Yes, shops and hospitality businesses remain open, but as described above more stringent measures are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In general, many tourist attractions are now closed for the season and will continue to review their plans on an ongoing basis. To avoid disappointment, we suggest you research the things you want to do and places you want to see before you get here. We also advise booking restaurants and visitor attractions in advance, where possible.

Discover more about what you may see during a winter visit to Shetland.

General guidance for visitors

While in Shetland follow the Public Health guidance. This includes:

  • Wearing a face-covering where required
  • Social distancing where required
  • Washing hands
  • Meeting with others outside, if you can
  • Ensuring good ventilation if indoors
  • Ensuring you have been vaccinated if eligible
  • Doing regular lateral flow tests if you have no symptoms.

If you develop Covid symptoms in Shetland you should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test via the NHS Shetland website.

The emergence of the Omicron variant has reiterated the importance of everyone remaining vigilant and following the latest NHS guidelines. Everyone is being asked to limit social contacts and to ensure they do only meet in groups of no more than three households in the run-up to Christmas.

We look forward to welcoming you to Shetland.