Polling: Scots more sympathetic to EU citizens.By STV News
23 Jul 2020 6:06 am
More than 70% of Scots have become more sympathetic to European citizens living in the UK since the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.
Polling by new pro-European campaign group eu+me also shows two-thirds say they would welcome more EU citizens to make their home here in these circumstances.
The survey found that 71% of those polled in Scotland, and 68% of respondents in the UK and 71%, say they are more sympathetic to people from the EU who have this country as their home after the outbreak struck.
A total of 63% agree that the UK will need more people from the EU to live and work here as a result of Covid-19.
Fergus Mutch, group director, said: “These figures sink the claims made by the UK Government that people want to see an end to free movement.
“The coronavirus pandemic has changed so much about how people see our place in the world, and our relationship with our closest neighbours.
“The UK’s economy has taken a hammering in the past few months.
“If we want to give ourselves the best chance of rebuilding society in the wake of the pandemic then welcoming people with the right skills from the EU to live and work here is absolutely critical.
“EU citizens are our friends, our family and our colleagues.
“They hold together our NHS and care sector, they are integral to the success of key industries, they exchange knowledge, ideas and drive progress in our universities and we depend on them heavily in the agriculture and hospitality sectors.”
eu+me was launched on Wednesday as a grassroots campaign to rejoin the EU and is not aligned with any political party.
The Scotland-wide sample size was 1,127 people while for the rest of the UK it was 1,022.
SWNS ScotRail: The firm is set to resume at least 90% of services from Monday.By Jenness Mitchell
29 Jul 2020 6:36 am
ScotRail is set to resume at least 90% of its services from Monday.
The increase comes ahead of the anticipated reopening of schools in Scotland from August 11, with demand for more trains expected.
All routes will have normal early morning, late night, and peak services.
ScotRail said 100% of normal capacity will be provided during peak travel hours, however many seats will need to remain empty to maintain physical distancing.
Commuters are still being urged to consider other travel options including walking and cycling to free up space for those who must use the train.
Face coverings are mandatory at stations and on trains, and anyone who feels ill or has a temperature should not travel.
Due to the suspension of driver training during lockdown. ScotRail said it is not yet possible to return to a full service.
David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said: “Thanks to the hard work of staff across Scotland’s railway, we’ll operate as close to a normal timetable as possible from Monday, August 3.
“Like businesses across the world, we continue to face challenges caused by coronavirus but we will have every available train in service from August 3.
“We do need everybody to continue taking personal responsibility for their travel choices because physical distancing can’t be guaranteed.
“Customers who do travel with ScotRail should follow our five rules for safer travel, including the wearing of a face covering on trains and at stations.”
- Do not travel if you feel unwell or have a temperature.
- Travel away from the main commuting times (7am-9am and 4pm-6.30pm) wherever possible, as trains will be busiest around then. The earliest and latest trains serve key workers, like NHS and care home staff.
- If you think it’s not safe to board a train, don’t do it and wait for another service.
- Wear a face mask or covering and, where possible, maintain physical distancing.
- Be patient. You might not be able to board your first choice of train, as physical distancing means most seats need to be left empty.
Pixabay Coronavirus: The fight to stop the spread of the deadly disease goes on.By STV News
29 Jul 2020 6:56 am
Scientists have been given £4.3m to investigate why people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are more likely to die from Covid-19, and find ways to mitigate the disproportionate death rate.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have funded six new research projects that will examine the link between coronavirus and ethnicity.
Emerging evidence suggests BAME people are nearly twice as likely to die of Covid-19 than those who are white, after taking into account the age of the individuals and other sociodemographic factors.
One of the projects will explore the impact of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, specifically on migrant and refugee groups, while another will look for ways to create targeted, digital health messages with help from key voices within BAME communities.
Meanwhile, the £2.1m UK-Reach project, which received the largest proportion of the fund, will calculate the risk of contracting and dying from Covid-19 for ethnic minority healthcare workers.
Led by Dr Manish Pareek, an honorary consultant at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the project will also follow a group of these healthcare workers over the next 12 months to assess their physical and mental health.
Dr Pareek said: Globally, we have evidence that people from BAME backgrounds have a higher chance of going to intensive care and dying from Covid-19 – this may also be the case for healthcare staff.
“Our study is the first to be conducted on a large scale, investigating why BAME healthcare workers could be at greater risk.”
One of the research projects will also seek to determine the risk of infection and death from Covid-19 in individual ethnicity groups, combining more than 40 million patient GP records in England to create one of the largest Covid-19 cohorts in the UK.
Another project will use data from the UK Biobank, which contains biomedical information of 500,000 individuals, to examine whether the increased risk of developing severe Covid-19 in minority ethnic groups can be explained by differences in health status, lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity, and environmental factors such as social inequality.
And the final research project, led by Professor Shaun Treweek from the University of Aberdeen, aims to help enable the designers of clinical trials to consider the factors that may reduce the inclusion of BAME participants, such as culture, or trial information and procedures.
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England and head of the NIHR, said: “With evidence showing that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are more severely affected by Covid-19, it is critical that we understand what factors are driving this risk to address them effectively.
“The diverse range of projects funded by the NIHR and UKRI will help examine this association in detail, so that new treatments and approaches to care can be developed to target the ethnicities most at risk.
“This research will have embedded patient and public involvement with black, Asian and minority ethnic groups at all stages of the research.”
Getty Images Shopping: Retailers across Scotland lost £1.9bn of sales during lockdown.By STV News
29 Jul 2020 7:04 am
Retailers across Scotland lost £1.9bn of sales during the first four months of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study.
The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) analysis, based on its own and Scottish Government data, shows four successive months of double-digit decline between March and June.
Figures from 2018 estimate sales over that four-month period were £7.65bn and there has been a drop worth more than £1.9bn in 2020.
SRC director David Lonsdale said: “These figures are stark and show that retail sales crumbled over the first four months of the pandemic.
“Not all retail sub-sectors were impacted equally, with fashion, clothing and footwear faring particularly poorly.
“Shops and retail jobs depend on the ongoing patronage of the public and whilst the situation is gradually improving, it remains particularly acute in our city centres where stores are suffering huge drops in footfall.”
He added: “Any prolonged absence of office workers, students and tourists from Scotland’s city centres will be hugely challenging for retail and hospitality businesses who rely on their custom, and who often already face high property costs.
“This will have consequences for jobs, vacant premises, and tax revenues.”
Scottish retail sales improved in June compared with recent months but were still down almost a fifth on the same period last year.
They also lagged behind the UK as a whole.
Non-essential shops in Scotland were permitted to reopen from June 29, with stores in shopping centres allowed to reopen from July 13.
SRC figures show April – the first full month of lockdown – as having the greatest drop in sales at 40%, which the organisation estimates is worth £740m.
Pixabay Culling: The closed season is due to come to an end on Friday.By STV News
29 Jul 2020 6:45 am
Animal campaigners have raised concerns about the possible “unjustified killing” of mountain hares before they are given new protected status.
Legislation passed by Holyrood in June will give the animals more safeguarding but with this yet to come into force, supporters are concerned culling will still take place.
The closed season, during which culling of mountain hares is forbidden, is due to come to an end on Friday.
Liz Ferrell, chairwoman of Scottish Environment LINK’s Wildlife Crime Group, said there is now a “legitimate concern that a pre-emptive killing of this species could take place”.
The group is now calling for this year’s closed season to be extended to prevent any “unjustified killing” of the animals – which are classed as a priority species under Scotland’s Biodiversity Action Plan.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has already said the open season – during which the animals can be killed – is expected to start as normal on August 1.
BASC Scotland director Dr Colin Shedden said: “It is entirely appropriate for the mountain hare open season to continue until a workable licensing scheme comes into force.”
Campaigners say some 26,000 of the animals can die each year in hare cullings, which they claim often take place on grouse moors.
When the species was given protected status in June, gamekeepers branded it a “grave mistake”.
Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, said: “This is a bad law made by people it will not impact upon.”
But Ms Ferrell said the change – which was passed with the support of SNP and Green MSPs – is an “important step in tackling wildlife crime in Scotland”.
The legislation was changed after rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon announced the Scottish Government will back an amendment from Greens co-leader Alison Johnstone to the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill to give mountain hares protected status.
It came after more than 22,000 people singed a petition in support of the measure.
Ms Ferrell said: “The elevation of mountain hares to protected species status in Scotland was necessary to safeguard their dwindling populations but there is legitimate concern that pre-emptive killing of this species could take place during this year before their new protections come into force.
“The Wildlife Crime Group members therefore urge the use of existing powers held by the police to extend the closed season for mountain hare culling to prevent any unjustified killing.”
Reopening: National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.By STV News
29 Jul 2020 7:31 am
Reopening dates for National Museums Scotland venues have been announced after months of lockdown closures.
The National Museum of Flight in East Lothian will open on Wednesday, August 5, the National Museum of Rural Life in East Kilbride from Wednesday, August 12, and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from Wednesday, August 19.
Visitors to the museums will have to pre-book, while enhanced cleaning, sneeze screens, hand sanitising stations and one-way routes have been put in place.
The reopening of the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle will be announced at a later date in collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland and the opening of the other internal spaces at the historic site.
Chris Breward, director of National Museums Scotland, said: “We’ve missed our visitors and are thrilled to be welcoming them back to our museums.
“We have enjoyed creating a vibrant digital experience during closure but nothing compares with that exhilarating feeling which comes from encountering real objects in our unique buildings.
“It has been a difficult time for so many and we know our museums have a vital role to play in people’s lives – as places to enjoy time with family and friends, promoting well-being and offering inspiration through our wonderful collections.”
He added: “The safety of our staff and visitors is paramount and everyone can feel confident that we have been working incredibly hard across all of our sites to ensure their visit will be both safe and enjoyable.
“Things may feel a little different when you visit but we are still here – your much-loved museums – with a few additional measures to keep you safe.”
All museums will operate their normal opening hours except for the National Museum of Scotland, which will open from 10.30am until 4.30pm.
By Dan Vevers
28 Jul 2020 1:18 pm
Nicola Sturgeon has warned she wouldn’t personally book an overseas holiday at present amid “a worrying resurgence of Covid cases” in Europe.
She said quarantine measures could be reimposed on countries at short notice if coronavirus cases spike.
It comes after 14-day quarantine for holidaymakers returning from Spain was reinstated at the weekend just days after the policy had been lifted.
The list of countries with which Scotland has so-called “air bridges” with – which means quarantine-free travel is allowed – is under continual review.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday, the First Minister said she is “increasingly concerned” about new outbreaks in some European countries including Spain.
She told Scots planning foreign holidays that they cannot assume quarantine rules will stay the same in the run-up to or during their trips.
The First Minister was echoing earlier comments from Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said the UK had to stay “vigilant” against the threat of a second wave of Covid-19.
Speaking in Nottingham on Tuesday, the PM said there is evidence the virus is starting “to bubble up again” in other European countries.
“Clearly we now face, I’m afraid, the threat of a second wave in other parts of Europe and we just have to be vigilant and we have to be very mindful,” Johnson said.
Sturgeon said that globally, the coronavirus pandemic is “still accelerating” even while Scotland reported no deaths of people with the virus for the 12th day in a row.
There are four new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Scotland, which constitute 0.1% of those tested in the last 24-hour period.
A total of 264 Covid patients are in hospital, six fewer than Monday, with just two being treated in intensive care.
The FM said that as the virus continues to be suppressed in Scotland, care should be taken to avoid importing cases from abroad.
She said: “I remain highly concerned, possibly increasingly concerned again, about the Covid risk.
“We are currently seeing a worrying resurgence of Covid cases, not just in far away parts of the world, but also in several countries across Europe right now.”
Parts of Belgium and Spain, along with Germany and France, have seen recent outbreaks of coronavirus, Sturgeon said.
She warned those planning overseas holidays to be aware that quarantine regulations could be reimposed while they are away – and that the countries they visit could also impose their own rules.
The First Minister added: “You cannot assume the rules applying to your destination will stay the same when you are there or be the same when you travel home.
“My advice to you remains to be very cautious about non-essential foreign travel at this time.”
She said she would not personally want to book a foreign holiday at the moment, and suggested instead going for a “staycation” in Scotland would be safer and also benefit the country’s tourism industry.
By STV News
28 Jul 2020 1:31 pm
Hospitality venues could be closed down if “slipping standards” on Covid-19 measures lead to outbreaks of the virus, the First Minister says.
She made the warning as she announced another four positive cases in Scotland, bringing the total over the course of the pandemic to 18,558.
No deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours, meaning the total number of fatalities including presumed Covid deaths remains at 4193.
But Nicola Sturgeon said is likely to adopt a “very cautious approach” to easing lockdown when it reviews the measures on Thursday.
She warned there is a “worrying resurgence” of Covid cases globally and stressed the hospitality sector in Scotland must ensure it is adhering to guidelines put in place.
While most businesses are following the rules, including mandating face coverings for staff, maintaining cleanliness and collecting contact details from customers, she said she had heard anecdotally that some have not.
A further document has been distributed to venues to ensure they are fully aware of their responsibilities.
Sturgeon said: “If we do start to see outbreaks linked to the hospitality sector, we would need to take action and that could include closing premises down again.
“Nobody wants to see that happen.”
The First Minister added the standards “must become the norm” and “you cannot allow standards to slip”.
Sturgeon advised customers who are aware that venues are not following social distancing regulations to go elsewhere.
She also announced a new pharmacy service – NHS Pharmacy First Scotland – which will replace the minor ailment service.
The FM said the first port of call for people suffering non-coronavirus symptoms will be their community pharmacist.
While the minor ailment service was only available to certain groups of people, Sturgeon said the new initiative will be available to all Scots.
Addressing her visit on Monday to the NHS Louisa Jordan in Glasgow, which was set-up originally to treat Covid-19 patients, the First Minister said the site would be kept open until winter in case of a second wave of coronavirus.
The number of people being seen there as part of the pilot will now be expanded, Sturgeon said, offering a range of services including orthopaedic, plastic surgery, X-rays and other diagnostics.
Appearing alongside the FM, education secretary John Swinney spoke ahead of the final decision later this week on reopening schools.
Swinney said “we should be confident” schools will be able to reopen on August 11.
Schools: Surveillance testing.By STV News
28 Jul 2020 4:02 pm
Surveillance testing for coronavirus in schools will provide “an extra level of assurance”, the education secretary has said.
John Swinney said the testing will be in addition to routine contact tracing via the Test and Protect system.
He promised parents and teachers there will be “extensive” surveillance testing to gather information about the spread of the virus.
“I know how important it is for parents to feel reassured that schools will be safe for their children, as well as places to learn and flourish,” he said.
“It is an extra level of assurance we are putting into the system to enable us to reassure parents and staff and pupils about the safety of being in the education system.”
A decision will be made on Wednesday about whether youngsters will return to classes full-time from August 11.
With parliament having to be informed first, parents, children and school staff will not find out what is happening until Thursday.
The Education Recovery Group set up by the Scottish Government has meanwhile agreed guidance that “can enable schools to reopen safely on a full-time basis from August 11”, Swinney said.
This guidance will be published on Thursday, after Sturgeon’s statement.
Swinney, who was speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, said: “I believe at this point we should be confident that our schools can reopen safely and our children can return to learning with their peers and teachers in school.”
The Scottish Government has already announced £50m of funding to allow schools to take on more teachers and support staff.
The education secretary said this cash will “bolster support for children and young people as they return to face education, mitigate for learning lost due to impact of Covid-19 and support closing the attainment gap”.
He has also promised councils £20m of funding, which will be “immediately available” to help with the logistics of reopening schools, such as taking on additional cleaning staff and buying personal protective equipment.
Edinburgh & East
By Jenness Mitchell
28 Jul 2020 5:46 pm
By Jenness Mitchell & Susan Ripoll
A human rights lawyer who fled the Congo for her own safety is now fearing for her family’s lives in Scotland due to racially-motivated attacks.
Debora Kayembe, who left Africa for the UK more than 15 years ago, has had her car tyres slashed and damaged with nails.
The single mum-of-two also said a racist mob chanted “go home” outside her house in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian.
Ms Kayembe, who sits on the board of directors for the Scottish Refugee Council, said the ordeal has been so severe, her family was forced to move to a new house in a bid to escape the abusers.
She told STV News she was “afraid like hell” but would be going “nowhere”.
She said: “Boom, boom boom on my front door. ‘Go home, go home, go home’.
“I open the door and I say ‘I’m not going anywhere’.”
Ms Kayembe had to be comforted by a neighbour who came to her aid.
She has since vowed not to give up the fight against racists.
Family: Ms Kayembe with her daughter.
Ms Kayembe, who in 2019 became the first female African to have her portrait hung in The Royal Society of Edinburgh, said people in Scotland need to “stop lying” to themselves if they believe there’s no issue with racism in the country.
The dedicated campaigner and activist said Scots need to stand up and speak out.
She said: “If our society is Scotland, we’re saying we’re against homophobia, against racism.
“And when it happens, we come and we scream out from our mouths ‘we do not want any racism in Scotland’ and we tackle it. [Then] this kind of situation will never happen again.”
Police confirmed they are investigating vandalism to Ms Kayembe’s car.
A force spokesperson said: “We can confirm police received a report on Friday, July 24, from a woman in Dobbie’s Road, Bonnyrigg, regarding damage caused to the tyres on her car.
“Officers are currently looking into this vandalism and enquiries are ongoing.”