Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman has apologised for flouting UK lockdown rules after travelling 11,000 miles from New Zealand to his home on Skye
In a blog entry published on Monday night entitled ‘An Extremely Apologetic Post,’ Mr Gaiman wrote: “So. I did something stupid. I’m really sorry.
“The last blog I wrote, about how I had been here for almost three weeks, turned into news – and not in a good way. Man Flies 12,000 Miles to Defy Lockdown sort of news. And I’ve managed to mess things up in Skye, which is the place I love most in the world.”
Mr. Gaiman, whose notable works include Coraline, Stardust, and American Gods, revealed last Thursday (14th May) via his blog that he had travelled from Auckland to London via Los Angeles before driving to his property on Skye in a car lent to him by a friend in London.
The multi-award-winning writer described his journey to Skye from New Zealand as “surreal,” adding that it was also “emotionally hard” as he and his wife Amanda had found themselves in a rough place immediately before he left.
Assessing his actions he wrote: “Because like so many other people, my home life and work had been turned upside down by the Covid-19 lockdowns. I was panicked, more than a little overwhelmed and stuck in New Zealand…”
Mr Gaiman said he visited the UK Government website to figure out what to do.
He explained: “I’ve been living in the UK since 2017, and all of my upcoming work is here – so ‘you are strongly advised to return now’ looked like the most important message. I waited until New Zealand was done with its strict lockdown, and took the first flight out. (And yes, the flights and airports were socially distanced, and, for the most part, deserted.)
“When I landed the whole of the UK was under lockdown rules. I drove directly to my home in the UK, which is on Skye. I came straight here, and I’ve been in isolation here ever since.”
The English-born author said that despite contravening the lockdown rules both the police and the local community had been considerate towards him since he publicised his journey.
He wrote: “I got to chat to some local police officers yesterday, who said all things considered I should have stayed where I was safe in New Zealand, and I agreed that yes, all things considered, I should. Mostly they wanted to be sure I was all right and had been isolating, and that I would keep isolating here until the lockdown ends, and to make sure I knew the rules. Like all the locals who have reached out to me, they’ve been astonishingly kind.”
Police Inspector for the Skye and Lochalsh area, Lynda Allan told the Free Press: “In relation to Mr Neil Gaiman, I can confirm that officers have visited the gentleman and spoken to him about his actions. He has been given suitable advice about essential travel and reminded about the current guidelines in Scotland.
“Police Scotland have consistently highlighted that the powers provided to help keep people safe and protect the NHS safe are exceptional in what are truly exceptional circumstances. These powers reach into a person’s personal life such as we have never encountered before and quite rightly from a human rights perspective, there needs to be appropriate consideration, balance, and a sensible discharge of the same.”
Under the powers conferred by the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, officers are being asked to use the four Es:
Engage: ask whether an individual is aware of the government request; establish individual circumstances and how quickly someone can comply.
Explain: the risks to public health, and to the NHS in line with government guidance.
Encourage: voluntary compliance.
Enforce: if faced with non-compliance and only as a last resort.
Last month, the Free Press reported that 90 fixed penalty notices had been issued and four arrests made in the Highlands since the emergency coronavirus powers came into force on 27th March.