Sturgeon ‘keeping options open’ on vaccine passports

The First Minister said she was ‘highly cautious’ about the use of such certification.

Vaccine passports: The First Minister said she was ‘highly cautious’ about the use of such certification. PA Media via PA Ready
Vaccine passports: The First Minister said she was ‘highly cautious’ about the use of such certification.

Nicola Sturgeon says she is keeping her options open on whether to introduce Covid vaccine passports domestically in Scotland.

The First Minister said she was “highly cautious” about the use of Covid passports but she wanted to consider whether they could play a role in the future.

As she announced the move beyond level zero on Tuesday, Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was considering “very carefully the possible, albeit limited, use of Covid status certification for access to certain higher risk venues in future”.

An app is under development to allow for such certification for those travelling abroad, she said, but it could also allow for vaccine certification domestically.

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Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie and Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur questioned the First Minister about her plans during a virtual session of the Scottish Parliament.

Harvie said the use of vaccine passports “raises human rights implications if our ability to live our lives is dependent on our health status”.

McArthur said: “I’m concerned the government is still humming and hawing about domestic vaccine passports a full nine months after we first pressed them for a decision.”

The First Minister said vaccination did not eliminate all risks from the virus.

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Referring to her earlier statement to MSPs, she stressed that no decision on the domestic use of Covid status certification had been taken yet.

She said: “I wasn’t seeking to emphasise it or pull it out as the big next thing that we’re definitely going to do.

“I wanted to be frank with parliament that we are keeping our options open.”

The app would not immediately have functionality for domestic certification but it could be used in the future, she said.

Sturgeon added: “I am highly cautious about Covid passports, to give them the colloquial term, for all the reasons that Patrick Harvie has set out.

“I would be passionately and fundamentally opposed to their use for access to public services or anything that was seen as essential for people.”


Scottish Government U-turns on Covid testing rules for travellers

Transport secretary says Scottish Government 'reluctantly concluded' that alignment with the UK is 'the best option'.

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Scotland will ease Covid testing regime for international travellers.

The Scottish Government has U-turned over its testing regime for international travellers.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson announced on Friday that Scotland will now align with the UK Government in easing testing for people arriving from overseas.

It comes just a week after the Scottish Government decided not to follow its UK counterparts in dropping the need for a pre-departure negative test and allowing vaccinated travellers to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.

Matheson said last week the UK Government’s proposals “could weaken our ability to protect the public health of Scotland’s communities”.

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He reiterated those concerns on Friday but said the Scottish Government recognises “not having UK wide alignment causes significant practical problems and creates disadvantages for Scottish businesses”.

It means the need for pre-departure tests for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Scotland will now be removed from October 4.

Travellers from non-red list countries who have been fully vaccinated in a country that meets recognised standards of certifications will no longer be required to provide evidence of a negative test result before they can travel to Scotland.

Scotland will also align with the UK post-arrival testing regime.

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Matheson said: “We have urgently considered all these implications, weighing any possible impact on the public health and the logistical realities.

“After liaising at length with stakeholders from the aviation sector to understand the impact of adopting a different approach in Scotland, we have reluctantly concluded that, for practical reasons, alignment with the UK is the best option.

“The new proposals make clear pre-departure tests will no longer be a requirement. We also intend to align with the UK post-arrival testing regime.

“The detail of that is still being developed with lateral flow tests being considered and we will engage further with the UK Government on those plans. Details will be announced at the same time as the UK.”

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports Ltd, which owns and operates Aberdeen and Glasgow airports, said the decision “is a welcome step forward”.

He said: “While this is something we have been urging the Scottish Government to do for months, and the subsequent delay has negatively impacted the industry in Scotland and AGS as a group, it is a welcome step forward.

“By ensuring Scotland has parity with the rest of the UK, this decision is one that will deliver much-needed consumer confidence for our passengers to start travelling again and for our airline partners to look at increasing capacity at our airports.

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“A number of restrictions on travel still remain in place and we are not yet back to anything like normal operations, but we will continue to engage with government to ensure the safe return on international travel continues and that we can rebuild the connectivity that plans a vital role in supporting our economy.”

Edinburgh Airport published a report on Thursday claiming the recovery of Scotland’s aviation sector is the slowest in the UK and continues to lag behind the rest of Europe.

The airport’s chief executive Gordon Dewar that was due to tighter restrictions and slower relaxations.

Dewar said on Friday: “We appreciate the Scottish Government’s moves to listen to industry this week and we understand their concerns, but we do think there must be more proportionality when it comes to balancing both the protection of public health and the importance of Scotland’s economic recovery.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the government to address concerns and ensure Scotland’s industries can restart as safely as possible.”

The Scottish Government acknowledged on Friday that if non-alignment led to travellers to Scotland choosing to route through airports elsewhere in the UK, the public health benefits of testing “would be undermined in any event”.

Scottish Conservatives shadow transport minister Graham Simpson said: “This SNP climbdown will come as a relief to businesses in Scotland’s much overlooked tourism and aviation industries.

However, such a late U-turn means Scottish airports have missed out on any potential recovery that could have been made during the October break.

“The SNP-Green Government need to realise that this affects more than just holidaymakers and the aviation industry. Their slow decision will have had a damaging impact on jobs and businesses in Scotland.”

It was announced last week that green and amber classifications will merge from October 4 but the red list will be retained for those countries deemed to have high Covid-19 case rates or variants of concern.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said earlier this week, however, that no date has been set for the removal of PCR testing for fully vaccinated travellers.

Asked when the policy will be implemented, Shapps told the Commons Transport Select Committee that the Department of Health and Social Care is “aware” of the dates of October half-term, which is a popular period for families to go on holiday.

Large queues at petrol stations amid fuel shortage panic

Drivers have been queuing at petrol stations across the country.

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Queues: Morrisons petrol station in East Kilbride.

Large queues have been forming at petrol stations across Scotland amid fears of a fuel shortage.

The scenes come despite assurances from the UK Government that drivers should continue to “fill up as normal”.

Delivery issues led to several garage closures throughout the country on Thursday.

Esso owner ExxonMobil said a “small number” of Tesco Alliance petrol forecourts have been impacted by disruption to petrol deliveries.

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BP told the UK Government in a meeting last Thursday that the company’s ability to transport fuel from refineries to its network of forecourts was faltering.

The Road Haulage Association and the AA have both tried to ease concerns by saying there will be enough fuel to go around and that the delivery issues, blamed on a shortage of HGV drivers, were consigned to a small number of areas.

But the advice failed to have the desired effect and on Friday as drivers could be seen queuing at stations in areas including Port Glasgow, Stirling and East Kilbride.

Others took to social media to document the crowds gathering at garages throughout Scotland.

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Twitter user Derek Geddes posted a picture of a garage packed out with several rows of cars waiting their turn.

Robert McCallion said: “It appears the “Don’t Panic Buy Fuel” message has worked a treat Massive queues at every petrol station from Wemyss Bay to Port Glasgow It’s all going well.”

And Ian Martin Tweeted: “In a very long queue at Tesco petrol in Port Glasgow. We’re in trouble aren’t we?”

On Thursday BP’s head of UK retail Hanna Hofer said it was important the Government understood the “urgency of the situation”, which she described as “bad, very bad”.


Soldiers deployed to drive ambulances this weekend

More than 200 Army personnel will support the struggling Scottish Ambulance Service at 'crisis point'.

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It comes as the four-hour A&E waiting time standard has fallen to the worst level on record again.

Hundreds of soldiers will be deployed from Saturday to support the Scottish Ambulance Service amid pressure on the NHS.

More than 110 Army personnel will be provided to drive ambulances this weekend.

Another 111 soldiers will be operating mobile coronavirus testing units which the military previously helped run last year during the height of the pandemic.

The Ministry of Defence said its staff, including members of the The Royal Highland Fusiliers, were expected to be deployed for a couple of months.

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It comes as the four-hour A&E waiting time standard has fallen to the worst level on record again.

With hospitals beds taken up by Covid-19 patients, and growing pressure on emergency departments, those attending hospitals are waiting hours to be admitted leading to queues of ambulances unable to respond to other calls.

After a grandad died having waited 40 hours for paramedics, a doctor told STV News the Scottish Ambulance Service is at “crisis point”.

Firefighters are also stepping in to aid Scotland’s struggling ambulance service following an urgent call to the public sector for support.

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Health secretary Humza Yousaf said the measures were being taken ahead of “an incredibly challenging winter”.

On Friday afternoon, Yousaf will meet Army personnel who are training for the deployment.


Leigh Griffiths charged by police over ‘smoke bomb incident’

Dundee striker charged with 'culpable and reckless conduct' in connection with an alleged incident at Dens Park.

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Leigh Griffiths has joined Dundee on loan until the end of the season.

Dundee striker Leigh Griffiths has been charged with “culpable and reckless conduct” in relation to an alleged incident at Dens Park on Wednesday.

Griffiths has been accused of kicking a smoke bomb at St Johnstone fans during a Premier Sports Cup quarter-final clash.

Police were investigating the incident and on Friday they said a 31-year-old man had been charged.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland can confirm that a 31-year-old man has been charged in relation to culpable and reckless conduct, following an incident at Dens Park, Dundee, on Wednesday, September 22.

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“A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

Griffiths could also face action from the football authorities over the alleged incident but the Scottish FA are unlikely to begin disciplinary proceedings while a criminal case is active.


Legionella bacteria found in water supply at hospital

NHS Lanarkshire said routine water sampling had discovered the bacteria at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie.

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Monklands Hospital in Airdrie.

Patients have been assured that the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease is “extremely low” after bacteria was found in the water supply at a hospital.

NHS Lanarkshire said routine water sampling had discovered legionella bacteria in the renal and endoscopy units at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie.

Filters have now been placed on basins and shower outlets in the units and in a ward served by the same water tank.

No patients are showing any signs of the disease.

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Susan Friel, nurse director for acute services at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We are working closely with microbiology and facilities colleagues to put in place further steps following these results to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

“This includes sampling on a regular basis until we have a full set of negative samples, and filters remaining in place for as long as required.

“We want to reassure our patients and staff that the risk of contracting legionella disease with this particular strain is extremely low and the measures we have taken are precautionary while we continue to sample the water.”

She added that infection prevention and control measures are in place and no patients are showing signs of legionnaires disease, but staff will continue to monitor the situation in the coming days.

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Christina Coulombe, head of infection prevention and control at the health board, added: “There have been no toilets closed but handwashing facilities are out of commission as a precautionary measure while testing is ongoing.

“The option of portable sinks was discussed with staff and have now been provided in the areas requested by staff. Senior staff in all three areas can request further portable sinks by contacting facilities colleagues.”


Coronavirus: 50 deaths and 3667 fresh cases recorded overnight

A total of 1011 people were in hospital on Thursday with recently confirmed Covid-19.

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Covid-19: The fight to stem the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

A further 50 deaths and 3667 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland overnight, according to official figures.

A total of 46,217 new tests were carried out, with 8.5% testing positive – up from the 8% reported the previously day.

Of the new cases reported on Friday, 855 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 566 are in Lothian, 524 are in Lanarkshire and 344 are in Ayrshire and Arran.

The rest of the cases are spread out across nine other health board areas.

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A total of 1011 people were in hospital on Thursday with recently confirmed Covid-19, 46 fewer overnight. Out of those, 79 patients are in intensive care.

The lab-confirmed death toll of those who tested positive within the previous 28 days currently stands at 8514, however figures including suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now at least 10,826.

It was also confirmed that 4,168,278 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 2222 from the day before.

A total of 3,820,182 people have received their second dose, a rise of 1754.

Glasgow taxi driver calls for Susan Aitken to go over ‘filthy’ city

Rats, rubbish and graffiti are among the issues facing the host of the UN Climate Change Conference.

Glasgow Cabbie via / SNS via SNS Group
Leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken, has faced calls to resign.

A Glasgow taxi driver who has campaigned to promote Scotland has launched a petition calling for the council leader to resign because of the “state of the rat-ridden city”.

Stef Shaw, known as the poetry-writing Glasgow Cabbie, said he became angry when watching Susan Aitken being interviewed for STV News and Scotland Tonight.

The council leader rejected claims the city is “filthy” and said it only needed a “spruce up”.

“When I saw Susan Aitken denying the state of Glasgow, I didn’t know what to think,” Mr Shaw said.

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“I don’t know what on earth Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland are going to do.

“I’m very much a proud citizen of Glasgow, but I don’t know how Glasgow is going to pick itself up.”

Images showing litter-strewn pavements and overflowing bins have been posted online in recent months.

Mr Shaw, who penned a poem set to music in a video shared by the city’s official tourism body, said Glasgow was in a “dreadful state”.

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“I’ve been driving Hackney cabs for 31 years, I put a lot of effort into making the city a better place,” he said.

“It’s really reached a crisis point.”

Mr Shaw’s petition has already had more than 1000 signatures with people commenting on graffiti, rubbish and the number of homeless people failed by the city.

At the end of October, Glasgow will host the the UN Climate Change Conference, with world leaders and delegates from 196 countries expected to arrive in the city for the biggest diplomatic meeting on UK soil in half a century.

High-profile guests could include the Queen, the Pope, US President Joe Biden, climate activist Greta Thunberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The council published its ambitious collection of public works, including a city region metro and a roof garden over Charing Cross, to enhance the city’s green-credentials on Thursday.

Glasgow Cabbie via Submitted

But as UK ministers hope for a Glasgow Agreement at COP26 that will see countries around the world act to prevent climate catastrophe, the SEC and surrounding area is set to be a no-go zone for cyclists and pedestrians and the city has been branded “filthy”.

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Rat bites have left cleansing staff in hospital, according to GMB which accused the council of being “in denial” about a vermin problem that was “getting worse and worse”.

School cleaners janitors, refuse collectors, and street sweepers are being balloted for strike action which could see the services halt during the conference when hundreds of journalists from around the world will be based in the city.

The Glasgow branch of Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, and GMB held a public waste summit on Thursday calling for an end to dirty streets and rats.

Ying Lee, a Living Rent member, said: “Glasgow is notorious for rats, and that’s across the city. We need more road sweepers, they aren’t enough, we are crying for more of them.”

GMB is calling for 100 new full-time refuse collectors, 100 new full-time street sweepers and the reintroduction of back court teams.

Glasgow City Council and councillor Aitken have been asked for comment.


School children across Scotland protest against climate change

Forty thousand young people turned out in Scotland for the last global strike.

STV News

School pupils across Scotland held climate protests on Friday as part of a youth global strike.

It marks the return of climate demonstrations made popular by activist Greta Thunberg.

The Swedish teenager has said she does not believe Scotland is a world leader on climate change, as the Scottish Government claims.

Florence Spreadborough, a 17-year-old march organiser, said: ”How can I imagine a worthwhile and exciting future for myself and my friends when the very stability of the world around me is constantly being threatened with irreversible changes to the climate, bringing more and more extreme weather and danger to so many across the world.

Ronald Patrick via Getty Images
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg popularised the Fridays for Future protests.
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“What was extreme is rapidly becoming normal. It scares me and I’m often frightened to think about it.”

Fridays for Future protests were held in Glasgow, Edinburgh, East Kilbride, Stirling, St Andrew’s, Forres and Ullapool and comes just 37 days before the country hosts the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow at the end of October.

But as leaders hope for a Glasgow Agreement at COP26 that will see countries around the world act to prevent climate catastrophe, the SEC and surrounding area is set to be a no-go zone for cyclists and pedestrians and the city has been branded “filthy”.

Forty thousand young people turned out in Scotland for the last global strike.

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Hundreds took part in an “Earth March” on Forres High Street, with speakers addressing crowds and sharing feelings about the crisis.

Julia Tucknott, one of the organisers, said: “It’s a terrifying thought that the World leaders who meet in Glasgow in November at COP26 will actually be signing off policies that will determine what happens this decade and for thousands of years to follow.

“The future of life on earth is literally in their hands.”

Glasgow protestors met in Kelvingrove Park at 11am behind the bandstand. They marched to George Square for a rally lasting around two hours.

In Edinburgh, demonstrators held a rally outside the Scottish Parliament starting at 11am.

In Stirling, protestors demonstrated on Port Street at 2pm.

In Forres, participants marched from Thomson Memorial to Grant Park starting at 2pm.

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In Ullapool, strikers were at their weekly location on Quay Street from 8:30am.

In East Kilbride, school children and others gathered outside the Civic Centre at 1pm.

In St Andrew’s, protestors gathered at 10:45am to march from St Salvador’s Quad to West Sands.

COP26 president Alok Sharma has said he is confident the Glasgow conference will go ahead in person despite rising Covid cases in Scotland.

Hundreds of soldiers will be deployed from Saturday to support the Scottish Ambulance Service amid pressure on the NHS froom the coronavirus pandemic.


Vigil for murdered Sabina Nessa to be held in George Square

People are asked to bring candles, flowers and placards on Friday night.

Met Police via Met Police
Sabina Nessa was killed in London.

A candlelight vigil in the memory of a primary school teacher who was killed while walking to meet a friend will be held in Glasgow on Friday night.

Reclaim These Streets, the group which organised gatherings following the killing of Sarah Everard in March, invited those who want to show their solidarity against gender based violence to join them in George Square.

An announcement said: “Sabina’s story is harrowing, the increase of violence against women and particularly women of colour, cannot be overlooked.”

Participants are asked to bring candles, flowers and placards to the city centre at 7pm, to ensure they have a safe route home, to wear a mask and not come if they have symptoms of Covid-19.

GCC via Glasgow City Council
Tributes paid at a Reclaim These Streets vigil in Glasgow.
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The group said: “We are devastated to be arranging another vigil, gender based violence is serious and it is deadly.

“Our thoughts go out to Sabina Nessa’s family, and everyone who loved her and knew her. We share your rage and grief.”

Ms Nessa was walking to meet a friend at a bar near her home in south-east London at around 8.30pm last Friday, a journey that should have taken just five minutes, when she was attacked.

Police are searching for a man captured on CCTV near where her body was found.

Met Police via Facebook
Sarah Everard
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On March 13, ten days after Sarah Everard went missing, notes, letters and ribbons were tied to gates and lampposts at Kelvingrove Park, Queens Park, George Square and the Mary Barbour Statue in Govan.

The tributes were collected to become part of a “manifesto for change”.


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