Contactless payment limit rises in key supermarket changes

The spending limit for contactless card payments will rise to £45 from the current £30 during the coronavirus outbreak.

Supermarkets and convenience stores are implementing a raft of changes to protect customers and staff during the coronavirus outbreak.

One of the key measures that will come into effect on April 1 is the spending limit for contactless card payments will rise to £45 from the current £30.

Trade association UK Finance said changes already under consideration by the industry have been speeded up as part of the industry’s response to tackling the Covid-19 virus.

Stephen Jones, CEO of UK Finance, said: “This will give more people the choice to opt for the speed and convenience of purchasing goods using their contactless card, helping to cut queues at the checkout.”

It is hoped the move will cut down on cash transactions and the need to handle currency notes.

Some of the other key changes introduced at supermarkets during the crisis include:

Screens in front of cashiers – Supermarkets are installing plastic protective screens at the checkout to protect against coughs and sneezes. Morrisons said its screens are 1.5 metres wide and almost one metre tall. They will inform customers of social distancing measures, while also directing them to the small windows for payments. 

Priority shopping hours – Many supermarket have introduced priority shopping hours to allow the elderly and vulnerable to access goods in a quieter setting. Among the current priority hours are:

  • Tesco – Between 9am and 10am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (except Express stores).
  • Sainsbury’s – Between 8am and 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to serving elderly customers, disabled customers and carers.
  • Asda – Vulnerable groups have priority access from store opening time to 9am.
  • Waitrose – First opening hour at each Waitrose supermarket.
  • Iceland – First trading hour every day.

NHS staff perks – Many supermarkets have brought in measures to make life easier for people employed by the National Health Service. These include setting aside essential products, priority checkout service and dedicated shopping hours.

Limiting customer numbers – Many supermarkets are adhering to public health guidance on social distancing by limiting the number of people inside the store at any one time and closing public spaces such as cafes. Marshals have been deployed to manage queues, reminding customers of the two-metre social distancing rule. 

Bolstering click-and-collect – Supermarkets are adding more click and collect locations with virtually no delivery slots available for the next month.

Limits on certain products – Limits have been placed on many high-in-demand products such as dried pasta, hand soap, tinned goods, sanitiser gel and toilet roll in a bid to prevent stockpiling of essential items.

Contactless handover of goods – It’s not just supermarkets getting in on the act. Smaller convenience stores such as Nisa have adopted a policy that sees customers point at the items they want on a chart; staff members then collect the items and pass them through a window.

Coronavirus: Seven more deaths in Scotland takes total to 40

The death toll from Covid-19 in Scotland has risen to 40 from 33 while there are 1245 cases - up 186.

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Coronavirus: Message to drivers on M8.

The death toll from coronavirus in Scotland has risen by seven in the last 24 hours, taking total patient deaths to 40.

Confirmed Scottish cases of Covid-19 have increased by 186 in a day to 1245, the Scottish Government also confirmed.

A total of 13,133 tests on patients in Scotland have been concluded, with 11,888 people testing negative.

Cases in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area have jumped by 77 since Friday to stand at 376.

Source: Scottish Government

NHS Lanarkshire has reported a rise of 25 cases, up to 165, and NHS Lothian is up 12 cases to 151, while NHS Tayside is unchanged on 107.

Fourteen more cases have been found in Forth Valley, taking the health board’s total to 95, and there are 15 more in Ayrshire and Arran, taking total patients to 90.

There are 60 cases in Dumfries and Galloway, up 13, 52 in the Grampian area, up seven, and 51 in Fife, up ten.

NHS Highland has 36, a rise of three since Friday, NHS Borders has 35, an increase of seven, and NHS Shetland has 27, a rise of three.

No cases have been reported by NHS Orkney or NHS Western Isles.

Meanwhile, the UK Government reported that as of 5pm on Friday, 1019 people diagnosed with the virus in the UK have died – up 260 in the last 24 hours, a rise of more than a third.

As of 9am on Saturday, there are 17,089 patients with coronavirus in the UK.

These figures are highly likely to be underestimates.

More to follow

Nurse raises thousands for patients with coronavirus

Alison Williams launched the crowdfunding page after seeing how 'desperately unwell' patients with coronavirus are.

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary: Staff have seen first hand how patients are suffering.

A nurse has raised thousands of pounds to help patients with coronavirus after seeing first hand how “desperately unwell” they have become.

Alison Williams from Edinburgh launched the crowdfunding page in a bid to raise money for essential items needed by those hospitalised with the covid-19 virus in Lothian and “potentially beyond”.

The page, which had an initial target on £500, has already raised over £4000 since it was launched on Saturday morning.

That number continues to grow as donations come flooding.

Alison says they are looking for donations that will help them purchase pyjamas, toiletries and Ipads to allow them to keep in contact with families after seeing how “desperately unwell” they are.

On the JustGiving page she said: “Unfortunately staff working in the COVID positive wards at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary are seeing first hand how desperately unwell these people are and how little they have.

“Without any visitors, and families at home in isolation they have little or no clothing and toiletries.

“We’re looking to purchase men’s/ladies pyjamas, toiletries and, if donations permit, hospital ipads to allow them to keep in touch with their families at such a difficult time.

“We appreciate that things are difficult for everyone right now but if you can help someone in the most difficult of times if would be very much appreciated.”

You can donate to the crowdfunding page here.

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Scottish Secretary Jack develops coronavirus symptoms

The Conservative MP has not been tested but is self-isolating.

Jack: Self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack is self-isolating after developing mild symptoms of coronavirus.

The Conservative MP for Dumfries and Galloway said he has a mild temperature and a cough.

He has not been tested for Covid-19 but is self-isolating and working from home.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed on Friday that they have tested positive for Covid-19 while England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said that he has symptoms.

Jack said: “In the past 24 hours, I have developed mild symptoms associated with coronavirus.

“In line with medical guidance, I am self-isolating and working from home.”

The MP has been at home in his constituency since Wednesday.

Johnson, Hancock and Mr Whitty are all self-isolating and continuing to work.

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Coronavirus: Dentists fear they could close without support

More than 600 dentists have warned the government their services risk being 'decimated'.

For anyone with a toothache, getting an appointment at your dentist is no longer an option.  

This week saw practices close their doors to all patients to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.  

Some fear a lack of financial support could force them to close down.  

More than 600 dentists have signed a letter to the Scottish Government urging them to intervene to prevent NHS dental practices from being “decimated”.

Dentists are now dealing with queries on the phone, with the most serious cases referred to central hubs such as health centres or dental hospitals.

If a patient is showing no Covid-19 symptoms they can be given advice or a prescription.

Only serious cases including swelling, bleeding or trauma are sent to a designated site such as a health centre or dental hospital.

Last week the Scottish Government agreed to continue to pay practices 90% of NHS funding.

However, dentists that rely more heavily on patient charges could see their finances hit hard.

Drew Gibson runs two NHS practices in Bearsden, with around 13,000 registered patients.

“I think there will be a significant number of practices that will be in financial difficulty in a short period of time,” he said.

“Medical, pharmaceutical, optical and so on are receiving 100% funding and that is something that we are not receiving at this moment in time and I would certainly urge the Scottish Government to look at that purely from the viability of the jobs within dental practices and so on.”

However, officials say they are doing all they can to keep all practices open.

Chief dental officer for Scotland Tom Ferris told STV: “We are working really hard in the background to see if we can identify additional resource to support those practices that are more dependent on that patient charge for revenue.  

“They are not going to have no hit.  Every business is going to take a bit of a hit from this process and there will be an impact on practices.  

“We hope to do as much as we can to make sure they are in the place to ride out that storm and be there for us when we get to the other end.”

Details of additional funding are expected next week.

Dogs from self-isolating homes ‘should be kept on lead’

Dogs from households which are self-isolating 'should be kept on the lead in public'.

Holyrood: New guidelines issued for dog owners.

Dogs from households which are self-isolating should be kept on the lead in public, according to new guidelines from the Scottish Government.

It is urging all animal owners to plan how they would care for them if they had to self-isolate.

The Scottish Government said that currently there is no evidence that livestock or companion animals such as dogs and cats can be infected with coronavirus.

However, dogs from self-isolating households should not be let off the lead while in public and people exercising their pets should follow social distancing measures.

Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon MSP said: “Guidance should be followed by all animal owners to help prevent the spread of this virus. We will continue to review these guidelines regularly.

“If your household is self-isolating, take time to plan how you will exercise your pet, ensuring that you avoid all contact with other members of the public.

“If you are too unwell to care for your pet and do not have anyone nearby who can help, please phone the Scottish SPCA animal helpline for further advice and support.

“As everyone must observe social distancing rules, all animal owners should take time to consider suitable areas to walk or exercise their pets, avoiding contact with other people.

“Livestock owners who are concerned about how to care for their animals can contact the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI) for help and advice.”

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NHS staff get Aldi priority access as Lidl donate food

All NHS, police and fire service workers are to be given priority access to Aldi stores.

Supermarkets: Thank you to NHS.

All NHS, police and fire service workers have been given priority access to Aldi stores around the clock, the supermarket has announced.

And Lidl will donate thousands of fresh fruit and vegetable bags to NHS staff.

All emergency service workers will have priority access to Aldi stores from Saturday.

It means where shop workers are limiting the number of customers, any emergency worker with a relevant form of ID will be allowed to enter as soon as social distancing guidelines permit.

Earlier this week, Aldi announced that it would be opening half an hour early on Sunday morning solely for key workers as a thank you to NHS staff, Police and the Fire Service.

In an initiative run in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service, the fruit and veg bags from Lidl will be distributed to frontline NHS staff at hospital sites across the country over the weekend.

Christian Härtnagel, CEO at Lidl GB, said: “We are so grateful to the NHS and all of its staff for their hard work every day to help keep the nation safe.

“This is our small gesture to say thank you, and help provide NHS staff, who may not be able to get into store regularly for basic groceries, with fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We hope that through working with Royal Voluntary service to donate these bags to hospitals, we can help make a difference to their daily life.”

The news follows Lidl’s recent announcement that it will be rolling out its customer food donation boxes in stores nationwide, as part of its Feed it Back scheme, and donating £100,000 to its partnership with Neighbourly, to help vulnerable people and children. 

Meanwhile other supermarkets have been bringing in a range of measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic and support staff.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and Iceland all announced priority access for NHS staff earlier in the week.

And Morrisons installed new protective screens at all store checkouts.

Teen coughed on health worker and said she had coronavirus

A teenage boy coughed in the woman's face and told her she had coronavirus.

Appeal: Police are looking for witnesses.

Police are hunting a teenager who assaulted a health worker by deliberately coughing on her and telling her she had coronavirus in Banchory.

The woman was driving along the unclassified road between Inchmarlo Golf Course to Brathen Wood on Friday when she noticed the boy sitting on the ground and waving to attract her attention.

When she stopped the car he ran up to her and coughed in her face before laughing and saying she now had the virus.

The youth then ran off into the woods where he is believed to have joined a group of others.

The incident took place at around 1.40pm.

Police are now looking to trace the suspect who is described as being around 5ft6 and aged between 13 and 16-years-old with a slim build and a local accent.

He was wearing a light grey hoodie, a black jacket and black or dark blue joggers.

Police say the incident is being treated as assault.

Sergeant Garry Garrow, of Banchory Police Station, said: “This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. It left the woman distressed and fearful.

“I am appealing to anyone who saw what happened to get in touch, particularly if they saw this youth before or after the assault, or know who he is.

“I would also ask parents to remind their children that this kind of behaviour is more than just a prank, it can cause genuine fear and increased anxiety in the current climate.

“Officers will not tolerate anyone behaving like this and take robust action to find those responsible.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “Scotland’s prosecution service will take action to protect public safety at all times and has a range of responses available to tackle unacceptable criminal conduct that may arise during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Any person who deliberately endangers life, or spreads fear and alarm by pretending to do so, will be dealt with robustly.

“It is difficult to imagine a more compelling case for prosecution in the public interest.

“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is working closely with Police Scotland to ensure continued effective investigation and prosecution of crime that places public safety as a priority.”

Anyone with information that can assist with enquiries is asked to call Police Scotland on 101.

Family appeal for help to find missing 80-year-old man

Mr Porteous was last seen at around 10am on Saturday March 21.

Missing: Family in appeal for assistance.

The family of an elderly man missing for a week have urged anyone with information about his whereabouts to get in touch.

Thomas Brian Porteous, 80, was last seen at his home in Woodburn Court in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire at around 10am on Saturday March 21.

Searches of the area have found no trace of him.

The family of Mr Porteous, known as Brian, urged him to let them or police know he is safe, and asked anyone with information about where he might be to get in touch.

In a statement issued through police they said: “Brian is 80 years old but looks younger than his age.

“He is fairly mobile and has a quiet nature. It is not like him not to be in touch. We want to get him home safely as we miss him.”

Mr Porteous is described as white, 5ft 5in, of slim build, with white hair.

His family believe that on the morning he disappeared he was wearing a dark green hooded coat, navy chino-style trousers, a short-sleeved white and navy checked shirt and brown suede walking shoes.

Inspector Roger Bond said: “We have been making extensive inquiries over the last week to try to find Brian and searches will be continuing.

“Officers will be going out whilst adhering to current safe working practices.

“In particular I would appeal to anyone who may have dash-cam footage from the Woodburn Court area around the time when Brian went missing to get in touch as this may be vital information in working out his movements.

“I would also appeal to anyone with private CCTV footage to check it and see if there is anything that might help with our inquiries.

“I would urge local people not to carry out their own searches due to the current nationwide advice to stay at home.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101

Seven ways to stay entertained without leaving the house

Wondering how to keep the whole family entertained during lockdown? Here's seven fun ideas.

Relax: How to stay home and keep entertained.

As we enter the first weekend of lockdown following strict measures put in place by the government, some may be thinking of ways to entertain themselves without leaving the house.

As outdoor exercise is limited to one walk, run or cycle per day, non-essential travel discouraged and trips to the shops only for essential items, it may seem difficult to find ways to entertain the family.

Thanks to modern technology however, companies are helping people stay connected while enjoying culture, art and even a trip to the zoo.

For the whole family

Movie night

Since a trip to the cinema will be off the cards for a while, recreate the experience at home with all your favourite foods and a couple of your favourite films.

Make up a batch of popcorn and settle down for a Netflix party, Pixabay

Serve up hot dogs and fresh popcorn for snacks and let little kids write up ticket stubs for entry into your living room. 

You can expand the fun by including family members who live outwith the home, by utilising software such as Netflix Party, which allows different devices to sync up and watch the same movie or television show at the same time, with a chat function also embedded.

Trip to the zoo

Penguins, tigers and pandas, oh my!

As zoos across the country close their doors to the public, it may seem strange to suggest an afternoon looking at interesting wildlife.

But thanks to technology, you can still see some of your favourite animals at Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park.

You can watch Yang Guang live on the zoo’s webcams. RZSS

Live cameras positioned around the parks capture the animals as they continue to be looked after by staff, and you can even look at other zoos across the UK to see a plethora of different creatures.

Take a Harry Potter tour

If plans to visit the Harry Potter studios in London or even the theme park in the US have been postponed, then these special tours from See Your City will bring a little magic to the whole family from the comfort of your own home.

Potter fans can take a virtual tour around London or Edinburgh. Warner Bros

Choosing from either London or Edinburgh, the live tour guide will sort you into a Hogwarts house before showing you around the city, talking about how the sites relate to the Harry Potter series. 

Test your Potter knowledge with fun games and quizzes and even try and outsmart your guide in this fun virtual tour which can accommodate up to ten people.

For the adults

Watch a West End play

The National Theatre has dug around its archives and will be streaming some of its top West End productions each week on YouTube.

First up is One Man, Two Guvnors, which features a Tony Award-winning performance from James Cordon in the lead role. A hilarious slapstick adventure, Francis Henshall, played by Corden, aims to keep his two employers from finding out about each other.

Twelfth Night, Jane Eyre and Treasure Island will also feature during the company’s closure, with each play streaming on YouTube on Thursdays at 7pm and available for one week afterwards. 

Although each show is free, The National Theatre is encouraging online audiences to donate to the company to ensure its survival.

See some stand up comedy

Premiering last weekend, comedy club The Stand brought fresh material from some of the country’s top comics straight into homes thanks to its Saturday night live stream and it’s back again this weekend.

Frankie Boyle will perform as part of the online comedy gig. PA

Streaming from 8.30pm, stars such as Frankie Boyle, Daniel Sloss, Janey Godley and Jim Smith will have audiences howling from their own homes and the show can be streamed from YouTube on your phone, tablet, computer or smart tv.

Donations to The Stand are welcome, which will go towards supporting staff and acts, while ensuring the famous club survives these trying times.

Take a tour around an art gallery

If holiday plans have been cancelled or you just fancy looking at some works of art from the comfort of your living room, then browsing some of the world’s top virtual gallery tours will be right up your street.

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Durant le confinement, un paysage par jour issu des collections d'Orsay. Aujourd'hui, "La Nuit étoilée" de Vincent van Gogh: Dès son arrivée à Arles en 1888, la représentation d'"effets de nuit" constitue une préoccupation pour Van Gogh. En avril, il écrit à son frère: "Il me faut une nuit étoilée avec des cyprès ou, peut-être, au-dessus d'un champ de blé mur". En septembre, à sa soeur: "Souvent, il me semble que la nuit est encore plus richement colorée que le jour". Il peint d'abord un coin de ciel nocturne dans "La terrasse d'un café à Arles" (@krollermullermuseum). La vue du Rhône vient après. Les bleus dominent, les lumières à gaz brillent d'un orange intense et se reflètent. Les étoiles scintillent comme des pierres précieuses. Quelques mois plus tard, interné, Van Gogh peint une autre version : le "Ciel étoilé" ( @themuseumofmodernart), où s'exprime la violence de sa psychologie troublée. Les arbres sont comme des flammes, les étoiles tourbillonnent dans une vision cosmique. Dans "La nuit étoilée" d'Orsay, la présence d'amoureux en bas renforce l'atmosphère sereine. . During the lockdown, we share each day a famous landscape of our collections. Today, Van Gogh's "Starry Night over the Rhone". From his arrival in Arles in 1888, Van Gogh was preoccupied with the representation of "night effects". In April, he wrote to his brother: "I need a starry night with cypresses or maybe above a field of ripe wheat." In September, to his sister: "Often it seems to me night is even more richly coloured than day". He first painted a corner of nocturnal sky in "Cafe Terrace, Arles" (@krollermullermuseum). Next came this view of the Rhône. Blues prevail, the city lights glimmer an intense orange and are reflected in the water. Stars sparkle like gemstones. A few months later, confined to a mental institution, Van Gogh painted another version (@themuseumofmodernart), in which his troubled psyche is fully expressed. Trees are like flames, stars whirl in a cosmic vision. Orsay’s Starry Night is more serene, an atmosphere reinforced by the presence of a couple of lovers at the bottom. . #museedorsay #museeorsay #orsaymuseum #culturecheznous @culture_gouv @franck_riester

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From the National Gallery in London to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and even the Vatican Museums in Rome, there are countless works of art to be admired thanks to walk-around tours and 360-degree video resources online.

Transport yourself to the New York Opera

The Met Opera in New York has also opened its archives to stream a different opera each evening on its website for free.

While opera may not be your first choice of evening entertainment, the chance to see first class shows with stunning visuals (as well as english subtitles) may sway you to look outside your comfort zone.

Each show will stream around midnight thanks to the time difference, but will be available to watch for up to 24 hours after streaming. Upcoming performances include Don Carlo and Macbeth, recorded in 2010 and 2014 respectively. 

Much like The National Theatre, The Met Opera have also asked for donations in exchange for the service. 

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