Neil Gaiman has apologised to “everyone on the island” of Skye after he was spoken to by local police for travelling more than 11,000 miles from New Zealand to his home there, in breach of Scotland’s lockdown rules.
Gaiman, the author of the Sandman comics, Coraline and American Gods, left New Zealand at the start of May, writing on his blog that he and his wife Amanda Palmer had “found ourselves in a rough place” and “needed to give each other some space, which had been in very short supply in lockdown in New Zealand”. He departed when the country moved into “level three” of its lockdown, and flew “masked and gloved” to London before driving to Skye.
But Scottish lockdown rules allow only essential journeys, and on Monday Police Scotland inspector Linda Allan said that the author had been visited by officers, who had spoken to him about his actions.
“He has been given suitable advice about essential travel and reminded about the current guidelines in Scotland,” she said.
Writing on Monday evening, Gaiman said he had made a mistake in travelling, and told islanders he was really sorry. “I also want to thank and apologise to the local police, who had better things to do than check up on me. I’m sure I’ve done sillier things in my life, but this is the most foolish thing I’ve done in quite a while,” wrote the author, saying that he made the decision to leave because his “home life and work had been turned upside down by the Covid-19 lockdowns”, and he felt “panicked, more than a little overwhelmed and stuck in New Zealand.
“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,” he said. “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.”
He urged others not to follow his lead. “Since I got here, Skye has had its own tragic Covid outbreak – 10 deaths in a local care home. It’s not set up to handle things like this, and all the local resources are needed to look after the local community. So, yes. I made a mistake. Don’t do what I did. Don’t come to the Highlands and Islands unless you have to,” he wrote.