Live: Coronavirus updates as Scotland goes into lockdown

A mass lockdown is under way in the UK as non-essential shops are ordered to close and non-key workers are told to stay at home.

Live blog: Coronavirus. Pixabay
Live blog: Coronavirus.

7.49pm – ScotRail’s warning to passengers

ScotRail has fired a warning to passengers after used tissues have been found on train tables and seats.

Staff have been left to pick up after people, which the train operator said “isn’t fair on anyone”.

The operator said: “We’re seeing numerous reports from crews of dirty tissues being left on tables and seats. This isn’t fair on anyone.

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“Our Train Presentation teams regularly clean our bins – inside and out – so please use them.”

7.40pm – Rangers player tests positive for coronavirus

Rangers defender Ross McCrorie – who is currently out on loan – has tested positive for coronavirus.

The 22-year-old, who is on the books at Portsmouth this season, is the fifth player at the English League One side to be diagnosed with Covid-19.

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7pm – Campsites and caravan parks to close to visitors

Campsites and caravan and holiday parks are to close to visitors in response to the spread of coronavirus.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing made the announcement on Tuesday after a raft of sweeping measures were introduced by the UK Government.

Under the new plans, parks will close immediately to new arrivals and those occupying holiday homes or lets will be instructed to return home.

6.12pm – Coronavirus powers will be brought in immediately

Holyrood will act immediately to bring in new powers to clamp down on gatherings and shut down non-essential businesses that open up in the coronavirus outbreak.

The UK Coronavirus Bill is expected to gain royal assent on Wednesday, with MSPs unanimously passing a legislative consent motion in support of it on Tuesday.

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The Scottish Parliament, which is now sitting only only one day each week, will have 28 days to approve the introduction of the powers.

Scotland’s Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell confirmed the Scottish Government will act to introduce the new powers as soon as emergency legislation at Westminster is passed.

He also pledged their use will be kept under constant review, in line with scientific advice.

Mr Russell told MSPs: “We have now taken the decision, as part of our response, to commence upon royal assent the powers within the Bill, which will ensure that all necessary enforcement action can be taken to implement social distancing and restriction on gatherings, events and operation of business activity without further delay.”

6pm – Pupils’ coursework will not be marked this year

Coursework completed by senior school pupils in Scotland will not be marked due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has said.

The move applies to those sitting Higher and Advanced Higher courses and follows the cancellation of exams this year and the closure of most schools to all but the children of key workers.

Completed coursework can still be used by teachers and lecturers to help them estimate grades.

The decision was taken after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s address on Sunday, in which she instructed young people who still have coursework to complete not to attend school.

SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson said current public health advice “has meant that we have had to make some really difficult decisions about coursework”.

She said: “This means that for this year, schools and colleges are not required to submit learner coursework for marking, in Higher and Advanced Higher courses.”

5.43pm – Helicopter view shows vacant Buchanan Street in Glasgow

Helicopter view: Buchanan Street, Glasgow. Police Scotland

An image captured by a Police Scotland helicopter has shown people are heeding isolation advice in Glasgow.

With the shops shut and people told only to leave their houses for a small number of essential reasons, the city’s normally bustling Buchanan Street is empty.

Sharing the image on social media, police said: “Remember government advice and stay at home.”

5.34pm – Police to have powers to arrest isolation flouters by end of month

Police will have the power to arrest people flouting the government’s coronavirus guidance and force them into isolation, Scotland’s justice secretary has announced.

Defying the measures introduced in response to the Covid-19 outbreak will be a criminal offence, with officers able to detain culprits to protect public health.

The powers are expected to come into force by the end of the month.

Humza Yousaf also revealed inmates could be released if the prison system is overwhelmed by coronavirus.

4.57pm – Buckfast production temporarily halted during pandemic

The production of Buckfast tonic wine has ceased with ‘immediate effect’ as a result of stringent new measures introduced to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

The company that manufactures the drink says its distribution network will now be freed up to play its part in “delivering vital essential commodities across the United Kingdom at this time”.

4.35pm – Evictions to be banned for six months

Evictions from the private and social rented sector will be banned for six months under emergency coronavirus legislation.

The move was confirmed by communities secretary Aileen Campbell in the Scottish Parliament, as she said “nobody, as a result of the ability to cope with this pandemic, should lose their house”.

3pm – Companies given acmes to £1bn business support fund

A £1bn business support fund has opened to help companies deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Scotland’s finance secretary announced.

More than 90,000 ratepayers across the country will be able to benefit from the one-off grants, which are designed to help protect jobs, prevent business closures and promote economic recovery, the Scottish Government said.

2.57pm – Livingston offer shares in club to fans who donate funds

Livingston have promised to reward fans who support the club through the coronavirus shutdown with shares and access to their hospitality suites.

The Almondvale outfit are among a raft of Scottish clubs working on plans to ensure they can survive the impending cash-flow crisis.

2.15pm – Hospital parking fees to be removed

The health secretary says hospital staff parking charges will be removed from Monday from Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

These are the only three parking sites in Scotland that were run by private firms.

1.50pm – Sturgeon says Scotland is ‘now on lockdown’

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister has reiterated instructions that people should only leave the home for basic necessities once a day, to exercise alone, for medical reasons or to support a vulnerable person or to travel to work if essential.

She added staying at home has become “the only way of saving lives”.

She told MSPs the Scottish Parliament will only meet one day a week rather than three “until the Easter recess at least”.

1.40pm – Coronavirus death toll reaches 16 in Scotland

The number of people who have died in Scotland from coronavirus has reached 16. 

The total number of positive cases rises to 584 – an increase of 85 overnight.

1.22pm – Businesses ‘will face repercussions’ for ignoring coronavirus advice

People will take a “poor view” of companies flouting coronavirus closure rules, economy secretary Fiona Hyslop claimed.

She said: “I think the public will take a very poor view of people who are deliberately compromising the public health now.

“I think the reputations of a number of companies who are forcing their workforce to come in will be irreversibly damaged.

“Therefore they themselves need to think about that.”

1.10pm – Scottish SPCA continues to rescue animals amid spread of coronavirus

The animal welfare charity has announced its inspectors and animal rescue officers will continue to attend emergency reports of animals in need throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

12.39pm – Japan asks to postpone 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Abe said he has agreed the delay with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach following talks earlier on Tuesday.

12.28pm – Thieves target care homes in string of ‘sickening’ break-ins

Police are hunting for a gang of thieves after three care homes were broken into during the coronavirus pandemic.

The string of “sickening” thefts took place across Inverness, Daviot and Kingussie over the weekend. 

11.58am – ‘More than 2500 Scots’ likely to have Covid-19 just now

There are currently more than 2500 people likely to be carrying the Covid-19 virus in Scotland, health secretary Jeane Freeman has told MSPs.

She said the number of likely cases was based on the figure for confirmed coronavirus patients being treated in intensive care – 25 – multiplied by 100.

10.43am – UK mobile networks send ‘stay at home’ text

For the first time in the UK, mobile networks are sending out an emergency government text message to your mobile.

10.34am – Public warned over bogus services during coronavirus pandemic

Police Scotland is warning the public to be wary of strangers offering false services during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Across the UK scammers are setting up fake websites to sell products and offer so-called cures or testing kits, as well as requesting donations to help victims.

Chief superintendent David Duncan said: “Don’t give people money or your bank details if they come to your door and offer to do shopping for you if you don’t know them. And never give your debit or credit card and PIN to anyone.

“If you are self-isolating, let friends and family know and if in doubt about anyone offering services at your door, step back and take a few minutes to contact them for advice.”

10.15am – Fife Council closes all recycling centres with immediate effect

This applies to all centres:
• Closed – Cowdenbeath
• Closed – Cupar
• Closed – Dalgety Bay
• Closed – Dunfermline
• Closed – Glenrothes
• Closed – Kirkcaldy
• Closed – Ladybank
• Closed – Lochgelly
• Closed – Methil
• Closed – Pittenweem
• Closed – St. Andrews

10.07am – Winged Foot golf club preparations for US Open halted as course closes

The venue for June’s US Open has been closed indefinitely, with a decision on the staging of the tournament expected next month.

9.40am – Police won’t hesitate to use new powers to enforce lockdown

Police will not hesitate to use new powers which are to be brought in to enforce the coronavirus lockdown, Police Scotland’s Chief Constable has said.

Under strict new measures, people will only be allowed to leave home for a limited number of reasons, while non-essential shops have been told to close and public gatherings of more than two people are banned.

Nicola Sturgeon said that police are to be given powers to fine those who breach the new measures, with the new powers expected to be introduced later in the week.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said that in the meantime, officers will rely on people complying with what they are asked to do, but warned people against disobeying the advice.

9.30am – Lidl to install cough and sneeze proof checkout screens in all stores

The safety measure will see thousands of screens rolled out in supermarkets across the country in order to protect Lidl colleagues and customers.

9am – UK children can visit separated parents during lockdown

UK cabinet minister Michael Gove clarified details after being asked to provide more information on the government guidelines announced on Monday night.

6.45am – Scottish Government demands Covid-19 help for self-employed

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, economy secretary Fiona Hyslop and finance Secretary Kate Forbes demanded the Jobs Retention Scheme be expanded to the self-employed.

6.30am – Lockdown is under way as Scots told to stay at home

People have been ordered to stay at home and will only be allowed to leave for shopping for basic necessities or for exercise.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as of Monday night Britons will only be able to go out for exercise once a day under the draconian measures.

Gatherings of two of more people are banned, except for members of your own household. People should go to the shops for essentials like food or medicine as infrequently as possible, the PM said, and should not go out to see friends or family members who do not live at their house.

More on:

Calls for Covid restrictions to be lifted on Christmas Day

A Bishop has called for restrictions to be lifted on Christmas Day.

Christmad: Bishop calls for restrictions to be lifted.

The Bishop of Paisley has called for an easing of restrictions on Christmas Day amid warnings of a “digital Christmas”.

Earlier this week, national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said large family gatherings were unlikely to be held on the holiday due to the prevalence of coronavirus in Scotland.

John Keenan, who also serves as the vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said strict restrictions on Christmas gatherings run “the risk of destroying all hope”.

While he conceded that Prof Leitch was trying to manage expectations, Mr Keenan wrote in the Sunday Times: “No one wants a digital Christmas.

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“Squashing false expectations is one thing, but no one wants to dampen people’s hopes.”

The bishop asked if there could be a 24-hour “circuit-breaker” put in place on December 25, comparing it with the ceasefire on the Western Front during the First World War.

He said: “Perhaps we should consider a Christmas ‘circuit-breaker’. A 24-hour lifting of restrictions on gatherings and celebrations, a break in the war on Covid, just like the pause in the First World War on the Western Front in 1914, when the British and German troops laid down their guns and met in no man’s land to celebrate Christmas.”

He added: “Couldn’t we allow for one day of normality in the midst of our relentless war against the virus?

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“Think of the hope and happiness that would give. A moment of joy in the midst of so much despair.

The bishop also said that “great care” would have to be taken to protect the vulnerable and the elderly, but raised the risk of “emptiness, loneliness and hopelessness at what should be the happiest time of year”.

He continued: “The effects of a depressed and isolated Christmas could be devastating for many, leaving an emotional and social legacy that no vaccine could cure.

“Flattening the curve of infection rates has been a laudable goal of government policy this year. Rather than flatten the curve of hope, let’s lift our spirits with the prospect of a merry Christmas and happy new year.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Decisions on whether to introduce additional protective measures will continue to be guided by the latest available scientific and clinical evidence, and informed by a balanced ‘four harms’ assessment.

“We understand that people will naturally be anxious about whether they will be able to visit relatives over the festive period.

“The new levels approach we announced this week, if approved by the Scottish Parliament, will enable us to adapt our response to coronavirus more effectively.

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“The more we do now to suppress transmission of the virus, the more likely we will have fewer restrictions in place at Christmas.

“However, given the rapidly-changing nature of the pandemic it is simply not possible to predict at this stage what restrictions may or may not be required over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.”


Coronavirus: One more dead as cases soar by 1303 overnight

More than 1000 people are currently receiving treatment in hospital for Covid-19.

Vicki Smith via Getty Images
Covid-19: The fight to stop the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

One more person has died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 56,752 – a jump of 1303 in the past 24 hours

The official death toll in Scotland now stands at 2700, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is more than 4300.

Of the new cases reported on Sunday, 437 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 341 are in Lanarkshire, 155 are in Lothian, and 132 are in Ayrshire and Arran.

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The remaining cases are spread across seven other health board areas.

According to management information reported by NHS boards across Scotland, 1016 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – an increase of 31 overnight. Out of those, 86 patients are in intensive care.

The figures come as a senior figure in the Catholic Church has called for a 24-hour “circuit-break” on Christmas Day, which would see restrictions lifted and people able to visit family.

John Keenan, the Bishop of Paisley and vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said strict restrictions on December 25 run “the risk of destroying all hope”.

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The Scottish Government has said it is not possible to predict what level the virus will be at by Christmas, adding the more compliance there is with the guidance now, the more likely the prevalence will reduce and restrictions will be lifted.

All fright on the night: Celebrating Halloween under Covid rules

Scots have been urged to find alternative ways to have spooky fun while avoiding the scare of spreading coronavirus this year.

Teresa Colucci via Getty Images
Halloween: Alternative ways to celebrate October 31.

With coronavirus restrictions already in place and stronger measures expected to follow soon, Halloween may look a little different this year.

The Scottish government told Scots not to expect their usual October 31 fun and to avoid guising to prevent risk of spreading Covid-19.

Children dressing up as spooky characters and going to door-to-door looking for treats has been an annual tradition for generations.

However, the deputy first minister says the move is necessary to ensure current restrictions on gatherings are adhered to.

Vladimir Vladimirov via Getty Images
The Scottish Government has strongly advised against guising this year.
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John Swinney said: “I know guising is a big part of Halloween and children will be sad to miss out, but as door-to-door guising brings an additional and avoidable risk of spreading the virus, our clear advice for families is to avoid it.”

In light of the current situation, STV News looks at alternative ways families can have spooky fun while avoiding the scare of spreading the virus.

Visit a patch to pick a pumpkin

If you take the FM’s advice and avoid guising altogether, there are plenty of other ways to mark Halloween without the family being stuck indoors.

Pumpkin picking is the latest autumn trend in Scotland as younger generations continue to adopt American traditions.

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Pumpkin patch at Valley View in Carluke.
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The days of carving lanterns from tumshies could now be a thing of the past as pumpkins become more and more popular.

There are now patches popping up across Scotland as the trend becomes the norm.

Here is a list of patches open to the public this year:

  • Udny Pumpkins, Ellon
  • South Ardbennie, Perthshire
  • Cairnie Farm, Cupar
  • Craigies Farm, South Queensferry
  • Arnprior, Stirling
  • Balgone Estate, East Lothian
  • Kilduff farm, East Lothian
  • MND’s Theme Park Outdoor Pumpkin Festival, Bellshill
  • Valley View At Gouldings, Carluke 

Get competitive in a carving contest

Once you’ve picked your perfect pumpkin, why not challenge the family to a carving competition?

Get artistic with stencils or bravely go freehand to create the most impressive spooky designs to rival your relatives.

Make things more interesting by taking the contest online and challenge your wider family on Zoom.

Show off your work with a pumpkin trail

What better way to show off your hard work than with a neighbourhood pumpkin trail?

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Families can place a pumpkin somewhere on or around their homes so children can wander through the street and count as many as possible.

The idea has become increasingly popular this year as parents are keen to make sure Halloween happens for their children.

Every pumpkin found, children can be given a sweet treat to add to their bag.

Just look at it as a 2020 spin on guising!

Give your face mask a Halloween twist

Young ones can give the term Halloween mask a whole new meaning by giving their face coverings a spooky makeover.

Bogdan Kurylo via Getty Images
Add a bit more fun to face masks with a spooky theme.

Using stickers, felt or even a parent’s sewing skills, they can create a terrifying design ready to scare the public on their next trip outdoors.

Show off your costume from your doorstep

At the height of lockdown, Scotland saw communities come together from the safety of their gardens and doorsteps.

Whether that was for the weekly Clap for Carers event or performing a dance from their front gate. 

Why can’t the same be done for Halloween? Children can show off their costume from the safety of their front garden or street for passers-by and neighbours to enjoy.

Host a virtual Halloween quiz

The idea of Zoom might give people the chills these days but why not get the whole family involved in a Halloween quiz?

Brush up on horror movie trivia and hellish history before going head-to-head to see who is the spook-tacular winner.

Put those lockdown baking skills to the test

Time in lockdown taught people a lot of skills, the most common one was learning how to bake.

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Pumpkin themed gingerbread biscuits.

So, how about putting those talents to the test by baking some spooky sweet treats?

From creepy cookies to pumpkin pancakes there’s an endless list of recipes online to try out.

Discover the light with a trip to GlasGLOW

itison via Itison
GlasGLOW at the Botanic Gardens. itison

If staying in isn’t people’s style then a trip to see GlasGLOW’s Halloween light show might be the perfect choice.

The popular event is set to return to Glasgow for a third year for the Halloween season.

It is held at the Botanic Gardens and will run from the October 29 – November 15.

Visitors have been told to expect an “immersive journey transporting them to other worlds where ancient powers have been unleashed”.

For ticket details click here.

Watch a Halloween classic at the drive-in

Nothing gets people in the Halloween spirit quite like a horror film so why not enjoy a good old-fashioned scare on the silver screen?

Rebecca Nelson via Getty Images

Drive-in movie events have been cropping up across the country over the past few years.

This October many pop-up venues are offering younger viewers some spooky family favourites including Hocus Pocus but also screening some horror classics like The Shining for adults.

Here’s a list of pop-up events scheduled in Scotland this month:


Six taken to hospital after fire in block of flats

Six people have been taken to hospital following a fire in Edinburgh.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
Fire: Two people rescued from blaze.

Six people have been taken to hospital following an early morning fire in Midlothian.

Two residents had to be rescued by firefighters when the blaze took hold of the top floor of a block of flats in Loanhead.

Crews attended the scene on McNeil Terrace at around 3.30am on Sunday.

Emergency services were also in attendance and six people were taken to hospital by ambulance.

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Four engines and a height vehicle were mobilised by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who remain at the scene.

A SFRS spokesman confirmed the incident.

He said: : “At 3.30am on Sunday we were called to reports of a dwelling fire in McNeill Terrace, Loanhead.

“The crews assisted a number of residents as they worked to extinguish the fire on the top floor of a three story block of flats.

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“Two residents were rescued from the property by fire fighters and six casualties were handed into the care of Scottish ambulance service before being taken to hospital.

“Crews remain at the scene.”


Royal Mail to seek 33,000 temporary seasonal workers

The postal service needs extra workers to keep up with increased parcel volumes over Christmas.

Royal Mail via website
Royal Mail: The postal service is seeking temporary seasonal workers.

Royal Mail has announced that around 33,000 temporary jobs will be available this year over the Christmas period – over 10,000 more than its usual seasonal average.

The postal service typically employs between 15,000 and 23,000 extra staff between October and January to help sort the additional Christmas volumes of parcels, cards and letters.

Royal Mail says that such a high number of workers is needed this year because of elevated parcel volumes due to an increase in online shopping caused by the coronavirus crisis.

More than 13,000 mail centre sorting posts are available in England, around 1400 posts in Scotland, 700 posts in Wales and 500 posts in Northern Ireland.

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The seasonal workers will support more than 115,000 permanent postmen and women who sort and deliver the mail all year round.

Additional workers will also be required for Royal Mail’s new Covid-19 testing kit collection team.

Royal Mail has been recruiting festive temporary workers since the Second World War.

Sally Ashford, Royal Mail chief HR officer, said: “During these unprecedented times we believe it is critical that Royal Mail continues to deliver.

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“We want to do our best to deliver Christmas for our customers and support the effort on the pandemic.

“This helps the whole country to celebrate and stay safe during these difficult times.”


Return of students after Christmas ‘could be staggered’

John Swinney said that the Scottish Government is 'learning lessons' from the return of students.

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University: Return 'could be staggered' after Christmas.

The return of students to university after spending Christmas at home could be staggered, according to the Education Secretary.

The beginning of the academic year saw thousands of students enter halls of residence before hundreds of them were forced to isolate due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

John Swinney said that the Scottish Government is “learning lessons” from the return of students which will impact measures in place after the Christmas break.

The Education Secretary also said it was a “priority” that students are able to go home for Christmas and he was working with other UK nations to ensure that does not result in a spike in Covid-19 cases.

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Addressing the return of students, he told the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme: “Some of the points that we’re looking at are around staggered returns of students so that they don’t all come back in one go, that we look at arrangements for how testing can be part of the architecture of how we handle that return.

“What we expect of students when they are returning home and when they’re coming back into universities and how they will spend their time, how their learning will be undertaken – these are all issues that are being explored.”

Swinney went on to say that a system of mass testing, bolstered by a staggered return of students ensuring the system does not become overwhelmed, was being discussed as an option.

He said: “These are some of the options that are being looked at and obviously… the practicalities of that are changed and eased if the return of students is staggered over a longer period.”

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Swinney added: “We’re working with institutions because they have to be partners with us in how the learning is undertaken over that period to make sure that we avoid any situation where there is too much strain either on the testing system or there is too much strain on the possibility of the circulation of the virus when students return or, for that matter, when they return to their homes in the first place.”

A new five-tiered system of restrictions was unveiled by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday, which would see a shifting package of measures put on different local authority areas depending on the prevalence of the virus.

However, schools are to remain open under the new framework, which will be debated by MSPs this week.

Swinney said the decision could be made to close a singular school for public health reasons, but that there were “many steps” which could be taken before schools will be shuttered as they were in March.


Chancellor Rishi Sunak urged to keep duty free shopping

Finance secretary Kate Forbes and economy secretary Fiona Hyslop have written to the Treasury.

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Chancellor: Rishi Sunak has been urged not to scrap duty free shopping.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged not to scrap duty free shopping in a letter from the heads of Scotland’s finances.

In an announcement made in September, the UK Government confirmed that VAT refunds on goods bought by non-EU citizens, along with tax-free airside purchases, would be scrapped after the end of the Brexit transition period.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes and economy secretary Fiona Hyslop have told the Treasury that retail businesses already suffering as a result of the pandemic would suffer if the rules were changed.

The letter, published on Sunday, adds to the gulf between the Treasury and the Scottish Government on finance policy.

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Earlier this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described new Covid-19 measures as “unacceptable”, after she claimed that no extra funding would be made available to Scottish ministers as a result of support extended to local authorities in England.

The letter said: “We urge you to reconsider this decision in light of the significant economic challenges that businesses affected by these changes are already experiencing due to Covid-19 measures.

“Since your minister’s announcement in September, we have received representations from many stakeholders across Scotland, each of whom has expressed surprise at the lack of engagement from the UK Government, and shared extensive concerns regarding the detrimental consequences for the sectors they represent.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds in sales could be lost in Scotland and thousands of jobs are at risk as a result of these changes, including jobs in rural areas.”

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The end of tax-free sales will only count for people travelling outside the EU – those travelling to the 27 European nations will be able to buy duty free goods in British ports.

The ministers went on to express “concern” that World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would be in effect from January 1, after the UK exit from the EU.

The letter added: “The Scottish Government has not received any indication to this effect and, clearly, the potential implications of this are far-reaching.

“We do not believe that this is the best route for Scotland, nor indeed the UK.”

The trading landscape for businesses in Scotland will be made harder after Brexit, the letter said, when WTO tariffs are put in place on non-EU exports and imports.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: “Supporting jobs is our number one goal – that’s why we’re investing billions to support business across the country through our Plan for Jobs.

“We’re also providing a significant boost to airports with our extension of duty free sales to passengers travelling to the EU for the first time in over 20 years.

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“Less than 10% of non-EU visitors to the UK use the VAT refund shopping scheme and extending this to EU visitors could cost up to £1.4bn a year.

“During the consultation concerns were also raised that the benefits of tax-free shopping in airports aren’t consistently passed on to consumers.

“Overseas visitors can still buy items VAT free in store and have them sent directly to their overseas addresses.”


‘Low rumbling’ felt after earthquake in Dumfries

The 2.0-magnitude earthquake was felt in parts of the Southern Uplands.

Earthquake: Residents felt 'low rumbling'.

Residents of a borders town felt a “low rumbling” during an earthquake on Saturday.

The 2.0-magnitude earthquake was felt in parts of the Southern Uplands.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said people reported the rumbling in Dumfries at around 1pm.

Initial data from the BGS suggested the quake’s depth was six miles and its epicentre was around five miles west of the town.


Greens set target for 40% of Scotland to be forest by 2040

MSP Andy Wightman will use his speech to the party’s virtual conference to make the case for 'fundamental' land reform.

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Scotland: A forest in Perthshire.

Scotland should be a “woodland nation” with two fifths of the country covered in woods within the next two decades, the Scottish Greens will demand.

Green MSP Andy Wightman will use his speech to the party’s virtual conference on Sunday to make the case for “fundamental” land reform.

The party wants more forests to be established across Scotland, with subsidies used to help achieve this along with the creation of new community-owned public forests.

Speaking ahead of his conference speech, Wightman said: “Scottish Greens will be making the case for fundamental change, with a target to reach 40% woodland cover by 2040.”

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He hit out at the Scottish Government on the issue, accusing rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing of being “little more than a lobbyist for powerful private interests”.

And he stated: “Today, up to a fifth of Scotland’s land mass is currently used as a playground for the ritual slaughter of grouse and other wildlife for the privileged.

“Let’s be clear. Grouse moors have no place in a Scotland that needs communities empowered and forests and peatlands restored.”

He said the Greens wanted a programme “involving communities, local authorities and local landowners to create a woodland nation”.


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