Guernsey Press

Sark eager for the return of visitors as lockdown eases

SARK will welcome Bailiwick visitors back with open arms when the exit from lockdown reaches stage three.

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Return of the good times? Sarkfest was last held in 2019 and is due to be back in July. (Picture by Sue Daly)

The island’s hospitality businesses and organisers of major events are both planning for summer.

Next Monday, 22 March, has been given as a provisional date for relaxing lockdown restrictions.

‘Sark will open up when Guernsey moves to stage three,’ said Zannette Bougourd, Sark chief secretary.

‘It’s a provisional date, but the ferries will restart sailings the weekend after stage three begins.’

Sark’s 14-day self-isolation policy will fall away at that time as the Bailiwick bubble returns.

‘We hope people will come over when that happens, it works two ways too as we are all desperate to do our shopping.’

Avenue Cycles manager and Jimmy’s Carting & Garden Services owner, Jimmy Martin, said: ‘My phone’s been going non-stop. The other morning it woke me up pinging with people booking their bikes at 6.30am. I’d say the preparations are going well.’

Whether the Bailiwick bubble will return on the current schedule is the big question on everyone’s minds, Mr Martin said.

‘I think it’s going to be pretty much the same as last year, Sark got absolutely rattled last year. From the day we could bring passengers over I never stopped. This year we’ll be a wee bit better prepared, because we know more what will happen.’

La Sablonnerie owner Elizabeth Perree. (Picture supplied by Elizabeth Perree)

La Sablonnerie owner Elizabeth Perree said: ‘We are really looking forward to reopening and just want to make sure that everything is safe.’

With no hospital and some elderly residents safety was the prime priority.

‘We always want it to be a wonderful experience for our guests so everything has to be tickety boo. I feel Guernsey’s and Sark’s governments have both handled it all brilliantly in these challenging times, and it will be lovely to reopen as soon as we can.’

Stocks Hotel director Paul Armorgie said last year the support shown toward Sark and the hotel was amazing.

Bookings have opened from April and another busy season is being planned for.

Plenty of events are lined up to keep visitors entertained.

April and June will see sporting events with the Sark Triathlon and Sark 10.

Music and art will follow with Mermfest in May and Sarkfest in July.

Sarkfest 2021 co-organiser Mark Guillou said the festival will bring around 2,000 guests and musicians over for a weekend.

‘It’s all going swimmingly well,’ Mr Guillou said.

Sheep racing is due to return this summer.

‘Most ticket holders are very much based in the Bailiwick, but some of the original tickets from last year, which were honoured, are for people further afield. We have English and Jersey bands lined up, so we’re hoping they’ll be able to attend.’

Characteristic traditional events are planned in for July and August too, with the Sark sheep gala and race, hill climb and lawn mower racing.