The news that Skellig Michael is to remain closed for summer 2020 is disappointing but understandable given the current pandemic according to local boatmen.
he decision last week by the OPW following a review of its earlier decision to close tourist site, was made in the interests of the health and safety of all those visiting the site.
“Having considered all the issues however, we have concluded that this is not feasible and Skellig Michael cannot be made safe from Covid-19 for either visitors or staff. Regretfully therefore, we have to confirm the Skellig Michael site will not reopen for the remainder of the 2020 season.”
The UNESCO World Heritage site, which gained even wider international fame following the filming of the recent Star Wars movies on the island, was not allowed to open on May 15 due to COVID-19.
However, as the situation has changed and other tourists sites were opened, a review of this decision was sought.
This week the OPW has upheld its original decision and deemed that the site will remain closed for the rest of the season.
“In the circumstances it is understandable. There is disappointment of course but health and safety is first and foremost,”said boatman Paul Devane.
Thankfully many of the boatmen, have seen an increase in the number of Irish tourists taking tours around the island instead which has helped some of those involved in Skellig Michael tours to remain positive this summer.
15 boatmen have permits to land on Skellig Michael which has a capacity of 180 daily. The OPW said risks on the boat trip and on the island in relation to Covid remained a concern.
A previous Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which released details of why a decision was made not to open the island detailed vomiting on the boat trip as one of the concerns.
Cllr Michael Cahill said the community was left reeling from the decision and the knock-on affect this will have .
“I am disappointed for all those whose livelihoods are so heavily affected and worry greatly about the knock-on affects,” he said.