Sturgeon to outline process of easing lockdown in Scotland

First Minister set to reveal the Scottish Government's four-phase plan for easing current coronavirus restrictions.

Scotland: First Minister to outline plan to ease lockdown restrictions. Getty Images
Scotland: First Minister to outline plan to ease lockdown restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon will reveal today how Scotland could begin the “gradual process” of easing coronavirus restrictions.

While other parts of the UK have already started to loosen the lockdown, which was introduced back in March, the Scottish Government has so far taken a more cautious approach.

But the First Minister will outline to MSPs a four-phase plan for moving out of the current state of lockdown.

Ms Sturgeon has already said restrictions could start to be eased from May 28, when the lockdown is next due for review – but only if measures to suppress Covid-19 continue to be successful.

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Figures published on Wednesday showed Scotland’s weekly coronavirus death toll had fallen for the third week in a row, with National Records of Scotland revealing there were 332 deaths relating to the disease registered between May 11-17.

Speaking about the future lifting of restrictions, the First Minister stressed: “This will be a very gradual process as we monitor how changing behaviour affects the infection rate and we will only be able to move toward easing more restrictions if we continue to work together to suppress the virus.”

“Protecting lives will continue to be our number one priority – and I am confident that people across Scotland will continue to pull together in this national endeavour as we return to some kind of normality.”

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland

She added: “Protecting lives will continue to be our number one priority – and I am confident that people across Scotland will continue to pull together in this national endeavour as we return to some kind of normality.”

Progress throughout this route map out of lockdown will be assessed every three weeks – with the Scottish Government clear that the current advice to people is to stay at home, with only essential journeys permitted.

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The First Minister will reveal more details of her plan in a statement to Holyrood at lunchtime, before being questioned by opposition leaders and backbench MSPs.

Speaking ahead of that, she praised the “enormous sacrifices made by people and businesses across Scotland” – saying these had had “a real impact on the spread of Covid-19”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I would like to thank everybody who has helped to protect themselves, each other and our health and care services.

“For the time being the advice on staying at home except for essential purposes remains the same, but we hope to shortly be ready to start easing the lockdown restrictions and today’s route map will outline how we can do that.

“At all stages in this process, we have listened to the views of people and organisations in Scotland, and have been guided by the latest scientific advice – and that approach will continue going forward.”

She said the route map the Scottish Government was publishing was based on guidance set out by the World Health Organisation, as well as the experience of other countries as they have eased their lockdown, combined with “what we have learned about the impact of Covid-19 in Scotland”.

Coronavirus cases linked to Aberdeen cluster pass 200

NHS Grampian has so far identified 1044 close contacts, with the city in its second weekend of a local lockdown.

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Aberdeen: City in second weekend of local lockdown.

There are now 204 cases of coronavirus linked to a cluster in Aberdeen, the health board has confirmed.

NHS Grampian has so far identified 1044 close contacts, with the city in its second weekend of a local lockdown.

Scottish Government figures revealed another another 51 people in Scotland have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours.

While just under half of those cases (25) have been detected in the Grampian area, it is not yet known how many are linked to the city cluster.

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Pubs, cafes and restaurants in the city remain closed, while residents have been told not to visit other people’s homes.

People who live there have also been told they should not travel more than five miles unless they have to, such as for work or education.

The restrictions in Aberdeen will be reviewed again on Wednesday.

Meanwhile eight cases each were discovered in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lanarkshire, four each in Lothian and Tayside and one additional case in Orkney.

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There have been no deaths overnight among those who tested positive for the virus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Prevalence across Scotland remains low – and thankfully, another day of no deaths amongst confirmed cases.

“But these figures also tell us that the virus is most definitely still out there.”


How a normal morning train journey turned into a disaster

The deadly derailment killed three men after the train hit a landslip in Aberdeenshire on Wednesday.

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Derailment: Three men were killed after train left tracks in Aberdeenshire.

It started out as a normal Wednesday morning train journey for the nine people on board the 6.30am Aberdeen-Glasgow service.

But heavy rain the previous night had left the track in treacherous condition.

Having failed to get much further than Stonehaven, the ScotRail service turned back – but only as far as a landslip, which sent it careering down an embankment.

Some of the carriages came to a halt upside down and three people – the driver, conductor and a passenger – lost their lives.

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Here’s a full recap of how events unfolded on that morning and since.

What happened?

The five-carriage ScotRail train departed from Aberdeen at 6.38am on Wednesday morning on its way to Glasgow.

After hitting some heavy flooding – due to overnight thunderstorms – on its way down south, the decision was made to head back to Aberdeen.

A short time into the return journey, the train struck a landslip and derailed shortly near Stonehaven. 

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The leading power car continued over the bridge and then fell from the track down a wooded embankment, as did the third carriage. 

The first and second carriages landed on their roofs and the fourth carriage remained upright and attached to the rear power car.

Stonehaven train derailed.
Plumes of smoke billowed from the crash scene.

The alarm was raised around 9.38am as plumes of smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site.

Dozens of emergency service vehicles, including an air ambulance, were called to the area. 

Three people, the driver, the conductor and a passenger, were pronounced dead at the scene.

A further six people were taken to hospital with minor injuries. 

Who were the victims?

Three people died at the scene of the crash. Six others were taken to hospital with injuries and four have since been discharged.

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Train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury were killed.

Deaths: Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Christopher Stuchbury.

Mr McCullough was a 45-year-old father-of-three originally from Bromley in Kent.

He moved to Aberdeenshire to marry his wife and worked out of the Aberdeen depot.

Conductor Mr Dinnie had a lengthy career on the tracks after also working as a driver and a guard.

The 58-year-old left behind a large group of family and friends.

Mr Stuchbury, who was a passenger on the derailed train, worked for a marine services firm in Aberdeen.

The 62-year-old also volunteered at Roxburghe House hospice in his spare time.

A total of nine people, including the crew, were on board the train during the crash.

Did extreme weather play a part?

The derailment happened after the train hit a landslip following a night of thunderstorms and flooding in the area.

The details emerged on Friday from an ongoing probe by the Rail Accident Investigation Board.

The train hit a landslip amid heavy flooding in the area.

On Thursday, the transport secretary said he believed extreme weather played a part in the crash.

During a visit to Stonehaven, Michael Matheson said: “I think it would be reasonable to presume, without unduly speculating, that weather had an impact in this particular incident.”

Michael Matheson visited Stonehaven a day after the derailment.

He added that adverse weather was increasingly having an impact on routes and a probe would reveal whether more mitigation works were needed.

He said: “I think one of the things we will see what comes from the investigation is whether the pace of that type of mitigation work needs to be stepped up, that’s not just a challenge across Scotland, it’s across the whole of the UK.”

How will it be investigated?

A joint investigation is being carried out by Police Scotland, British Transport Police and the Office of Rail and Road.

They will be under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

In parallel, an independent safety investigation is being carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

The branch said it has sent a team of inspectors to the site of a derailment near Stonehaven.

However, railway expert Tony Miles, of Modern Railways Magazine, told STV News a full probe could take “a year or more”.

He said: “Full investigations tend to take up to a year or more because they’ll want to be very careful to make sure that they reach the right conclusions but there might be some very quick lessons learnt from this.”

Timeline of tragedy

Wednesday

6.38am: The Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service departs on time.

6.53am: The service calls at Stonehaven railway station.

7am: The train stops for a landslip between Stonehaven and Carmont railway stations.

9.30am: The train is held up for more than two-and-a-half hours before being moved onto the northbound track to be sent back to Stonehaven.

Shortly after this, the train hit a landslide.

9.38am: A member of the public dials 999 to alert the emergency services.

9.43am: Police Scotland are notified.

Emergency crews raced to the scene of the crash.

11.15am: The multi-agency response – including the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), Scottish Ambulance Service, Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance and HM Coastguard – are pictured working at the scene.

3.30pm: NHS Grampian sets up a help centre at Midstocket Parish Church in Aberdeen for family and friends impacted by the crash.

4.15pm: British Transport Police (BTP) confirm three people died. It was later revealed the fatalities included the train driver and conductor, named locally as Brett McCullough and Donald Dinnie.

8.17pm: The Queen sends a message of condolence, following on from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s statements.

Thursday

8am: The investigation into the fatal crash begins.

8.29am: The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service reveals four firefighters were injured while dealing with the incident.

9.20am: Colleagues pay tribute to train driver Mr McCullough.

scotrail train derailed stonehaven august 12, 2020

12pm: Network Rail confirms it is to carry out detailed inspections of high-risk trackside slopes with similar characteristics to that of the crash site.

12.30pm: Network Rail boss Andrew Haines visits the scene, following on from Scottish Government transport secretary Michael Matheson’s visit. Mr Haines pledges immediate action over the derailment.

12.35pm: The Crown Office confirms a joint investigation by Police Scotland, BTP and the Office of Rail and Road is under way – in parallel to an independent probe by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

1pm: Transport secretary Grant Shapps meets with emergency workers at the site of the derailment.

4.59pm: NHS Grampian confirms four patients have been discharged from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Two others remain in hospital, but in a stable condition.

6.20pm: Police Scotland confirm the name of the third victim as 62-year-old train passenger Chris Stuchbury.


Sturgeon pays tribute to World War generation on VJ day

Saturday marks 75 years since Japan surrendered to the Allied forces on August 15 1945, ending hostilities.

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Sturgeon: Paying tribute.

The First Minister has paid tribute to all those who died during the Second World War on the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.

Nicola Sturgeon said people should be inspired by the “idealism” of those who fought in the war and commit to creating a “better, fairer and more peaceful world”.

Saturday marks 75 years since Japan surrendered to the Allied forces on August 15 1945, ending hostilities.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are due to take part in a private service of remembrance and thanksgiving and then lead a national two-minute silence at 11am in honour of those who lost their lives in the war.

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The Red Arrows are also due to fly over Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London – the first time such a flight has taken place since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Scotland’s Veterans Minister Graeme Dey will join a number of former and serving members of the armed forces to observe a two-minute silence on the steps of St Andrews House, the Scottish Government building in Edinburgh.

Legion Scotland is holding an online service of remembrance and a concert.

Ahead of the anniversary commemorations, the First Minister said: “It was on this date in 1945 that the conflict in the Far East ended and World War Two came to a close.

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“In marking the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, we remember everyone – the soldiers and civilians on all sides – who paid the ultimate price during the conflict.

“We think of those who served in the armed forces – from across Scotland, the UK, the Commonwealth and the other allied nations.

“We remember the pain and suffering of those who spent years in prisoner of war camps.

“And we reflect on all those who contributed to the war effort on the home front – and the sacrifices they made.

“So on this 75th anniversary, let us pay tribute to our World War Two generation.”

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack added: “Today marks the 75th anniversary of VJ day, and our thoughts are with all those who made such huge sacrifices to secure our country’s freedom. Finally, the war was really over.

“The courage of those who fought and endured, so we are able to live freely, must never be forgotten.

“Today, we remember them, we honour them, and we thank them.”

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Legion Scotland will be issuing medallions in honour of those who made a contribution to the war effort.


Driver rescued by firefighters after car hit by train

The man was treated by paramedics after his car was hit by a train on a railway line on Saturday morning.

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Rescue: Driver assisted by fire service after train crash.

A driver has been rescued by firefighters after his car was hit by a train on a railway line.

Emergency services rushed to the scene in Johnstone, Renfrewshire shortly after 6am on Saturday morning.

Firefighters rescued the man from the vehicle before he was treated by paramedics.

Police Scotland have said there are not thought to be any life-threatening injuries as a result of the crash.

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The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service dispatched nine crews to the scene and helped the nine uninjured passengers from the train.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “A report was received around 6.15am on Saturday August 15 that a train had collided with a car near Johnstone, Renfrewshire.

“Emergency services are in attendance and there does not appear to be any life-threatening injuries.”

A spokeswoman for the fire service said: “We were alerted at 6.26am on Saturday August 15 to reports of a collision between a car and a train.

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“Operations Control mobilised nine appliances in total to Janefield Avenue in Johnstone, Renfrewshire.

“Firefighters removed the driver from the car before transferring them into the care of paramedics. There were no other casualties.

“Crews thereafter escorted nine passengers on board the train to safety.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service presently remains at the scene.”


Man attacked after waking up to find intruder in bedroom

Police investigate housebreaking after 44-year-old man assaulted in his home.

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Police: Officers are carrying out door-to-door enquiries.

A man was attacked after an intruder broke into his home in Clackmannanshire.

The 44-year-old man woke up just after 2am on Saturday to find a stranger in his bedroom in Tillicoultry’s High Street.

The bungling housebreaker, who was wearing dark clothing and had a white carrier bag, assaulted him before running out of the house.

The victim was treated at the scene by paramedics.

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Police are carrying out door-to-door enquiries and checking CCTV footage for as they hunt the suspect.

Detective chief inspector Mark Stirling said: “I am appealing to local residents for any information.

“I appreciate the incident occurred in the early hours of this morning, but someone may have been up and heard something or saw something which could assist our enquiries.

“It is imperative we trace this man and any small piece of information could prove significant in our investigation as we try to locate him. I would urge anyone with any information or knowledge to please get in touch with us.

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“I would also like to remind people to ensure their homes are secure. In the warm weather, we can often leave doors and windows unlocked, but please lock up at night.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.


To win it all, Celtic and Rangers stock the shelves

Celtic are aiming for a record tenth successive title and Rangers are desperate to stop them.

How soon is too soon? Just as Joe Aribo put Rangers 3-0 ahead against St Johnstone last weekend, fans on Twitter started talking about racking up the goal difference.

They weren’t talking about going top of the league on goal difference on Saturday night (though the score was enough to do that). Midway through matchday three supporters were already looking towards the end of 38 games and one team needing to better the other on goals scored.

Nobody really needs to reiterate how high the stakes are this season. Celtic is aiming for a record tenth successive title and Rangers are desperate to stop them.

One side will fail to hit their target and if it’s because they weren’t clinical enough then there will be no forgiveness from the stands. Maybe that’s why the Glasgow sides have spent upwards of £10m combined on three forwards in the last two weeks.

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Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten have arrived at Ibrox and both have had a brief taste of action with a chance of more when Steven Gerrard’s side face Livingston on Sunday. Celtic’s new signing Albian Ajeti has a little time to settle in and get used to new surroundings as Celtic sit another game out.

Ajeti’s arrival brings another indication that Celtic will stop at nothing to continue their trophy run and it shows that Neil Lennon is intent on bringing fierce competition to every part of his team.

It also brings a neat symmetry to the front lines on either side of the battle that’s likely to determine the league winners.

Roofe and Itten come into Rangers squad to be weighed against the contributions of Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe. Ajeti will be introduced to fellow Celtic forwards Odsonne Edouard, Leigh Griffiths and Patryk Klimala, who joined in January and has played so few minutes he’s almost a new signing himself.

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There’s a similar pecking order at both clubs, a similar striving for minutes and the possibility of a surfeit of choice for Gerrard and Lennon.

Both managers have shown a strong preference for a system with only one central striker and the position is occupied as it stands. Edouard is the jewel in Celtic’s crown, a generously gifted player who showed his value again and again and again with an opening day hat trick against Hamilton.

Over at Ibrox, Morelos had risen to fame as a prolific scorer and a talismanic presence since arriving from HJK Helsinki. A barren spell and criticism from his manager may have had some question his commitment and contribution but he showed again and again that he remains a dangerous and dependable finisher with a double against St Mirren.

Both seem assured of their place ahead of the new recruits barring a huge drop in form, a major change of system from the managers or a move to another club. Of the three, the latter seems most likely if not imminent.

Morelos has been linked with many sides and Lille reportedly made offers in recent weeks but Rangers insist he’ll go nowhere without a specific price being met. Celtic have shown no indication they want to part with Edouard at the start of a huge season but it’s inconceivable that his form hasn’t caught the attention of the scouts and analysts at Europe’s bigger clubs.

While the August signings might not cause sleepless nights for the main men in either side, their appearance writes a new future for Defoe and Griffiths. A veteran at 37 years old, Defoe arrived at Ibrox knowing he wouldn’t be first choice and the striker, currently injured, will probably have to accept fewer minutes even if he did show his enduring class at every opportunity last season.

Griffiths has had a troubled time, making a comeback from mental health problems to chip in with vital goals in the second half of last season, only to miss out on the start of this one with Lennon criticising him for his condition at one point. Both players have slipped from a position of alternate starter to likely fourth choice in a matter of months.

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Klimala joined Celtic in January but was restricted to cameos as an experienced squad bore down on the title. He’s off the mark already with a goal against Hamilton and looks to have bulked up over summer but his fight to make a mark is now complicated with Ajeti on the scene.

All eight have different styles and qualities and Lennon and Gerrard will be happy to have a set of picks to choose from when they face the stubborn locks the Premiership can put in their way. But equally, each will have their own expectations and demands and a busy schedule still doesn’t provide enough minutes to keep everyone happy, even with five subs allowed per game now.

Every twist and turn in the title race will see the managers’ decisions scrutinised and none will be more visible than the way they deploy their attacking players.

The questions for each team’s front line mirror each other right now but things could change quickly. An irresistible bid for Morelos or Edouard before the transfer deadline could see players fighting to be second choice suddenly thrust into a position of prime responsibility.

Ajeti arrived this week as pure potential, able to find his place while Edouard take the spotlight. Roofe and Itten settle at Ibrox while Morelos continues to dominate headlines.

Edouard and Morelos may remain in place to take a starring role through to the conclusion of the season. But if Lennon and Gerrard’s new signings make their mark as best supporting actors then could have significant bearing on where the title goes.  


VJ Day Red Arrows flypast cancelled due to cloudy weather

The display over Edinburgh was due to mark 75 years since Imperial Japan surrendered during WWII.

Cancelled: Red Arrows flypast halted due to weather conditions.

A Red Arrows flypast over Edinburgh for VJ Day was cancelled due to cloudy weather.

The commemorations to mark 75 years since VJ Day were supposed to include the Red Arrows flying over Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London for the first time since the 2012 Olympic Games.

Hundreds of spectators were gathered in anticipation of the flypast that had been scheduled for approximately 11.30am.

However “low cloud outside of safety limits” in Edinburgh meant the pilots diverted to fly over Prestwick Airport, where they landed to refuel and met three veterans of WWII.

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The Red Arrow’s Twitter account said: “Our aircraft have safely landed @GPAPassenger but, unfortunately, due to low cloud outside of safety limits at #Edinburgh, we could not carry out the flypast over the city.

“Weather particularly challenging in parts of the UK today – meaning this could impact plans.”

The three veterans who were greeted by the Red Arrows were 96-year-old Whitson Johnson, Albert Lamond, 94, and 93-year-old Bernard “Barney” Roberts.

Mr Johnson served in the RAF from 1942 to 1947, deciphering codes in support of the Fourteenth Army in the Far East and also spent time in Bombay, Calcutta, Chittagong, Hmawbi and Burma.

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Royal Navy serviceman Mr Lamond served from 1943 to 1947 as a signalman.

He fought at Sword Beach during the D-Day campaign and was later attached to the Pacific fleet that joined with the American navy under the command of Admiral Halsey in the Far East.

Mr Roberts also served in the Royal Navy, from 1942 to 1947, initially serving on a minelayer to protect the Arctic convoys from German U-boats before fighting in Italy and North Africa.


Teenager treated for leg injury after serious assault

The 19-year-old man was attacked in Balgrayhill Road, Springburn, around 10.45pm on Friday.

Police: Officers investigate attack on Balgrayhill Road, Springburn.

A teenager has been taken to hospital after a serious assault in Glasgow.

The 19-year-old man was attacked in Balgrayhill Road, Springburn, around 10.45pm on Friday.

He was taken to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where he is receiving treatment for a leg injury.

Police have launched an investigation and are appealing for information.

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Officers will also be checking CCTV footage as they look to trace the suspect.

Detective sergeant Stephen Palmer said: “I am appealing to members of the public who were in the area around the time of the incident to get in touch.

“At this time, we do not know the motive for this attack and any small piece of information could assist our enquiries in establishing exactly what has happened and why.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101.


Former Rangers and Scotland player Tom Forsyth dies

The former footballer had scored the winning goal in the 1973 Scottish Cup Final against Celtic.

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Forsyth: Former Rangers defender dies at 71.

Former Rangers and Scotland defender Tom Forsyth has died at the age of 71.

Forsyth made his name at Motherwell between 1967 and 1972 before being signed by Rangers, where he went on to play for the rest of his career.

The defender made 326 appearances for the Ibrox club, including scoring the winning goal in the 1973 Scottish Cup Final against Celtic.

Forsyth scrambled the ball over the line from six inches out to secure the trophy for Rangers.

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Nicknamed ‘Jaws’ he also earned 22 caps for Scotland, including at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina as the country just missed out on qualifying from the group stage.

After hanging up his boots, Forsyth went on to manage Dunfermline and was also assistant manager to former team-mate Tommy McLean at Greenock Morton, Motherwell and Hearts.


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