Updated - 16/11/21
We’ve tried to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received below. Remember that things can change quickly and developments depend on the prevalence of COVID-19 nationally.
We’ll do our best to keep this information as up-to-date as possible, but do to check travel, accommodation and touring provider websites and social media for more information.
- Can I visit Orkney?
Yes, non-essential travel to and from Orkney is permitted. Orkney, just like the rest of Scotland, has moved beyond Level 0 COVID-19 restrictions, with the legal requirement for physical distancing and limits on gatherings now removed.
Details on Scotland’s levels system can be found on the Scottish Government website.
- Can I visit Orkney from other parts of the UK?
Yes - non-essential travel to and from Scotland from the rest of the UK is permitted.
- Do I need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling to Orkney?
There is no official requirement for anyone travelling to Orkney to take a pre-departure test but the Scottish Government is encouraging those planning to visit any Scottish island to voluntarily take a test for coronavirus prior to travel.
Rapid lateral flow test packs, containing seven tests, can be ordered online free of charge and sent to your home.
People are advised to use rapid lateral flow kits to self-test three days before and on the day of departure. If you or anyone in your household tests positive, everyone in the household must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test via NHS Inform. even if they have no symptoms;
You should also delay your trip, self-isolate and book a PCR test if you have COVID symptoms - a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss/change in sense of taste or smell.
We would encourage anyone planning to travel to Orkney to take two lateral flow tests prior to travel to help keep our community safe. Remember, a negative test result is not a guarantee you do not have coronavirus and you must continue to follow national and local guidance to help prevent the spread of the virus.
- What can I do to stay safe, and keep the islands safe, when I'm in Orkney?
Download the Protect Scotland app for free on Apple or Android. The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for coronavirus. It supports contact tracing and works through Bluetooth anonymously, protecting your privacy.
Wear a face covering unless exempt on public transport, in shops, tourist attractions, cinemas and pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés, when not at your table. Remember to wash or sanitise your hands regularly too.
Pay by contactless card - most businesses prefer not to take cash right now.
Follow any guidance and restrictions in place in local shops and services.
Remember to meet with others outdoors if you can, ensure there is good ventilation indoors, take up the offer of a vaccine if eligible and carry out regular lateral flow tests if you have no symptoms.
Keep up-to-date with the COVID-19 situation locally on the NHS Orkney Facebook page.
- What should I do if I start to suffer symptoms of COVID-19 when I’m in Orkney?
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms in Orkney or record a postitive lateral flow test, you should self-isolate with your household immediately. You and all members of your household should arrange a PCR test.
The local COVID Assessment Centre can be found at the Old Balfour Hospital off New Scapa Road in Kirkwall and is open Monday to Friday, 0830-1700, and between 0830-1300 at the weekend.
Patients with COVID symptoms or who suspect they might be positive can go to the centre for a self-testing PCR kit which can be carried out in your car and handed back for processing. Full instructions will be given. The drive-thru self-testing service will be available from:
- Monday – Friday: 0900 – 1400
- Saturday & Sunday: 1100 – 1300
For patients who cannot drive to the centre, have additional needs or have concerns about their dexterity and require a staff member to perform the test, a time slot will need to be booked by phoning 0300 303 9545.
Additional staff are available outwith these times to provide urgent testing if required. Any COVID-related queries should be directed to 0300 303 9545. Visit the NHS Orkney website for more information.
If you are unsure or your symptoms worsen please call NHS24 on 111 for advice or guidance or visit the NHS Inform website.
- Where can I find information about transport options for visiting Orkney?
Find out more on our travel advice page.
Remember, please don’t travel to Orkney without confirmed travel and accommodation bookings.
- Is there anywhere I can find travel and tourism information in Orkney?
The VisitScotland iCentre in Kirkwall is open.
- Can I travel within Orkney?
Loganair’s inter-isles flights are operating too.
Passengers are reminded that face coverings should be worn on all public transport in Orkney, unless exemptions apply.
- Are there things to see and do in Orkney at the moment?
At the moment, in line with Scottish Government guidelines, some of Orkney’s visitor attractions remain closed. This includes Maeshowe, but Skara Brae is open. Tickets for the site can be booked online. However, a number of sites are open - find out more via our dedicated page.
Please check with dedicated websites and social media profiles before planning a visit. Please understand too that some attractions may not open with the same offering as normal.
Our natural environment - including beaches, coastal trails and viewpoints – is always open and provides the ideal opportunity to see the best of Orkney, with plenty of scope for physical distancing. Our new walking section contains downloadable maps and guides to a number of routes across the islands.
- Are public toilets open?
Orkney Islands Council has re-opened the majority of its public toilets. Take a look at our map for exact locations.
- Are there any campsites open in Orkney?
Orkney’s publicly-run campsites are open. Find out more from the Orkney Islands Council website.
The Orkney Caravan Park at the Pickaquoy Centre is open.
A new facility, Kirkwall Bay Touring Park, opened this year too. Find out more on the official website.
Some of these sites open on a seasonal basis however, so do check in advance before planning your trip.
If there is anything else you'd like to know then get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or contact us at email@example.com and we'll do our best to help. If you have an accommodation-related query, contact Destination Orkney via firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about transport should be directed to the relevant provider.