Company creates first face masks for deaf community

Edinburgh-based Breathe Easy is making masks which allow lip-reading after successful trials.

Credit: Breathe Easy
Credit: Breathe Easy

An Edinburgh company is making the first face masks for the deaf community which enable sight of mouth for lip-reading.

Breathe Easy, created by Gavin McAdam, has been inundated with orders for the products after trialling the prototypes in early April.

The masks include a plastic insert which allow for lip-reading.

The company is creating around 200 masks a day and 5,000 have already been distributed free to those in need.

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Plans are already in place to increase production.

Mr McAdam took over the rental of a tailoring workshop in Newington and now has a staff of seven, including three full-time seamstresses to cope with demand.

Working with Deaf Action Scotland, National Deaf Children’s Society (Scotland), Forth Valley Sensory Centre and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust, Breathe Easy has been supplying the organisations with the masks that allow sight of the mouth.

Mr McAdam said the initial plan was to manufacture quality fabric masks to front-line workers, those at risk, vulnerable groups and anyone concerned for friends or family.

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He said: “While not medical grade, the masks are ideal for casual use and provide a barrier which brings a real source of comfort for many people worried about contracting coronavirus while out in public.

“I was keen to produce something to help the deaf community and the designs have been well received.

“The thicker material works well for these masks as it is more structured and is better for holding the plastic in place.

“The masks are all washable and will be as good in six months’ time as they are on day one. We also have a variety of designs to suit all tastes.”

The company is creating customised and branded masks, with the logos of football teams, companies and charities.

Other charities such as Steps to Hope, Visualise Scotland and Positive Pathways have also had masks donated.

Mr McAdam added: “I feel really quite excited about this project and am getting a lot out of trying to do good for people in these worrying times.

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“It is amazing how quickly things have progressed from a wee idea to where we are now.

“We just ask for donations for the masks destined for front-line, care sector workers and vulnerable groups and every penny we get goes to the production of more masks to help others and that is why we’re all enthused by this.

“Bliss Dancewear in Corstorphine is applying our branded logos and we have a couple of local taxi drivers delivering the masks for free so there is a real feeling of being in this together and doing what we can to help.”


Johnson: I’m standing by adviser Dominic Cummings

The Prime Minister said his adviser had acted 'responsibly and legally and with integrity' despite claims of lockdown breaches.

Boris Johnson has backed his top aide Dominic Cummings over reports he breached lockdown restrictions by travelling 260 miles from London to Durham.

The Prime Minister said he believed his adviser had acted “responsibly and legally and with integrity” amid a storm of controversy over the alleged lockdown breaches.

He said Mr Cummings had travelled north to his grandparents to seek care for his young child when his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms, an action the PM defended as following “the instincts of every father”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for Mr Cummings to resign, along with a number of Conservative MPs including the influential backbencher Steve Baker.

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But Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said the Prime Minister had now “reached a conclusion” on Mr Cummings’ fate and said the country should return its attention to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

It emerged Mr Cummings had travelled 260 miles to County Durham in March to self-isolate with his family while official guidelines warned against long-distance journeys.

Further reports over the weekend also suggested he took a second trip to the north-east of England in April, having already returned to work in London.

Mr Cummings denied the fresh allegations, which were reported by the Observer and the Sunday Mirror, and the PM referred to them as “palpably false”.

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Leading the UK Government coronavirus press briefing for the third time since being discharged from hospital on April 12, Johnson said he could “not mark down” Mr Cummings for the way he acted.

The PM said: “I have had extensive face-to-face conversations with Dominic Cummings and I have concluded that in travelling to find the right kind of childcare, at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by coronavirus – and when he had no alternative – I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent.

“And I do not mark him down for that.

“Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them palpably false, I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.”

But shortly before the Prime Minister took the briefing, the Scottish First Minister tweeted the “integrity of vital public health advice” was more important than losing an adviser.

Referencing the resignation of her former chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood for breaking lockdown rules, Sturgeon said: “I know it is tough to lose a trusted adviser at the height of crisis.

“But when it’s a choice of that or integrity of vital public health advice, the latter must come first.

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“That’s the judgment I and, to her credit, Catherine Calderwood reached.

“PM and Cummings should do likewise.”

However, weighing into the controversy for the first time, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives said Johnson had “reached a conclusion and we must all now focus on continuing to beat this dreadful pandemic”.

Jackson Carlaw said: “I’ve heard what the Prime Minister has said and it is a situation for him to judge.

“He has reached a conclusion and we must all now focus on continuing to beat this dreadful pandemic.

“I want the Prime Minister to be able to continue his excellent work leading the country out of lockdown and I am glad he set out his plans clearly today.

“Here in Scotland, our focus must be on tackling the ongoing crisis in our care homes and building a robust testing and tracing system.

“There are more worrying reports today that this is proving difficult, and the Scottish Conservative focus will be on challenging the Scottish Government and demanding that promises both to protect care homes and isolate the disease are kept.”

Clamour grew on Sunday for the PM to dispense with the adviser he credited with helping him to win a landslide at the general election last year.

A host of Tory MPs piled in to claim the 48-year-old’s position had become “untenable” after it was confirmed he journeyed to stay in a family property in Durham when official advice was to stay home.

Over the weekend, Number 10 admitted Mr Cummings had driven from his London home to the north-east in March after his wife started displaying Covid-19 symptoms, becoming fearful there would be no-one to look after his four-year-old child if he also took ill.

But according to reports, the former Vote Leave campaign co-ordinator made a second trip to Durham and was seen there on April 19 – five days after being photographed on his return to Westminster.

A second witness told the papers they saw him a week earlier in Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday, a popular tourist location 30 miles from Durham, during the period he was believed to be self-isolating.

The reports convinced Tory MP and former minister Steve Baker to break ranks and call for Mr Cummings to be dismissed.

The prominent figure in the Brexit campaign told Sky News: “I’m afraid I just think this is the end of the road.”

Other senior Tories, including Peter Bone and ex-immigration minister Caroline Nokes, also spoke out against Mr Cummings.

Man, 42, shot dead after attacker bursts into home

The man died at the scene in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, while a woman was also in the house.

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Ardrossan: Shooting on Nithsdale Road.

A 42-year-old man has died after being shot by an attacker who burst into a home in North Ayrshire.

A woman, 46, was also in the house in Nithsdale Road, Ardrossan, on Sunday when a man entered and fired what is believed to have been a firearm.

Officers were called to the property at around 4.50pm and discovered the 42-year-old with serious injuries, who died at the scene shortly after.

Police have launched a manhunt to track down the suspect, searching the area and viewing local CCTV.

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A 42-year-old man and 46-year-old woman were within a house in Nithsdale Road, Ardrossan when a man entered the house and discharged what is believed to be a firearm before leaving the house.

“The 42-year-old man was then found with serious injuries and died at the scene a short time later.

“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the exact circumstances of the incident and are currently searching the surrounding area for the suspect and viewing CCTV in the area.”

Coronavirus claims lives of nine more people in Scotland

A total of 2270 confirmed Covid-19 patients have died in Scotland, but including presumed deaths it is more than 3700.

Another nine people have died with coronavirus in Scotland.

It takes the death toll among confirmed Covid-19 patients to 2270, although counting presumed deaths the total is now more than 3700.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Sunday press briefing, health secretary Jeane Freeman highlighted that fewer deaths tend to be reported at weekends.

A total of 15,101 people have been diagnosed with the virus since the outbreak began, a rise of 60, while more than 100,000 Scots have now been tested overall by the NHS.

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There are 44 patients in intensive care with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a drop of six on the day before.

But patients with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms in hospital overall have increased by 24 to 1329.

Of those, 845 patients have tested positive for Covid-19, up four from 841 on Saturday.

Since the pandemic began, a total of 3560 people who had to be hospitalised with the virus have been able to go home.

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Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that from the end of next week, the Scottish Government’s four-phase plan to ease out of lockdown could begin.

That’s due to the trends in deaths, hospitalisations and cases generally going downwards, while the R number – the virus’ reproduction rate – is estimated to have been below one for three weeks.

Highlighting recent revelations around Boris Johnson’s top adviser Dominic Cummings, Freeman issued a reminder to everyone in Scotland about the rules around self-isolation.

She said the “message may have become confused in the last 24 hours because of events in other parts of the UK”.

Speaking on Sunday, the health secretary said self-isolating is not the same as lockdown and means “you should not leave the house for any reason”.

Freeman told the briefing: “Self-isolation means the following: if you think you have the virus, if you have a persistent cough, or a fever, or loss of taste and/or smell, you should self-isolate at home for a minimum of seven days.

“In that time you should get tested if you can, bearing in mind that testing is now open to anyone over the age of five who has symptoms.

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“At the same time anyone in your household should self-isolate for 14 days to see if they develop virus, and if they do, they should self-isolate for seven days from that point.

“From the eighth day, if you do not have any more symptoms you can go back, back to the lockdown measures that apply across the country.”

Police investigate deaths of three women at Skye care home

NHS Highland has stepped in to play a greater role in the facility after concerns were raised.

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Investigation: Home Farm Care Home in Skye.

Police are investigating the deaths of three women at a Skye care home at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak.

Ten residents have died at Home Farm Care Home in Portree, operated by private provider HC-One.

Officers have said they are looking into the circumstances of the deaths of three women, aged 84, 86 and 88, at the home.

NHS Highland has stepped in to play a greater role in running the facility after the Care Inspectorate took legal action against HC-One.

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Weekly inspections are to be carried out at the home before the “nuclear option” of suspending its registration is considered, it was agreed in court earlier this week.

It comes as health secretary Jeane Freeman said a review should be held into Scotland’s care home sector at some point in the future.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we are investigating the circumstances of the deaths of three women, aged 84, 86 and 88, at Home Farm Care Home on Skye. Inquiries are continuing.”

A HC-One spokeswoman said the company will fully cooperate with any investigations.

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She added: “We recognised that improvements were needed at Home Farm and therefore apologise to our residents, their families, and the local community.

“The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority and we have already made significant progress.”

Earlier this month, the Lord Advocate said all care home deaths from confirmed or suspected Covid-19 must be reported to the Crown.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The Crown’s reporting requirements in respect of Covid-related deaths allow for a multi-agency response, and for appropriate investigations to be made in light of the specific circumstances.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.”

Freeman faced questions over the coronavirus impact on Scotland’s care homes at the Scottish Government’s briefing on Sunday.

Asked whether a full-scale review of the sector is required, she said a review should be held into the structure and funding of the care home sector in Scotland – currently a mix of homes run by the private sector, charities, not-for-profit organisations and local authorities.

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She said: “I do believe that that is something that we need to look to as we go forward.

“Right now, of course, our focus is dealing on this pandemic but I think it has shone a light on a number of areas where there have been improvements we might want to hold onto and other areas where we might want to look for improvements in the future.”

Earlier, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the health secretary should “come clean” over the scale of discharging untested hospital patients into care homes.

Scottish Government delayed discharge figures indicated 921 patients were released from hospitals into care homes in March, but the minister did not announce mandatory testing of all new care home residents until April 21.

Leonard raised concerns over the figures when the health secretary previously suggested only around 300 people had been discharged to care homes.

She has since said the information was given in error and apologised.

He said: “The impact of coronavirus in Scotland’s care homes has been little short of horrifying and it is clear that discharging infected patients to care homes has played a key role in fanning the flames of this virus.

“The cabinet secretary owes it to the people of Scotland and the families of the residents and staff affected to come clean over the failure of the government to protect the most vulnerable.”

Freeman told the briefing the decision to release patients who were able to leave hospital to their own homes and care homes was made to ensure the NHS was not overwhelmed, saying: “I think that decision has to be judged as the correct one.”

She added: “As the First Minister has said I too – if I had known everything I know now had known then – then we may have made different decisions about whether or not every patient who is being discharged from hospital, who was a Covid patient, was tested to ensure that they were negative.

“What is the case is that they were discharged from hospital because they were clinically well.”

Sturgeon joins calls for top No 10 adviser to resign

The First Minister said the 'integrity' of public health advice is more important than losing an adviser.

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Dominic Cummings: Facing calls from Tory MPs to quit.

The First Minister has joined calls for the Prime Minister’s top adviser Dominic Cummings to quit over multiple reports he breached the lockdown.

Nicola Sturgeon referenced the resignation of her former chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood for breaking the rules, saying it is “tough to lose a trusted adviser” during the Covid-19 crisis.

But issuing her first statement about the controversy on Twitter, the FM added: “When it’s a choice of that or integrity of vital public health advice, the latter must come first.

“That’s the judgment I and, to her credit, Catherine Calderwood reached. PM and Cummings should do likewise.”

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It comes ahead of Downing Street’s announcement that Boris Johnson will take Sunday’s coronavirus press briefing on a day which has seen a number of Conservative MPs call for Cummings to lose his job.

Media reports over the weekend have accused the Prime Minister’s adviser of a second trip to Durham from London in April, following revelations of a first in March.

Downing Street has said the first trip, while his wife had coronavirus, was to get care from grandparents for their young child, while they have refuted the details of the second trip.

But backbench Tories, including prominent 1922 Committee member Steve Baker, said Mr Cummings “must go”.

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He told Sky: “It is very clear that Dominic travelled when everybody else understood Dominic’s slogans to mean ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’.”

Tweeting later on Sunday afternoon, the First Minister said: “I know it is tough to lose a trusted adviser at the height of crisis, but when it’s a choice of that or integrity of vital public health advice, the latter must come first.

“That’s the judgment I and, to her credit, Catherine Calderwood reached.

“PM and Cummings should do likewise.”

Calderwood was forced to leave her post after it emerged she had twice travelled with her family to a holiday home in Fife, despite being the public face of the Scottish Government’s “stay at home” lockdown message.

Young Scots’ fears of becoming pandemic’s collateral damage

STV News spoke to four young people about their worries over money and their career plans.

Economic impact: Young people speak out on their fears.

There is worry that the futures of a generation of young Scots are being lost amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. 

With many young people relying on low-paid work, and the expectation of a recession, many aged 16 to 25 fear they could become collateral damage.

A recent survey by the Prince’s Trust has found 69% of young Scots feel as if their life is on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The study delved into the feelings young people have been experiencing since lockdown began in March. 

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The findings showed four in ten young people don’t feel in control of their lives, significantly higher than findings from just five months ago

More than a quarter of 16 to 25-year olds in Scotland said their future career prospects have already been damaged and half believe it will be harder than ever to get a job. 

Meanwhile the study showed the mental health of Scotland’s young people has also been affected.

As many as 40% feel their anxiety levels have increased and 30% say they are overwhelmed by feelings of panic and anxiety on a daily basis.

Fears of a lost generation

Ben studies music at Aberdeen University.
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Ben is a 20-year-old music student in his third year at Aberdeen University.

He usually teaches saxophone in his spare time, but lessons have dried up after initially moving online when lockdown began. 

With summer jobs looking scarce and his student loan coming to an end until next term, he’s concerned about income: 

Ben said: “I’m looking a bit in despair at my bank balance at the moment because all my bills are coming in over the next two months.

“Of course my SAAS has now stopped and there’s no money coming in which I would have expected through summer jobs. I’m left a bit dry at the moment. 

“University students are very much being left out of the provision that’s been arranged. We’re not allowed to claim universal credit or for any other unemployment. 

“As a student you tend to make most of our money for the whole year over the summer months and we can’t get any support on that as its seasonal work. So yeah, I’m very worried.”

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For young people living alone, the last two months have been tough.

Beauty therapy student Goisa: ‘I don’t know if I’ll get a summer job.’

Beauty therapy student Goisa, aged 20, has spent most of the lockdown alone in her Dunoon flat. 

She’s been keeping herself occupied by completing college assignments. Like many of her fellow students she’s been wondering how best to make ends meet. 

She said: “I get my money from college and I claim universal credit, but because of the circumstances I’m only receiving half of my college payment as it includes my travel.  

“I’m coping okay just now, but when college is finished I won’t receive that payment anymore so I won’t have as much money.

“It’s worrying because I don’t know if I’ll be able to get a summer job to plug the gap because of lockdown. I’ll probably struggle with that a little bit.”

Zuza: ‘There’s an extra wall now between me and my dream job.’

22-year-old Zuza is well aware that finding a full-time position after graduation usually takes many applications and some rejections.

However, the current climate has made finding that dream job feel impossible: 

She said: “Right now it feels as if there’s an extra wall between me and a job I would like.

“It’s harder to apply, it’s harder to get work experience, it’s harder to get an interview and there’s fewer jobs.

“It feels unfair that I’ve studied for four years to then have this, but I’m determined and I will keep trying.”

High school pupil Beth wants to work in pharmacy.

Beth, 17, wants to be a pharmacist – she’s been studying hard to get the results she needs for a university spot.

But with no exams this year, she’s banking on a solid prelim performance to get her there. 

She said: “It is frustrating that we couldn’t sit our exams, but obviously due to the circumstances I can completely understand why the decision was taken. 

“Hopefully they’ll consider that we really need these results to get into university, but we’ll just need to see what happens.”

‘Thin end of the wedge’

Louise Goodlad, from the Prince’s Trust, said: “When there’s a recession as we anticipate there will be, (young people) really are the thin end of the wedge.

“They’re often in quite unsecured work, they find they’re in low-paid entry-level jobs which are usually first to go when there’s redundancies.

“Also, when there’s a lot of people out of work for a period, they’re competing with older workers who usually have more experience in the job market.”  

Tony Wilson, from the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “These figures should be a wake-up call for all of us.

“There’s clear evidence that being unemployed when you’re young can lead to lasting damage to mental health, income and employment prospects, and it’s very likely that youth unemployment is already higher than it was in the depths of the last recession.  

“Added to this, up to half a million young people will be leaving education this summer into the toughest jobs market in our lifetimes. 

“We need to act now, to ensure that all young people can access high quality employment, careers and training support, and are guaranteed the offer of a decent job before they become long-term unemployed.”

Freeman told to ‘come clean’ over discharges to care homes

Delayed discharge figures on Wednesday revealed 921 patients were released from hospitals into care homes in March.

Policy: Mandatory testing of all new care home residents announced in April.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has called for Jeane Freeman to “come clean” over the scale of discharging untested hospital patients into care homes.

Delayed discharge figures from the Scottish Government on Wednesday revealed that 921 patients were released from hospitals into care homes in March – the first month of the coronavirus crisis.

But it was not until April 21 that a policy for mandatory testing of all new care home residents was announced by the Scottish Government.

Mr Leonard has now raised concerns over the figures when the health secretary previously gave assurances that the majority of those untested patients were sent to their own homes.

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He said: “This new information is deeply disturbing and Jeane Freeman has serious questions to answer as to why she claimed that the vast majority of untested discharged patients were sent to their own homes.

“Delayed discharge has been a challenge for the NHS for some time and questions need to be asked about the Scottish Government’s approach to discharging untested patients into care homes to free up beds.

“We cannot have the safety of patients, staff and residents imperilled by an ill-advised and dangerous rush to end delayed discharge.

“The impact of coronavirus in Scotland’s care homes has been little short of horrifying and it is clear that discharging infected patients to care homes has played a key role in fanning the flames of this virus.

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“The cabinet secretary owes it to the people of Scotland and the families of the residents and staff affected to come clean over the failure of the government to protect the most vulnerable.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also defended the decision on Friday, admitting she still “agonises” over previous steps she has taken during the crisis.

Her comments came after former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also criticised the decision to “put people that may or may not be infected into an enclosed environment of incredibly vulnerable people”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There is widespread public endorsement for the approach that we are taking in Scotland and ministers are focused on mitigating the effects of what is an unprecedented global pandemic, and making decisions on the best information available.

“The health secretary has issued a letter to make clear that the delayed discharge numbers quoted on April 15 was an error, and apologised for this.

“The Scottish Government has brought forward a number of actions to help keep care home residents and care workers safe and will continue to focus our efforts and attention on that.”

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Scottish coach industry warns it is on brink of collapse

Union warns the sector has not received enough support following the collapse on Friday of a holiday firm.

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Maynes Coaches: Buckie-based firm concerned for its future.

Coach operators across Scotland have warned their industry is on the brink of a complete collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Specialist Leisure Group plunged into administration on Friday evening, taking seven Scottish hotels and well-known coach tour operators Shearings and Caledonian Travel with it. 

The move has left 2500 people jobless and affected around 69,000 customers. 

The CMT Union which represents a swathe of coach companies warned it is the tip of the iceberg, as hundreds of Scottish coach operators battle to stay afloat during the pandemic. 

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According to CMT, the coach industry has failed to receive adequate support as it doesn’t fit into any one category. 

Paul White, director of CMT Scotland, said: “I think it would be fair to say the coach sector is in a perilous position at the moment.

“We have lots of family businesses spanning back generations falling between the cracks of support which is offered to traditional bus services. 

“At the moment we have an industry which is not really receiving sector specific support and has seen a complete wipe-out of its likely revenue from the summer season. 

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He added: “Operators are now looking at what is effectively an 18-month winter season, leaving them in a very precarious situation.

“Some operators I’m speaking to are planning to completely mothball their business and hope to start again in a few years time.”

Maynes Coaches: Co-owner Kevin Mayne. (STV)

Maynes Coaches in Buckie, Moray, has been operating for more than 70 years, but co-owner Kevin Mayne said the pandemic has wiped out almost 90% of his business. 

Mr Mayne said: “There’s a huge amount of operators who are at the cliff-edge of a total industry collapse.

“You’ll find well-respected names, brands which I’ve grown up with, families which I know will no longer be here. 

“I’ve always believed in the saying that only the strongest will survive when it comes to our industry, but this isn’t something we’ve created ourselves.

“This is such a difficult hand we’ve been dealt.” 

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He continued: “I’ve seen operators the same age as us just disappear and it’s heartbreaking.

“Every morning I come out to the yard and look at all our coaches and just wonder when it will all start up again.

“We’ve been going for 73 years, we plan to do one hundred years, we were planning for our 75th anniversary.

“But now we really don’t know what the future lies. It’s worrying to see what could happen if you have no aid.”

He said across the UK, 42,000 people are employed in the sector which brings around £6bn into the British economy.

Mr Mayne added: “A small place like Buckie might not get a lot of tourism but Inverness does, and last year there was £3.5m of direct spend from coach passengers into that particular local economy.

“If you mount it up across the country, we bring a lot to the table.”

‘Not looking good’: Coach driver Brian Duncan spoke to STV News. (STV)

There’s further concern revenues won’t pick up after the crisis if social distancing remains in place, with confined coaches seeing sharp limits on passenger numbers. 

Brian Duncan has seen a lot of change in his four decades as a coach driver, but nothing compares to this. 

Brian said: “It’s very strange, I haven’t seen anything like this. I just can’t believe it’s happening.

“Not knowing how the industry will come out of this is worrying because right now it’s not looking good.

Economy secretary ‘hopes’ for tourism summer season

Fiona Hyslop said support would be essential for tourism, with lockdown measures due to ease from Thursday.

Tourism: Support 'essential' for industry

Scotland’s economy secretary has expressed her hopes there can still be a summer season for the country’s tourism industry.

Fiona Hyslop said support would be essential for tourism and hospitality, with lockdown measures in Scotland due to ease from Thursday.

The Scottish Government’s roadmap out of lockdown will see some other businesses return to normal but there are still restrictions on travelling and leisure for the time being.

Ms Hyslop, appearing on BBC One Scotland’s Politics Scotland programme, was asked about people being concerned about whether they can start to take bookings with June just a week away.

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She said: “I hope they would have a season. We won’t know until we actually see the pattern, particularly as we phase through this easing of the lockdown what the the pattern of this virus will be.

‘We need to ensure that there is a relaxation to allow people to move so that they can themselves within Scotland have those staycations. We’re not in that situation just now.’

Fiona Hyslop, economy secretary

“But we do want to support them, we want to keep them in production capacity. As I speak, there are tens of millions of pounds being issued by the unique and special sort of government scheme – the Resilience Fund and also the Hardship Fund for the hospitality industry.

“It is essential that they have support continued on the job retention scheme, but also in terms of saving a season, we must look at additional packages support.

“We need to ensure that there is a relaxation to allow people to move so that they can themselves within Scotland have those staycations. We’re not in that situation just now.

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“I think there is a huge support from the tourism sector from Scots who when we are able to book holidays they can and they do that in Scotland.

“We’d be very keen for the UK Government to extend their funding support for that sector.”

Ms Hyslop also declined to comment on suggestions the two-metre rule could be changed for bars and restaurants, with a one-metre rule being less problematic.

Fiona Hyslop: Hopes for summer season for Scottish tourism

While saying she was “not a public health expert”, the MSP said she would want to engage with the public health advisers and experts to help face challenges in the sector.

Stage one of the Government’s four-phase plan to lift lockdown is scheduled to begin on May 28, with Scots then allowed to meet people from outside their own household, sunbathe and take part in some non-contact sports like golf.

Ms Hyslop reiterated that any “finishing dates” to the phasing out of lockdown “will be driven by the experience of the virus, and experience in terms of what happens when we start losing it”.

She added: “If we can deliver the phase one safely and well without increasing the infection rates in the community, it will make it easier to help bring forward those dates.

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“We know from our discussions with businesses that transport and education will be important to make sure the workforce can get to work safely, we know that transport will be restricted.

“And we also know that many women with childcare responsibilities for example need to ensure that they have childcare and education provided.

“But we have to do this step-by-step, we have taken a very considered view. Every relaxation, or easing of the lockdown has an impact potentially on that.

“For example, the movement on construction is really important. That’s going to be really important as part of our economic recovery. And that step-by-step safe approach is essential.”

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