COVID-19/Coronavirus - urgent appeal to visitors

Given the seriousness of the global situation with COVID-19, and the potential impact on our community, its health services and resources, we are now actively discouraging visits to Orkney.

Although we know that visiting the islands at a time of such uncertainty could be very appealing, we strongly urge you to follow Government advice to stay at home and minimise non-essential travel.

If you have booked a holiday to Orkney over the next few months, we fully understand you will be disappointed. However, as with the rest of the UK, most of our local visitor attractions are now closed, along with pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities. Equally, our events calendar for the foreseeable future has been significantly impacted by cancellations.

The Scottish Government has also advised ferry companies across the country that sailings should only be for island residents and those who have a need to travel for essential supplies or business. That guidance applies to Orkney, and both NorthLink Ferries and Pentland Ferries are following it. It's advised that visitors to the islands should leave as soon as possible too.

From 29 March, Kirkwall Airports will be closed to scheduled flights and routine general aviation traffic. Lifeline and essential services, including NHS passenger transfers, the Royal Mail and the oil and gas industry, will continue.

As an island community, our healthcare systems, social services, shops and supermarkets are facing a serious challenge at the moment and we must do all we can to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on Orkney.

Please stay at home.

We appreciate your understanding at this difficult time and look forward to welcoming you when this unprecedented crisis has passed.

In the meantime, we’ll do our best to share all that’s wonderful about Orkney through our social media channels.

Event/attraction information

The 2020 Orkney Folk Festival has been postponed until 27-30 May 2021.

The 2020 St Magnus International Festival has been postponed until 2021.

VisitScotland's iCentre in Kirkwall is currently closed in line with Government advice until further notice. Enquiries are being answered by email at

Highland Park Distillery's visitor experience has been closed until further notice. The Highland Park store on Albert Street in Kirkwall currently remains open.

Historic Environment Scotland has closed all its staffed historic sites in the country, including Skara Brae and Maeshowe in Orkney, with effect from 18th March at 5pm until further notice. Its seasonal sites, including the Earl's and Bishop's Palaces in Kirkwall and the Hackness Martello Tower in South Walls, will not be opening as scheduled in April. Unstaffed sites, such as the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, remain open and free to access.

The Orkney Fossil & Heritage Centre is postponing its opening date of 10th April until further notice.

Tomb of the Eagles is closed until further notice.

The Pier Arts Centre will be closed from 18 March onwards. Staff will be available on-site by appointment until 5pm on 20 March. Other enquiries can be directed through

The Orkney Distillery Visitor Centre and Cafe/Bar in Kirkwall has been closed until further notice.

All Orkney Island Council-run leisure, cultural and library facilities, including the Pickaquoy Centre, the Orkney Museum, Corrigall Farm Museum, Kirbuster Museum, and the Scapa Flow exhibition at Lyness, (including guided walks around the Lyness Wartime Trail), will close to the public from 5pm on 20 March until further notice.

St Magnus Cathedral is closed.

Orkney Brewery's cafe, tours and tastings are closed, but the brewery shop is currently open daily between 10 am and 4:30 pm.

The 2020 Orkney Nature Festival has been cancelled.

The 2020 Orkney Rugby Sevens has been postponed.

The Ness of Brodgar excavations in 2020 have been cancelled.

The Stromness Museum is closed until further notice.

There is a revised public bus service operating in Orkney during the Coronavirus situation - view the timetables via the Orkney Islands Council website.

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