Charities have called on the Scottish Government to institute a “triple lock” to help tackle rough sleeping.
A total of 19 organisations – including Cyrenians, Turning Point Scotland, Shelter Scotland and Social Bite – have formed a collective called Everyone Home and will deliver a plan to the Scottish Government on Thursday.
Homeless Network chairman Paul McKay said progress has been made to house those sleeping rough since the start of the coronavirus outbreak and this should be harnessed when it subsides.
The group suggested three approaches to help eliminate homelessness – ceasing evictions when the tenant has nowhere else to go, prioritising prevention work and working to prevent a return to pre-pandemic levels of rough sleeping.
Mr McKay said: “The majority of people and organisations in Scotland that care about homelessness agree that the Scottish Government’s Ending Homelessness Together Plan is the right approach and we were making progress.
“However, the onset of this pandemic demanded a rapid response to keep people safe.
“Since March, we have managed to accommodate and support all those who wanted to be indoors, including people with no recourse to public funds such as people seeking asylum in Scotland.”
He added: “Throughout, local and national government, charities, health and housing associations have worked together.
“It is now imperative to secure that progress. The pandemic will have a disproportionate impact on people who experience all types of disadvantage, potentially driving up homelessness.
“By implementing the measures outlined in this plan, Scotland has a unique window to end rough sleeping and mitigate the impact of all forms of homelessness.”
Alison Watson, the deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said the pandemic has “exposed the deep divisions” in the country.
“The remarkable effort to move people off the streets and to protect tenants facing eviction shows what can be done when the will is there,” she said.
“But these are temporary measures and there is a real risk that more people will be swept into homelessness in the months ahead.
“There can be no return to the failed housing system of the past, no more sticking plaster solutions.
“We need bold action that ensures we have the homes we need, that people’s housing rights are enforced and that individuals have the support they need for a safe future.”
Earlier this month, the Scottish Government created a new regulation to ensure homeless people are housed in high quality accommodation.
It ensures people will only be housed in a bed and breakfast for up to one week before being able to move to a more settled home.
In February, National Records of Scotland statistics showed 195 homeless people died in temporary accommodation or on the street in 2018, an increase of 19% from the previous year.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Thanks to a rapid and co-ordinated response, hundreds of people previously sleeping rough or in unsuitable B&Bs or night shelters are now being supported in hotels or other self-contained accommodation. Outreach services are reporting that there are no more than 30 people sleeping rough across Scotland.
“This will continue in Scotland, however settled accommodation with the correct support measures continues to be the best way of solving homelessness in the longer term.”
He highlighted coronavirus legislation to protect tenants against eviction for up to six months, adding: “The pandemic has shown what we can do if we work together to address social issues. It has been challenging and will remain so but we are determined to ensure everyone has a secure and settled home once the crisis ends.”
The education secretary has insisted the Scottish Government’s aim is for students to be able to return home this Christmas.
John Swinney said ensuring the safe return of students to their families for the festive season is “at the heart of our thinking” amid surging coronavirus cases on university campuses.
But this weekend, he urged students – even those who test negative for Covid-19 – to socialise only within their households and not to go out.
Speaking to the BBC, Swinney said students staying in accommodation would minimise Covid’s spread to other parts of the country.
Reports on Sunday claimed that some living in halls of residence had returned to their family home due to the circumstances.
The education secretary said: “Our advice to students is that they should stay in their halls if they are able to do so and that’s to ensure that we minimise the spread of the virus around the country.
“It’s important that any student that is self-isolating or students in general in the situation that they are facing are given the full and proper support of the college or the university that is supporting them, and that’s an issue that we’ve prioritised in our discussions with universities in the course of the past few days.”
Looking ahead, Swinney said getting students home for Christmas is a “really important” part of the government’s considerations.
He said: “It’s a bit of time away (Christmas), but it’s an absolute priority for the Scottish Government that first and foremost students are safe and are supported and are able to participate in their education.
“We also want to make sure that students are supported in every aspect of their wellbeing and crucially being able to get back home to families at Christmas time is a really important part of that work and that’s very much at the heart of our thinking.”
On Saturday, Glasgow University announced an increase in the support it would offer students in accommodation, including a refund of one month’s rent and a £50 food payment.
Asked if the Scottish Government would consider funding institutions across the country to bring in similar measures, the education secretary said they would consider any issues raised by universities principals.
Swinney added: “Glasgow University has taken what I think is a bold and very appropriate move in the course of the last 24 hours.”
At the time, unlike now, people with symptoms were simply told to stay home for seven days to try to get better.
Generally speaking, only those whose condition deteriorated to the point of needing hospital treatment were tested.
This meant that as Scotland’s epidemic peaked during the month of April, in fact the country was only testing an average of about 1300 people per day – and sometimes considerably less.
That’s peanuts compared to the figures posted most days now.
Meanwhile, the Scottish and UK governments were building up their testing capacities, albeit not as quickly as some would have liked.
Their chief weapon was the new UK Government-managed regional testing network, with Scottish centres predominantly based at the country’s airports.
But this separate branch of testing data caused all sorts of havoc for those updating the Scottish Government’s spreadsheets, with huge gluts of test results dumped on them in mid-June which dated back months.
And then again, in early July, a whole tranche of backlogged data related to home testing kits and care home tests was belatedly added to the daily totals, meaning test figures in Scotland suddenly skyrocketed.
Since then, we’ve been consistently looking at far higher testing numbers than at any previous point in the pandemic.
They peaked in late August and early September, with the country seeing nearly 30,000 tests carried out on a number of days, testing around 16,000 Scots each time.
Since then, however, those figures have fallen back quite a bit, to an average of around 17,000 daily tests in September – or about 7400 people tested per day.
The difference between daily tests and newly-tested people is to do with the amount of individuals who are being repeat-tested, for example, care home workers.
Retail crime experts are warning of a rise in shoplifters exploiting the compulsory use of masks during the pandemic.
Maxine Fraser of Retailers Against Crime (RAC) says that shops, which have suffered a drop in sales, are being hit harder than ever by theft.
She told STV News: “Obviously we understand the need for everyone to wear masks but it is adding to the difficulties in identifying those who steal.
“These are often sophisticated gangs of criminals who travel across the country.
“They have been quick to take advantage of face coverings to make their lives easier and the lives of shop and security workers harder.”
Stirling-based RAC has around 1500 retailer members across Scotland, Northern Ireland and north west England.
They receive and share information about shoplifters and other criminals such as credit card fraudsters.
A page from the organisation’s most recent “identification sought gallery” document, shared with STV News, shows unknown masked suspects, some of whom are described as violent.
Ms Fraser said that some criminals continually change masks in order to make identification eve more difficult.
She added: “These businesses are trying to protect their staff in the most challenging of economic circumstances and now they also have this to deal with.
“The criminal justice system needs to step up and ensure there is a meaningful deterrent.”
Jim McFedries, RAC chairman and head of profit protection at Scotmid Co-Op, said: “I have seen first-hand how this has impacted our front line colleagues and shrinkage.
“Both opportunist and prolific offenders have taken advantage of masks wearing to conceal their identity, disguising themselves at a time when our front line colleagues are thin on the ground and someone wearing a mask is the ‘new norm’.”
The number of reported crimes by RAC members in March was 742. Following lockdown, that dropped to 394 in April but in July it was 859 with 994 reported in August.
RAC also warns about an uplift in threats and violence towards workers.
Mr McFedries added: “We have had an increase in violence towards colleagues ranging from verbal abuse to actual physical violence in a bid to get away with stock in hand.”
The British Retail Consortium reported in March that total losses to retail crime in 2019 rose to £1bn with customer theft accounting for more than 75% of the total.
The mother of a child who died in a flagship hospital is seeking compensation from the health board.
Kimberly Darroch, whose 10-year-old daughter Milly Main died in 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow after contracting an infection, has launched legal action against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Ms Darroch believes that Milly, who was recovering from leukaemia treatment, died as a result of contaminated water at the £842m hospital.
However, an independent review published in June found there were no avoidable deaths caused by the design and maintenance of the building.
Ms Darroch told the Scottish Sun on Sunday: “We still feel in the dark about what happened to our beloved daughter.
“It’s incredibly painful to relive our ordeal, but we are determined to deliver justice for Milly and answers for all affected patients and parents.
“Our hope is that by taking action we can ensure no other family ever has to go through what we did.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We continue to offer our sympathies to Milly Main’s family for their loss.
“We remain keen to meet with Milly’s family and we would be happy to arrange this if they would like to discuss Milly’s care.”
An inquiry was launched by health secretary Jeane Freeman last year after the deaths of two adults and a child from infections at the hospital.
The investigation started last month and is chaired by Lord Brodie.
Delays to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh will also be scrutinised, after Freeman stepped in to halt the move of patients between sites over fears around the ventilation system.
Two surfers have been rescued after being swept out to sea near Aberdeen.
The RNLI launched two lifeboats around 9am on Sunday to rescue the pair following a call from a member of the public concerned for their safety.
The surfers had paddled out beyond the surf line and were being swept out to sea and were unable to make their way back due to a combination of tide and wind against them.
Inshore lifeboat ‘Buoy Woody 85N’ was first on scene with a crew of three, having been guided to the surfers location – around half a mile offshore at the Footdee end of Aberdeen beach – by Aberdeen Coastguard Rescue Team volunteers ashore.
The two experienced surfers were uninjured but said they were both exhausted, having been in the water for almost two hours.
They and their equipment were taken aboard the lifeboat to be returned to shore.
With conditions worsening, it was decided the safest means of rescue would be to transfer the surfers to all-weather lifeboat ‘Bon Accord’, which had arrived at the scene in the calmer water beyond the surf line.
Cal Reed, Aberdeen Lifeboat’s coxswain, said: “We took the surfers on board ‘Bon Accord’ and our casualty care-qualified crew confirmed they were none the worse for their experience – but grateful for the offer of assistance from the lifeboat.”
“The member of the public who made the initial phone call did the right thing: if you think you see someone in difficulty at sea, always call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
“Bon Accord returned the surfers and their equipment to the lifeboat berth in Aberdeen Harbour where they met the Coastguard Rescue Team around 9.20am.
“The lifeboats were washed down and readied for further service by 10am.”
The number of coronavirus cases linked to student halls in Dundee has risen to 52.
Contact tracing at Parker House, a private student accommodation, is ongoing with all 500 residents continuing to self-isolate.
Confirmed infections there have risen to 49 after a single Abertay University student initially tested positive.
Parker House residents began self-isolating on Wednesday and could have to quarantine for a fortnight.
However, the self-isolation time may be reduced for some students dependent on their Covid test results.
NHS Tayside warned the number of positive cases linked to the accommodation is expected to rise as test results continue to come back.
Meanwhile, Abertay’s Meadowside Hall residence, which houses 69 students, has now had three Covid-19 cases confirmed.
Close contacts of the three cases are being contacted and provided with appropriate advice and will be supported if they have to self-isolate.
Meadowside Hall residents have not yet been told to self-isolate en masse although testing kits have been delivered to them.
All university and college campuses and all other student accommodation and halls of residence in Dundee remain open.
Local public health officials are also investigating “a number” of coronavirus cases linked to the city’s Captain’s Cabin pub.
The venue has closed voluntarily to undergo deep cleaning and all staff have been recommended to book a test.
Contact tracing of the positive cases continues with those identified as close contacts by Test and Protect told to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Anyone who has visited Captain’s Cabin over the last week should watch out for Covid symptoms and should self-isolate and get a test if any symptoms develop, officials said.
NHS Tayside’s associate director of public health Dr Daniel Chandler, who is heading up the incident management team, said: “We are continuing to work closely with our colleagues to monitor this ongoing situation and to ensure there is support in place for students should they need it.
“There have been no reports of positive cases experiencing serious illness or complications.”
He added: “We are expecting an increase in the number of students moving to the local area this weekend ahead of starting their courses, and our university and college colleagues have put in place a number of measures to help protect the student population and to limit the spread of the virus.
“We understand that this is an anxious time and I would like to reassure for students and their loved ones that welfare support and advice is in place for anyone who requires support at this time.
“I would like to again thank residents of Parker House and Meadowside for their continued support and understanding, and to reaffirm how much of a contribution to the overall effort towards slowing and stopping the spread of Covid-19 they are making by following all the precautions.”
Drive-through flu jab centres have opened in Edinburgh to ensure the vaccine can still be administered during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The centres will aim to vaccinate up to 500 people per day and will operate every weekend until December.
Established by the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership (EHSCP), the drive-throughs are aimed at ensuring the 150,000 eligible people in the city can receive their vaccination.
Judith Proctor, chief officer of EHSCP, said: “As part of our mission to support a caring, healthier and safer Edinburgh, we’re committed to making it even easier to get a flu vaccine this year.
“The flu vaccine is an important health protection measure and we want to make sure that everyone who is eligible has access to the vaccine.
“To keep the people of Edinburgh safe, and to respect physical distancing measures, we have confirmed a range of Edinburgh venues to offer access to the flu vaccine, including a drive-through service at sites across the city.
“This is the first time a drive-through model has been used for vaccinations in Scotland, and could provide a blueprint for how to deliver vaccination programmes successfully in the future.
“Details of where people can go to receive a flu vaccine will be available on the NHS Inform website.”
Walk-in clinics will be available for those without a car.
On Friday, interim deputy chief medical officer Dr Nicola Steedman urged Scots to ensure they get the flu jab to avoid the risk of contracting coronavirus and flu at the same time, which she described as “extremely serious”.