Rathlin Island: A British island without cases of coronavirus

Rathlin Island: A British island without cases of coronavirus

No shopping trips, no nightclubs, no cinemas. The national lockout felt different for most of us.

But on Rothlin Island, a little L-shaped land off the coast of Northern Ireland, they are used to it.

Although there were no cases of coronavirus, Rathlin went into lockout in March.

“It’s definitely a slowdown here,” 18-year-old La Rlag told Radio 1 News Zebit.

She is one of about 150 people who actually live on Rathlin Island, and she only works in its pubs.

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McQueen’s is the only place on the island to get a pair of pants

“We have a post office and a gift shop. Then there’s a marine museum with items found in shipwrecks.

Orlag stopped offering the rest of the island.

“One hotel, some hostels.

“And a lot of people come to see the bird sanctuary.”

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Orlag Cecil

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La Rlage spent some lockdown to help her boyfriend on the sheep farm

When he was in primary school, there was only one teacher.

But no worries about overcrowded classes, there were only three students in the whole school at that time.

“There are seventeen children in school now,” she tells me incredulously.

“The teacher has to manage them all so that’s enough.”

There is no secondary school on the island. Twice a day, instead of approaching the boat, Orlag went to Belfast’s boarding school.

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Google Maps

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The red pin indicates that Rathlin Island sits in relation to mainland Northern Ireland and Scotland.

“I know what the city is like because I went to school there. But I don’t think I’m missing being here, it’s very different.”

From Bailey Castle to Rathlin’s boat, you can quickly see why the island is so attractive to tourists.

The uninterrupted view is a haven for wildlife.

Forget floating coke cans, if you are lucky you will be able to see dolphins in the sea around the island.

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Tom McDonnell / North Coast Nature

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The dolphin was caught diving into the sea off the coast of Rathlin

But the main difference between Rathlin Island and the rest of the UK at the moment is that there have been no coronavirus cases.

“We closed back in March.

“At first they reduced the boat’s schedule, but then they stopped it altogether.”

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Ferries operate in limited numbers per day to mainland Northern Ireland

The ferry is the only route from Rathlin to the mainland UK, so shutting it down completely was a big decision.

“Everything for food, nurses and posts could come.”

There is a district nurse on the island who lives here, and can be reached by phone. There is no hospital or doctor’s surgery.

It opened to visitors in July, due to social distances, although not many came.

Orlag says some residents were reluctant to reopen the island.

“Some people are still defending, they’re still nervous and they don’t want to mix with anyone.”

Although Rathlin residents have avoided being physically infected by the coronavirus, the island has been severely affected.

Usually on a sunny day like today, it will erupt with tourists.

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The island is only six miles long, and one mile wide

La ralag tells me summer heat is usually mental.

“We have hundreds of visitors every day.”

Kieran moved to the island four years ago and says it has been “warm and full of visitors” ever since.

“I enjoyed being locked up. It was once a little quieter and calmer. I’m quite satisfied.”

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Kiran Lock

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Kieran lives with his girlfriend and two dogs

Kieran has not been out of the island all year. He works as a cleaner at the McQueen Bar.

He says: “Covid has taken a share of our profits, so we have to see how we are going through the winter.

“It would be a shame if something happened to the bar because – well, this is our only bar.”

Like many businesses out there, McQueen relies on a busy summer to get busy in the winter.

“It’s been a difficult year for everyone,” he said.

“The bar is just working out, and it depends on the weather. No one wants to sit outside on a rainy day.”

Orlag says it was important to prioritize the health of the islanders.

“We have only one district nurse, no hospital. If he had to stop the transmission of the virus, it would be a huge process.

As some of the island’s businesses are closing again, some felt that restrictions on distance and cleanliness meant it would not be eligible for this year.

La Rlag says: “We have to bounce back, but it will take a long time.”

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Cory Weinberg

About the author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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