Skomer and Skokholm Islands Update – Covid-19

Skomer Island is managed by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales

Skomer Island is managed by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales

If you have an overnight booking please wait for us to contact you!

Skokholm Island. Lucy Griffiths

Skokholm Island. Lucy Griffiths

As you know we have been closely monitoring the Coronavirus guidelines issued by the Welsh Government since March 2020.

There are many considerations for us when we think about our precious islands, including visitor boat transportation, the difficulty in maintaining social distancing whilst boarding passengers and the provision of facilities once on the islands themselves.

After much discussion and consideration, The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) Board of Trustees has reluctantly decided that:

1. Overnight accommodation on Skomer or Skokholm Islands will remain closed for the remainder of the 2020 season.

2. Day visits to Skomer Island cannot resume at the moment, but we will keep this situation under review as further guidance is issued by the Welsh Government.

This has been a very difficult decision and we know it will be a great disappointment to our guests but the safety of our island staff, Dale Sailing boat staff, our visitors and our local community remains our key priority.

We would like to thank everyone for keeping in touch with our Islands via social media, the Skokholm Blog and Skomer LIVE and those who have donated to our Islands emergency appeals. 


Further information. 

Current Welsh Government guidance: From 6th July, if conditions allow, the requirement to stay local will lift and people can travel to tourist attractions across Wales. Self-contained holiday accommodation may be able to reopen on 13th July. The requirement to maintain a 2m social distance remains, as is the requirement that people should only meet with one other household outdoors.

Boat Access to the Islands: Trips to the Islands are dependent on Dale Sailing who provide our boat service. We are in close contact with them and continue to discuss options as guidance changes. Currently, charter and leisure boats cannot run, until restrictions on boat activities are lifted. We also share concerns for boarding and disembarking passengers whilst maintaining social distancing and boat trips for mixed groups are not currently possible.

Day trips to Skomer: The current restrictions on boats and social distancing make day trips impossible. Should these restrictions lift, there is also a concern about the safety of compost toilets, and the safety of the staff or volunteers who would have to clean and service them regularly. Without public toilets, daily trips to Skomer would have to be for a limited period of time. We also only have a skeleton staff team on both Islands and therefore have limited resources to manage an influx of daily visitors.

Accommodation on the Islands: Both Islands offer shared facilities for guests and volunteers; living rooms, dining room, kitchen and bathrooms. Under the current restrictions we cannot re-open the accommodation because it is not self-contained. If the restrictions on shared facilities are lifted but social distancing remains in place, then the accommodation alterations needed would not be feasible. The additional requirements for deep cleaning accommodation between guests would also be extremely difficult given the limitations imposed on the Islands by being off-grid and with limited access to power and hot water. Some research indicates that the time that the virus survives on surfaces may be affected by temperature with higher temperatures reducing the period of time the virus remains infectious. The unique nature of our un-heated accommodation brings additional risks. Should anyone fall ill while staying on the Island then it would be extremely difficult to arrange safe passage off the Island and to quarantine those left on the Island.

Transferring bookings.

Whilst we have never transferred bookings from one year to the next we have decided that this is an appropriate course of action in this unprecedented situation. Bookings will be offered for the same period in the same month next year. So if you have a reservation between April and July your booking would remain for the same period next year. Transferring bookings to different dates next year is complex and we must wait for all 2020 guests to exercise their options before considering this.

If you have an overnight booking please wait for us to contact you – there is only one member of staff working on this so please be patient, we will work through the bookings in sequence and you will be contacted in due course.

Refunds.

If you would rather have monies returned this will be completed when our teams return to work as we cannot perform this whilst working from home, we do appreciate your patience with this matter.

Donations.

This is clearly an unprecedented time for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. Please consider donating some or all of your booking fees to help the islands.

You can let us know your wishes by emailing us at islands@welshwildlife.org