Schools in Scotland to reopen on August 11, confirms FM

Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs pupils would return part-time to schools, blending it with at-home learning.

Pupils will return to school in Scotland from August 11, the First Minister has announced.

Setting out plans to gradually ease the lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs pupils will return to a blended model of part-time in school and part-time at-home learning.

Children of key workers and the most vulnerable children will be given priority.

Teachers and other school staff will return during June to prepare classrooms for the new term, while children going into P1 or moving from P7 to secondary school could also return earlier.

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During June and over the summer, an increased number of children will have access to critical childcare and the Scottish Government will provide support for those children transitioning to the next level of education.

The First Minister added: “To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home, we are going to invest a further £30m to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people to study online.”

Setting out a “route map” for how Scotland will begin to ease the lockdown from next Thursday, she announced meeting people from another household outside, sunbathing and some sports are to be allowed.

Some economic sectors like construction and outdoor and rural businesses such as garden centres will be allowed to resume, while drive-through food and drink outlets will be gradually reopened.

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Outlining the moves, Sturgeon said: “I hope they will bring some improvement to people’s wellbeing and quality of life, start to get our economy moving again, and start to steer us safely towards a new normality.

But she stressed: “While the permitted reasons to be out of your house will increase, the default message during phase one will remain ‘stay at home’ as much as possible.”

Freeman ‘confident’ Test and Protect will be taken seriously

Under scheme households are told to stay at home as soon as anyone experiences symptoms and apply for a test.

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Coronavirus: Anyone testing positive will be asked to provide details of people they have been in close contact with.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman is confident people will take the Test and Protect scheme seriously and continue to follow lockdown rules with a “spirit of solidarity”.

It follows polling commissioned by the Scottish Government suggesting a large majority of the public supports the measures aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus.

Under the test, trace and isolate scheme, households are told to stay at home as soon as anyone experiences symptoms and apply for a test on the NHS Inform website.

Ms Freeman said: “Test and Protect is an essential step in our response to Covid-19.

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“We are taking this step now because it’s the appropriate thing to do for this stage of the virus.

“As with lockdown, we need everyone to take this next step very seriously.

“They have done this so far and I am very confident they will step up to show the same spirit of solidarity and care for each other as before.”

Anyone testing positive for the virus will be asked to provide details of people they have been in close contact with to NHS contact tracers, who will then be asked to isolate for 14 days.

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A survey of 1037 adults across Scotland, carried out by YouGov for the Scottish Government, found 88% are willing to provide details of contacts if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

The same proportion also said they would want a test – if at all possible – if they develop symptoms.

Asked if they “understand the importance of testing to stop the spread of coronavirus”, 91% of respondents said they do.

The survey was carried out between May 19 and May 21, before both the introduction of the Test and Protect scheme and the controversy caused by the Prime Minister’s senior aide Dominic Cummings flouting lockdown guidance.

Speaking on Thursday after the First Minister announced an easing of lockdown, Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said: “Nicola Sturgeon admitted to being nervous about this phase of the exit and no wonder.

“It will only work if testing is up to scratch, and so far that has not been the case.

“We still don’t really know what happened to the 2000 tracers who were meant to be in place by the end of the month, nor how long it will be until the system is in full swing.”

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Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “We want to see the Test and Protect system work effectively in stopping the spread of Covid-19 but for there to be confidence in the system there must be assurances from the government that all the testing capacity available is fully used – this hasn’t been the case so far.”

Anyone with the symptoms of Covid-19 – a new continuous cough, temperature, loss or change in sense of taste or smell – can go online to nhsinform.scot to book a test.

People who cannot access the internet can also call 0800 028 2816.

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Diabetics make up almost 20% of Covid-19 hospital deaths

Almost a fifth of coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals across Scotland have been diabetics, according to figures.

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Nurses are being made to share equipment, one says.

Almost a fifth of coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals across Scotland have been diabetics, according to official figures.

The statistics have sparked calls for protection and guidelines for those with the condition as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

It follows similar reports diabetics made up 30% of fatalities in hospitals south of the border.

Figures obtained by the PA news agency from the National Records of Scotland show 554 of those who died with Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificates up to May 24 also had diabetes.

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That is almost 15% of the 3779 total coronavirus deaths at that time.

Out of the 1760 people who died in hospital with the virus, 341 were diabetics – 19%.

Angela Mitchell, national director at Diabetes Scotland said: “The recent statistics underline the urgent need to ensure people with diabetes are protected and supported, especially as lockdown measures are eased.

“There must be assurances that people with diabetes should not be put in a situation that puts them at risk at work.

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“Employers must put measures in place to keep people with diabetes safe, either by supporting people to work at home or, where this is not possible, by putting people with diabetes on furlough or by putting measures in place to allow stringent social distancing for those key workers who absolutely must be at work.

“We need to make sure that the new Government workplace guidelines work for people with diabetes.”

The figures also show 10% of people who died in care homes had the condition – 175 out of 1749 – and diabetics made up 14% of those who died at home – 38 out of 264.

Both type one and type two diabetics are included in the numbers, without a breakdown.

The most recent Scottish Diabetic Survey shows there were more than 304,000 people with the condition in Scotland in 2018, making up 5.6% of the population.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We recognise the challenges faced on a daily basis by people living with diabetes.

“Specific support programmes are in place for people living with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

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“We keep all clinical guidance under review and continue to work with our advisors – including a specific diabetes speciality advisor.

“If anyone with diabetes has any concerns about their condition, they should contact their GP or their diabetes clinical team.

“They will be able to provide specific advice and support based on their individual circumstances.”


What’s it like being pregnant during a pandemic?

Mums-to-be feeling even more concerned during what is already an anxious period of their life.

Pregnant women are in the ‘vulnerable’ category during the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s left many feeling even more concerned during what is already an anxious time in their life.

Scotland Tonight spoke with mum-to-be Lauren McNally about what she’s going through.

You can access the latest NHS advice for pregnant women and Covid-19 here: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/parents-and-families/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-newborn-babies


Man charged in connection with deaths of two men

Emergency services were called to Balloan Road, Inverness, on Thursday at around 10pm.

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Police: Significant presence will remain in area.

A 23-year-old man has been charged after two men were found dead at a property in Inverness.

Emergency services were called to Balloan Road in the city on Thursday at around 10pm.

Two men, aged 28 and 35, were pronounced dead at the scene.

A 27-year-old woman was also found injured and was taken to Raigmore Hospital.

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The man is expected to appear at Inverness Sheriff Court on Monday in connection with the deaths and the injuries to the woman.

Detective Chief Inspector David Hadden said: “A significant police presence will remain in the area while inquiries continue and I would like to thank residents for their patience and co-operation during this time.”


Furloughed workers can return part-time from July 1

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also confirmed employers must start paying towards staff costs from August.

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Rishi Sunak: Chancellor gave update on furlough scheme.

Furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time from July 1, the Chancellor has announced.

Giving the latest update on the UK Government’s job retention scheme, Rishi Sunak confirmed businesses must start paying towards their staff’s salaries from August – initially just 5% of it.

He also said a final self-employment coronavirus grant is to be made available for freelancers in August.

They will be able to claim up to £6570 from that date, giving those workers access to a total coronavirus grant of up to £14,070 each.

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Businesses will also have to start paying National Insurance and tax contributions for staff in August, ramping up to 10% of furloughed wages in September and 20% in October.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak had previously announced the plan to get businesses to contribute to the scheme but he laid out further details on Friday.

He also said workers can return part-time without losing any furlough payments from July – a month earlier than previously planned, following lobbying from businesses.

But businesses must start bearing the costs and from August all companies using the furlough scheme must start paying NI and employer pension contributions.

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In September and October, overall contributions from employers will rise to 10% and 20% respectively, the Chancellor added, but workers still furloughed will keep getting 80% of their wages up to £2500 a month.

The government will cover 70% of wages up to £2190 in September, the other 10% of wages paid with the employer, along with NI and pension contributions, making up 14% of the gross employment costs.

The following month, the Treasury will pick up 60% of wages up to a cap of £1875, with employers paying tax contributions and 20% of wages, representing 23% of the that worker’s costs.

The government added that only 40% of businesses had claimed the pension contributions since the furlough scheme was launched.

Companies can be flexible with their definition of “part-time” as long as a full-time employee has not returned to normal hours, say officials.

The Treasury said: “Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them – and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.”

Since it was launched, the job retention initiative has been used by one million businesses to support 8.5m jobs in all four nations of the UK, at a cost of £15bn so far.

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The scheme is expected to cost a total of around £80bn, or £10bn a month, although the Office for Budget Responsibility is set to publish detailed costs next week.

Business groups had asked the UK Government to ensure that those industries suffering hardest were most protected.

But the Treasury said it was not always clear which sector a business was in, insisting it would not rule out future support if required.

The Chancellor said: “Now, as we begin to reopen our country and kick-start our economy, these schemes will adjust to ensure those who are able to work can do so, while remaining amongst the most generous in the world.”

Sunak had faced calls, including from a cross-party group of 113 MPs, to extend the scheme for self-employed workers, which has so far seen 2.3 million claims worth £6.8bn.

The new grant will be worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6570 in total.

To combat fraud, employees will be able to report any concerns to HM Revenue and Customs.

Scottish Premiership clubs can return to training in June

The SPFL has set a 'firm target' of starting the new top flight season on the weekend of August 1.

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Scottish football: Training can resume for top flight clubs in June.

Scottish Premiership clubs have been given permission to return to training from June 11.

The SPFL has set a “firm target” of starting the new top-flight season on the weekend of August 1.

Competitive professional sport can only restart in Scotland once the country reaches phase two in its routemap out of coronavirus lockdown.

Talks are ongoing about restarting football in the lower leagues.

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Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government have given the green light to the resumption of football training in June.

“We now have a firm target of starting the 2020/21 Premiership season on the weekend of August 1 and that’s a major step forward.

“We will continue working with the Championship, League 1 and League 2 to gauge their ability to start the season and if so, when – which may vary hugely between clubs.

“We clearly welcome the prospect of resuming matches, but we have to take all necessary steps to ensure we can have a sustainable league campaign.

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“That means a safety-first approach, with games initially played behind closed doors and a range of measures to protect players and staff.

“The return of crowds is something we all want to see and we will be working with clubs, government and medical professionals to return safely to playing in front of fans as soon as we can.”


In pictures: Scots enjoy the sunshine as lockdown eases

People are flocking to sun traps to reunite with loved ones as the first phase of the journey out of lockdown begins.

Sunbathers are out in force after the gradual route out of the coronavirus lockdown kicked off on Friday.

With temperatures expected to hit as high as 29C, people are flocking to parks and sun traps to safely reunite with loved ones.

As of Fridaymorning, Scots are allowed to meet friends or relatives from one other household outdoors.

Golfers can return to their local courses and keen shoppers can visit garden centres for their summer essentials.

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People are also permitted to go outside as much as they like, sit in parks and other public spaces and soak up the sunshine.

Sunbathers gather at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow.
People descend on Troon Beach as lockdown measures begin to ease. SNS Group.
Locals gather next to the seaside. SNS Group.
Many take a dip in the sea as temperatures soar. SNS Group.
People head to Portobello Beach in Edinburgh to enjoy the heat.
Locals soak up the sun next to the Clyde.
Cyclists take advantage of the weather in Glasgow.
Sunbathers take their spots on the grass at Glasgow Green.
Locals enjoy the weather while social distancing.
Customers at Dobbies Garden Centre in Edinburgh. SNS Group.
Shoppers browse summer range at the garden centre. SNS Group
Shoppers browse plants at Cardwell in Gourock.
Shoppers queue outside the garden centre.
Golfers return to the links at Royal Troon as lockdown restrictions are eased. SNS Group.
Signage asks golfers to keep two metres apart at Cathcart golf club. SNS Group.
Staff at Bruntsfield Links show Covid-19 warning signs for the return of golfers. SNS Group.
Warning flag on display. SNS Group.
Social distancing guidelines as golfers return to action. SNS Group.
Golfers take advantage of the weather and rule changes. SNS Group.

Sturgeon: Don’t take us back to lockdown square one

The First Minister urged the public not to go too far as some 'cautious changes' are made to ease restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots not to “take us back to square one” in tackling coronavirus on the day some lockdown measures were eased.

With people from two households now able to meet outdoors, and travel to local beauty spots and outdoor sports such as golf and tennis also permitted, the First Minister called on the public to be responsible

On the relaxation of some restrictions, she said: “They are deliberately, and by necessity, cautious changes and they have been very carefully assessed.”

She repeated remarks from Thursday that she is “nervous” about the modifications to the lockdown, and warned people they must stick within the parameters the Scottish Government has outlined.

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Scotland has now entered phase one of a four-stage plan to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions.

People can sit outside in public spaces, sunbathe, travel locally (ideally not more than five miles) for recreation or exercise and meet members of one other household outside per day, while keeping socially distanced from them.

But indoor meetings with other households are still not allowed, meetings anywhere of more than two households are not allowed and the majority of businesses remain closed.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily press briefing on Friday, the First Minister said bending the new rules could increase transmission of Covid-19 by giving the virus “bridges to jump across”.

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She continued: “We could see the virus spread quickly again and that would take us back to square one.

“I’m not trying to cramp anyone’s fun this weekend… but I am asking you to please do so responsibly.

“I’m appealing to your judgement and to your sense of solidarity with each other.”

Sturgeon added: “However harsh these rules might feel right now, and I know that they do, abiding by them will never, ever be as harsh as grieving the loss of a loved one.”

A total of 15 more people in Scotland with coronavirus have died, taking the death toll including suspected Covid-19 cases to 3840.

But for the seventh day in a row, new confirmed cases of the virus are under 100, with just 39 reported in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total since the pandemic began to 15,327.

Officials estimate that as of last week there was 19,000 infectious people in Scotland, down from 25,000 the week before.

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There are 22 fewer people in Scottish hospitals with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, down to 1216, with a slight rise of three in the numbers in intensive care, up to 40.

The FM said those attending picnics and barbecues this weekend with one other household should bring their own cups, plates and cutlery, keep two metres apart from the members of the other household and avoid touching any hard surfaces.

You should not go into anyone else’s house, for example, to use their bathroom. If you need go into a house to access a private garden, you should do it quickly and not touch any surfaces.

Non-contact outdoor sports and activities, including golf, tennis, fishing, bowls, water sports and outdoor, one-on-one personal training and coaching can resume, but only if two-metre distancing is observed and you don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk.

Garden centres and plant nurseries can also reopen, while drive-through food and drink outlets can resume work and constructions firms can begin building site preparations.

The First Minister said if people aren’t sure if their specific plans for the weekend are within the rules, they should “err on the side of caution”.

But thanking the public for observing the lockdown to date, she added: “I have never been prouder of this country than I am right now.”

Also speaking at the briefing, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director Jason Leitch urged Scots: “Please don’t take phase one lightly.”

He said Scots should continue to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and maintain good cough and hand hygiene – sneezing or coughing into a tissue or their elbow, and trying to avoid touching your face.

Sturgeon also addressed the future of the manufacturing industry in Scotland as a result of the pandemic.

She said the sector had proven just how important it is, with companies coming forward to help produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser.

The First Minister told the briefing that most of the manufacturing sector will have to remain closed during phase one of the lockdown easing, but they will be allowed to prepare for return to business in phase two.

Sturgeon said: “I’m announcing today that we’re providing an additional £20m of funding for Scotland’s new National Manufacturing Institute (NMI), bringing our total investment to £75m.”

The First Minister also announced that the contract to build the NMI building, which will be operated by the University of Strathclyde, has been awarded.

She said 12 new projects will be funded to help boost small and medium-sized businesses.

Two dead and man arrested after ‘disturbance’ at house

Police are treating the incident at a house in Inverness as 'suspicious'.

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Police remain at the scene of the disturbance on Friday morning.

Two men have died following a “disturbance” at a house in Inverness.

Police said a man had been arrested and that they were treating the incident as “suspicious”.

The men – who have not yet been identified – died at a house in Balloan Road on Thursday night.

Emergency services were called to the scene around 10pm.

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Detective chief inspector David Hadden said: “Enquiries are ongoing and at a very early stage.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased at this difficult time. I would like to take this opportunity to stress that there is no threat to the wider community.

“This appears to have been a contained incident, however there will be a significant police presence in the area while our investigation continues. I would like to thank local residents for their patience meantime.

“Anyone with information about this incident, who has not yet spoken to the police, is asked to contact 101 quoting reference number 4347 of 28 May, 2020. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 to remain completely anonymous.”


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