Sturgeon: I must ask all of you again to make sacrifices

The First Minister warned Scots they 'simply cannot have 100% normality' in the global Covid pandemic.

Scottish Government

The First Minister has asked the Scottish public “again to make sacrifices” to help halt the spread of coronavirus.

In a televised address to the country, Nicola Sturgeon said that we “simply cannot have 100% normality” in the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

It comes after she announced earlier that visiting or hosting people from other households in their homes will be banned across the country as cases surge throughout Scotland and the UK once more.

Pubs and restaurants will also have to close at 10pm every night from Friday, while employers should “rethink” bringing staff back into workplaces if they do not need to be there.

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Sturgeon announced the new measures earlier on Tuesday before MSPs, imploring people to “stick with this”.

She followed it up with a televised speech in the evening where she accepted the latest restrictions might feel like a “step backwards” – but insisted they “will make a difference”.

In addition to the ban on visiting others inside their homes and the 10pm hospitality curfew, people are also advised not to share car journeys with anyone from outside their household.

Regulations enforcing the changes will come into place from Friday, but Sturgeon urged Scots to comply from Wednesday.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson also gave a televised address, telling the British public that common sense is the “single greatest weapon” in the effort to suppress coronavirus.

He said there were now “too many” breaches of the rules around Covid and warned the UK faces an “unquestionably difficult” winter.

But the PM made a plea for a “spirit of togetherness” and insisted the country has “great days ahead”.

Speaking after the Prime Minister, from Edinburgh, the First Minister said: “The last six months have been unprecedented.

“They’ve been the hardest many of us have ever lived through.

“But through our collective efforts across Scotland, we did beat Covid back.

“As a result – although too much heartbreak has been endured and too many families are grieving – many lives were also saved.

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“But as we enter winter, and with many lockdown restrictions now thankfully lifted, the challenge is once again getting harder.”

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government’s focus is on saving lives, keeping schools open, protecting public health and protecting jobs.

She continued: “It is to safeguard these priorities that I must ask all of you again to make sacrifice – sacrifices for our national wellbeing.

“They are not easy but please believe me when I say they are essential.

“We have decided that from Friday there will be a national curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants. They will have to close by 10pm to reduce the time people spend there.

“And from tomorrow, we are all being asked not to visit each other’s homes, because we know that is often how the virus spreads most easily from one household to another.

“There are exceptions – for care of the vulnerable, extended households, childcare and tradespeople – but generally, by staying out of other people’s houses for now, we give ourselves the best chance of bringing Covid back under control.”

“I will never find the words to thank all of you enough for the enormous sacrifices you have made so far and I am sorry to be asking for more.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

She reiterated the “rule of six” still applies to outdoor social gatherings, meaning six people from no more than six people can meet up.

“And because we know this is especially difficult for children and young people, we’ve tried to build in more flexibility for you,” Sturgeon continued.

“If you are younger than 12, there are no limits on playing with your friends outdoors.

“And if you are between 12 and 17 you can meet your friends outdoors in groups of 6 – but you don’t all have to be from just two households.”

The FM added: “For everyone, adults and children, I know that today must feel like a step backwards.

“But please know that thanks to all your efforts over the last six months, we are in a much stronger position than in the spring.

“Cases are rising but less rapidly than back then.

“Our Test and Protect system is working well – tracing contacts and breaking chains of transmission.

“We have much more information on how and where the virus spreads.”

Concluding her statement, Sturgeon urged people to remember “that humanity has come through even bigger challenges than this one”.

She went on: “Though it doesn’t feel like it now, this virus will pass – it won’t last forever and one day, hopefully soon, we will be looking back on it, not living through it.

“So though we are all struggling with this – and believe me, we are all struggling – let’s pull together.

“Let’s keep going, try to keep smiling, keep hoping and keep looking out for each other.

“Be strong, be kind and let’s continue to act out of love and solidarity.

“I will never find the words to thank all of you enough for the enormous sacrifices you have made so far and I am sorry to be asking for more.

“But a belief I hold on to – and one I am asking you to keep faith with in those moments when it all feels too hard – is this: if we stick with it, and above all, if we stick together, we will get through it.”

Speaking from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said “the struggle against Covid is the single biggest crisis the world has faced in my lifetime”.

He said he was “spiritually reluctant to… infringe anyone’s freedom” but insisted new measures now could help avoid a full-scale national lockdown again.

Johnson stated: “Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour.

“If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together.”

On new restrictions, he continued: “I am deeply, spiritually reluctant to make any of these impositions, or infringe anyone’s freedom, but unless we take action the risk is that we will have to go for tougher measures later, when the deaths have already mounted and we have a huge caseload of infection such as we had in the spring.”

“We must take action now because a stitch in time saves nine.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister added: “If we were forced into a new national lockdown, that would threaten not just jobs and livelihoods but the loving human contact on which we all depend.

“It would mean renewed loneliness and confinement for the elderly and vulnerable, and ultimately it would threaten once again the education of our children.

“We must do all we can to avoid going down that road again.

“If people don’t follow the rules we have set out, then we must reserve the right to go further.

“We must take action now because a stitch in time saves nine; and this way we can keep people in work, we can keep our shops and our schools open, and we can keep our country moving forward while we work together to suppress the virus.”

More than 10,000 visas given to foreign workers ‘to save Christmas’

The temporary visa scheme will see opportunities created for 5000 HGV drivers and 5500 poultry workers.

Peter Cade via Getty Images
Temporary visas: The scheme aims to 'rescue Christmas' from supply shortages.

More than 10,000 foreign workers will be temporarily permitted to work as lorry drivers and in the food sector as ministers look to rescue Christmas from supply shortages.

A temporary visa scheme will see opportunities created for 5000 HGV drivers and 5500 poultry workers to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve, in a bid to keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys and toys and counter delivery difficulties at petrol stations.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would “ensure preparations remain on track” for the festive season.

Retailers had warned the Government that it had just ten days to save Christmas from “significant disruption” due to a shortfall of about 90,000 drivers in the freight sector.

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Industry groups the Food and Drink Federation and Logistics UK both welcomed the visa changes, with federation chief Ian Wright calling the measures “pragmatic”.

But British Chamber of Commerce president Baroness McGregor-Smith said the changes were the “equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire” as it would “not be enough to address the scale of the problem”.

The announcement about immigration rules being relaxed to ease supply pressures comes amid scenes of lengthy queues at petrol stations after a shortage of specialised tanker drivers forced some fuel retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales.

As well as the short-term measure of opening up to foreign workers, the Ministry of Defence is also stepping in to provide examiners for lorry driving tests as ministers look to steadily increase the size of the workforce.

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Officials said the loan of MoD examiners to work alongside Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) employees would help put on “thousands of extra tests” over the next 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, nearly one million letters will be landing in the coming days on the doormats of people with HGV licences to encourage those who have left the industry to return.

The letter will set out the steps the haulage sector is taking to improve industry conditions, including increased wages, flexible working and fixed hours, according to the Department for Transport.

Shapps said: “This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this Government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage.

“We are acting now but the industries must also play their part, with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.

“After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.”

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated a global shortage of lorry drivers, although there have been long-term issues in the UK with labour numbers amid an ageing workforce, low wages and poor truck stop conditions.

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The DfT said it recognised that importing foreign labour “will not be the long term solution” to the problem and that it wanted to see investment poured into establishing a robust domestic workforce.

Officials said the Government continued to support solving the high vacancy rate through improved testing and hiring, with better pay, working conditions and diversity.

Another long-term measure to turn the situation around will see the Department for Education plough up to £10m into creating new “skills bootcamps” to train up to 3000 more people to become HGV drivers.

The free, intensive courses will train drivers to undertake an entry level HGV licence (Category C) or a more advanced course to operate heavier and longer lorries (Category C&E).

Another 1000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the Government’s adult education budget.

Those accessing medical and HGV licences through the adult budget in the 2021/22 academic year will have their qualifications paid for by the state, with the funding backdated to anyone who started one of these qualifications on or after August 1.

More DVSA examiners will also be freed up to conduct lorry driver tests via a law change to allow driving examiners at the three emergency services and the MoD to be able to conduct driving tests for one another.

UK education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “HGV drivers keep this country running.

“We are taking action to tackle the shortage of drivers by removing barriers to help more people to launch new well-paid careers in the industry, supporting thousands to get the training they need to be road ready.”

UK environment secretary George Eustice said: “We have listened to concerns from the sector and we are acting to alleviate what is a very tight labour market.”

The Government said it had already streamlined the process for new HGV drivers while increasing the number of driving tests available to allow for an extra 50,000 tests to take place per year.


Further two deaths and 2556 new coronavirus cases reported

The test positivity rate in Scotland has increased slightly from 8.8% on Saturday to 8.9% on Sunday.

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Coronavirus: Two more deaths reported in past 24 hours.

A further two deaths and 2556 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland overnight, according to official figures.

On Sunday, the Scottish Government revealed 30,652 new tests were carried out in the past 24 hours, with the test positivity rate rising slightly from 8.8% to 8.9%.

While there were just two reported deaths on Sunday, this may be due to register offices being closed on weekends.

There are 1004 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, a decrease of one from Saturday, with 78 of those in intensive care, also a decrease of one.

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There have now been 4,176,832 people who have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccination, with 3,827,110 having received their second dose.


Thousands hit the streets for first Kiltwalk in two years

The annual fundraising event went virtual in 2020 and early 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Kiltwalk: Around 4000 people took to the streets of Glasgow on Sunday.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Glasgow clad in tartan to take part in the first Kiltwalk in two years.

Around 4000 participants took part in the event on Sunday, marching for nearly 500 charities of their choice. 

The annual event went virtual in 2020 and early 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, 11,500 kiltwalkers raised £4.1m for charity, with an additional £2.05m donated by the Hunter Foundation for 1055 charities. 

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Sir Tom Hunter has pledged to top up donations from Sunday’s Kiltwalk by 50%.

Participants took on a choice of two distances – the 16.5 mile Mighty Stride starting at Glasgow Green and ending at Dumbarton’s Meadow Park or the 3.5 mile Wee Wander from Glasgow Green to the Riverside Museum. 

This year’s events were tailored to accommodate social distancing, with walkers setting off from 7am in a series of staggered starts. 

Sir Tom said: “We’re so happy to be here this morning in Glasgow Green to see folk with smiling faces. We’re back!

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“When the pandemic hit, Kiltwalk faced uncertainty, like everyone else on the planet, but I listened to the Kiltwalk team saying we need to do something. The ability for charities to raise money went down but the need for charities went through the roof – it was the perfect storm.

“The money that is raised here will help people all over Scotland with a wee hand-up, not a hand-out.  

“Over 1300 Scottish charities this year will be helped by the Kiltwalk. It makes my heart sing.”

Three Hyundai cars donated by Arnold Clark will be won by three Kiltwalkers on Sunday.


Daniel Craig ‘loved filming in Scotland’ for final Bond movie

The actor will star as 007 in his final Bond movie No Time To Die, which is released on September 30.

STV News

Daniel Craig has said he loved filming in Scotland for his final James Bond film, adding the country is “a beautiful place to be”.

The 53-year-old will star as 007 in his fifth and final Bond movie No Time To Die, which will be released at the end of this month following delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Scotland will have a starring role in the movie, with scenes also filmed in the country for Craig’s third Bond film Skyfall. 

“We did a nice chunk in Skyfall and we’re back again and we just had an amazing place where we filmed,” Craig told STV entertainment reporter Laura Boyd. 

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“I love Scotland and going back and filming up there.

“We were in the studio for months and then we went [to Glen Coe] and the space – it was such a relaxing time and the same on this [film], although we went driving across fields at 90mph and crashing cars and things.

“It was a beautiful place to be.”


Soldiers will help ambulance service for ‘long run’ if needed – Jack

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack spoke as military personnel started a deployment with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

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It comes as the recent surge in Covid cases in Scotland has put further pressure on the NHS

Army personnel could be driving Scotland’s ambulances for longer than the two months originally planned, with Scottish secretary Alister Jack declaring that the military support is “here for the long run” if needed.

A total of 114 soldiers have been drafted in to drive non-emergency vehicles for the Scottish Ambulance Service, with a further 111 members of the armed forces helping to staff coronavirus testing centres.

It comes as the recent surge in Covid cases in Scotland has put further pressure on the NHS, with some patients experiencing long waits for ambulances – something First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been clear is unacceptable.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf, who met some of the soldiers who are stepping in on Friday, said he expected their assistance would help make a “significant improvement” to the waiting times crisis.

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Jack said that while two months of support had initially been requested, military help could remain in place “longer if that’s what the Scottish Government needs and what it takes to help protect the public”.

Alister Jack insisted the forces helping the ambulance service were ‘here for the long run’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the Scottish secretary said: “The British military is always ready to deploy at the drop of a hat – but they are also here for the long run.

“Initially two months of support were requested, but let me be crystal clear about timescales.

“The UK’s Forces are not in any way restricting the amount of time available. We are happy for this operation to go on longer if that’s what the Scottish Government needs and what it takes to help protect the public.”

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Jack added: “I am pleased that we are able to work together as one to bring a quality UK asset such as the military to bear on problems.

“I say with confidence that if our NHS here in Scotland continues to struggle as winter bites, the UK military stands ready with much more help, which they can deliver in a heartbeat.”

Colonel Anthony Phillips, the commander of joint military command for Scotland, has previously said the forces deployment with the ambulance service could be extended.

Members of the armed forces from 68 Squadron from 7 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps  are now helping out, with approximately two-thirds of the troops based in the Glasgow area and a third in the Edinburgh region –  although they can be deployed elsewhere as required by the ambulance service.

Col Phillips stated on Friday: “Our commitment will be in the region of about two months.

“It is all conditions-based and if there is a requirement to look at that and extend, then that will be done in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence and the Scottish Government.”


Investigation after man is hospitalised following ‘targeted attack’

A man was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary Hospital following the incident on Saturday.

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There will be an increased police presence in the area as an investigation is carried out.

A police investigation has been launched after a ‘targeted attack’ which left a man in hospital.

Officers attended Garlieston Road in the Barlanark area of Glasgow on Saturday at around 9.25pm following reports of a injured man.

The 33-year-old was then taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary Hospital for treatment.

Police Scotland have indicated that they will have an increased presence in the area throughout their investigation.

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 9.25pm on Saturday, 25 September, police attended a report of man injured in Garlieston Road, Glasgow.

“The 33-year-old was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary Hospital for treatment.

“Enquiries are ongoing and officers are following a positive line of enquiry.

“This was a targeted attack and there will be an increased police presence in the area throughout the investigation.”


Thousands join walk to remember those lost to substance misuse

The annual Recovery Walk saw 2000 people gather at North Inch Park in Perth to remember loved ones.

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Thousands of people have gathered in Perth to show their support for those who have recovered from drug and alcohol addiction. 

More than 2000 people attended the annual Recovery Walk at North Inch Park on Saturday, which also provides an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives to substance misuse.

Participants carried roses in memory of loved ones, which they later threw into the River Tay during the event. 

Jardine Simpson, Chief Executive Scottish Recovery Consortium said: “As people of lived experience of any types of addictions, it’s very important for us, even in a day of celebration, to remember those that we’ve lost.

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“But then to celebrate – what better way to remember those people than by actually celebrating recovery as a process.”

While attending the event, drugs minister Angela Constance said it was vital that people in recovery are recognised.

“They are living proof that change is possible, that recovery is possible, and that with hard work we can address what has gone wrong in the past, and it has been fantastic to have so many people from the recovery community, from the length and breadth of Scotland here,” she said.

“Learning from each other, inspiring each other and giving people hope.”


Disruption to train services on Sunday as dispute over pay continues

Political leaders have been urged to take responsibility for the dispute.

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Few services have been running on Sundays for over seven months.

A majority of ScotRail services across the country will be cancelled on Sunday amidst the ongoing industrial dispute.

Few services have been running on Sundays for over seven months, with unions taking action against the rail operator Abellio over pay.

It comes after ticket examiners joined with conductors to vote overwhelmingly in favour of continuing strike action.

Last week, a protest was held outside the residence of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Bute House in Edinburgh, over planned service cuts.

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Subject to consultation, ScotRail has said it plans to introduce a new timetable from May next year, with around 2100 services per weekday.

However, it is a fall on the 2400 operated each day by ScotRail before the coronavirus pandemic.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch insisted that the “political elite” in Scotland should take responsibility for the dispute.

“It is nothing short of a scandal that Transport Scotland and the SNP are happy to collude with Scotrail Abellio to try and burn off their staff by using the sledgehammer of the Tory anti-union laws,” he said.

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“That tactic has failed again this week with our members voting by nine to one to step up the fight. Their determination and resilience is outstanding.”

He continued: “It’s about time the political elite in Scotland took responsibility for Britain’s longest running industrial dispute which is over the basic issue of pay equality on Scotrail. 

“Instead of sticking their heads in the sand they should be forcing Abellio back to the table with a clear instruction to negotiate a fair settlement.  

“RMT has been available to talks to settle this matter since the off and it’s now time for those pulling the strings to take up that offer and bring an end to a dispute which shames Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that constructive talks are on-going with trade unions.

They said: “We recognise how hard rail employees worked during the pandemic to keep services moving for key workers.

“Through additional funding via the Emergency Measures Agreements we ensured that every employee received full pay throughout the pandemic – even at times when services and revenue had fallen by up to 95%.

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“Constructive talks are on-going with many of the trade unions against a backdrop of significant financial challenges faced by the Government – notwithstanding the unprecedented level of funding already provided for transport operators during the pandemic.

“We would urge all unions to continue talks in this constructive manner.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “It’s disappointing that the RMT’s ticket examiner members have voted to continue with their long-running strike.

“We’re seeing customers gradually return to Scotland’s Railway, but our financial position is precarious, and any strike action is damaging and wrong at a time when we need to deliver a safe and reliable service.

“To build a more sustainable and greener railway for the future and reduce the burden on the taxpayer, we need to change.

“All of us in the railway – management, staff, trade unions, suppliers, and government – need to work together to modernise the railway so that it is fit for the future.”


Britain ‘could face national shortage’ of turkeys ahead of Christmas

People have been urged to 'get their orders in very quickly'.

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It has been suggested that supermarket shelves are likely to be hit by a shortage of skilled European employees.

The UK could face a “national shortage” of turkeys in the lead-up to Christmas brought on by a lack of labour following Brexit, a turkey farmer has said.

Kate Martin, chairwoman of the Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA), said that while small British farms that use local workers have been less affected, supermarket shelves are likely to be hit by a shortage of skilled European employees.

The TFTA, which represents producers of high-end free range turkeys, said some poultry farms have already had five times more orders this year than the same time in 2020.

Martin told the PA news agency: “This year it’s looking like there is a national shortage of turkeys when we’re talking about supermarket shelves, rather than buying direct from your farm.

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“It is the supermarket shelves that will be emptier on turkeys this year than they have been before, only because there have been less turkeys placed on the ground, only because the big processers know that they will not get them processed.”

Asked whether supermarkets will run out of turkeys before Christmas, she said: “I think everyone needs to get their orders in very quickly.

“We have seen an absolutely unprecedented number of orders come in.

“Come Christmas, if you leave ordering your turkey from your local farm supplier, you are going to be out of luck.”

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On whether Brexit is to blame, Martin said: “We’re small producers, we use local labour, but for the big processors it is 100% caused by a labour shortage.

“This situation with turkeys is caused by the fact that European labour is no longer available to us, and they are skilled workers who have been coming to us for years.

“People are now missing a whole host of their workforce that they have been training and investing in over the last however many years, and those workers are no longer available for us to use on a seasonal basis – they will go find work on mainland Europe instead.”


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