Enforcement of Covid vaccine passport scheme comes into effect

Proof of full vaccination will be required to enter nightclubs and large events from Monday.

TomasSimkus via IStock

Enforcement of Scotland’s controversial Covid vaccine passport scheme comes into effect from Monday.

Proof of full vaccination is required to enter nightclubs and large events as part of the Scottish Government’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus and increase vaccine take-up.

The measures technically came into effect from October 1, but an 18-day grace period was announced following backlash from affected industries and significant problems with the new app.

The policy will now be enforceable for nightclubs, strip clubs and unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with over 4000 and any event with more than 10,000 people.

ADVERT

Scots will have to show proof they have had both vaccine doses, with a paper copy of the certificate or a QR code on a new app, although the latter has been plagued with problems since its launch.

Councils are responsible for ensuring venues and businesses are checking vaccine status.

Ruth Jones, manager of ATIK nightclub in Aberdeen said: “There has been so much confusion, we have just been inundated with e-mails and messages from customers that don’t understand, you know, do they need to have double vaccines, can they come in with negative lateral flow tests, which obviously they cannot.

“The information to them has not been clear, not to us either, you know, it’s been pretty much ‘this is what you’ve got to do’ and then not really a lot of guidance then surrounding how you actually action that.”

ADVERT

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The grace period allowed venues and businesses affected more than two weeks to test the scheme in practice and make suitable arrangements.

“It has also provided the Government with helpful feedback from the sectors affected and we continue to liaise with them going forward.

“This is a very limited scheme and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.

“This virus has not gone away and vaccine certification will have a role to play in keeping transmission under control as part of a wider package of measures.

“It adds a further layer of protection in certain higher-risk settings.

“I also want to ensure that as many people get vaccinated as possible and particularly to increase uptake in the younger age cohort, so anything to incentivise that is helpful.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “The shambles that followed the release of the vaccine passport app was a predictable disaster.

ADVERT

“Weeks have passed and we have seen no change of plans despite concerns from the public, public health experts and businesses.

“This whole debacle has happened because the SNP are arrogant enough to believe they are right and Scotland is wrong.

“The First Minister is making this up as she goes along.

“If we want to control the virus we must look at proper resourcing of our test and protect system which has collapsed in recent weeks.

“If we want to drive up vaccination we should be going door-to-door to convince those we know are hesitant and making it easier to just walk in for an appointment.

“Instead the Government is doubling down on this mess.”


Police appeal after teenager Amber Gibson found murdered in woodland

Family of 16-year-old Amber Gibson 'devastated' after body found in wooded area of Hamilton on Sunday.

Police Scotland

Police investigating the murder of a 16-year-old girl are appealing for the public’s help to provide answers to her “devastated” family.

The death of Amber Gibson, also known as Amber Niven, is being treated as murder after her body was discovered in a wooded area of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, on Sunday morning.

She had last been seen on the town’s Cadzow Street just before 10pm after leaving her home in the Hillhouse area around 9.15pm that night.

Her body was discovered near to Cadzow Glen at 10.10am on Sunday.

ADVERT

Detective superintendent Raymond Brown, from Police Scotland major investigations Team, appealed for the public’s help at a news conference on Wednesday.

He said: “At this time, our primary line of enquiry is to understand Amber’s movements on Friday evening.

“What we are really needing from the community is to understand her movements on Friday night and indeed if we can fill the information from the time she left her home address up until the period she was found.

“We know Hamilton would have been busy at that time of night – anybody who was in the area, whether it be they were pedestrian, shopping, out for the evening or passing by in their car – if they saw Amber to come forward and provide us with information about any sightings.”

ADVERT

Brown also said police launched a murder inquiry following a post-mortem, having previously treated the death as unexplained.

He added: “Amber was a young 16-year-old girl at the start of her life

“Obviously, like every young kid at that age, she was out doing what a young woman would do – what I would say is a 16-year-old death is absolutely tragic and certainly one that is a homicide, so our focus is to understand Amber’s last movements so that we can provide answers to her loved ones.

“Amber’s family are absolutely devastated, as would be expected.”

STV News
Amber’s body was discovered near Cadzow Glen in Hamilton on Sunday morning.

Anyone with information can call police on 101, quoting incident 1281 of November 28. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

More on:

Some homes ‘without power for a week’ after Storm Arwen

Engineers have been working to restore power.

SSEN via PA Media

Some homes left without power following the “catastrophic damage” caused by Storm Arwen last week may not be reconnected until Friday, an electricity company has said.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has reconnected more than 120,000 customers since Friday’s storm, but 6500 remained without power on Wednesday.

Graeme Keddie, of SSEN, said the main villages have been reconnected but that for “localised faults” power is not expected to be restored until Friday.

He apologised to any customers affected and said the company is doing all it can to restore power “as quickly as possible”.

ADVERT

Mr Keddie said the storm had caused “devastation on parts of the network”, particularly in Aberdeenshire, where 4000 customers remain without power.

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “It’s a dynamic situation, we’ve got a better picture than we had yesterday and the day before.

“We’ve got all of the main villages connected; it’s now looking at the rural areas. We’re confident that we have a handle on the situation in terms of what we can restore in the next couple of days.

“We’re looking to make really good progress today and tomorrow and we expect it will be the last final few homes on Friday, and we want to be clear those are our expectations.”

ADVERT

He added: “For those localised faults, those faults that are serving a home or a group of homes, we are looking into Friday for restoration.”

SSEN said it will reimburse all reasonable accommodation costs for any customer unable to make alternative arrangements.

Customers unable to access the company’s welfare facilities for free hot food and drinks can also claim the cost of takeaways or meals from local establishments, up to £15 per person.

SSEN managing director Chris Burchell said: “The impact of Storm Arwen has caused catastrophic damage to the electricity network across the north-east of Scotland and is the most significant event we have ever had to deal with in the area in a generation.

“I would like to thank our customers who have shown great resilience, patience and understanding since the impact of Storm Arwen, and we fully recognise that urgency of the situation for those who continue to remain off supply.

“I would like to personally apologise to all customers who have been impacted and would like to reassure everyone still off supply that our teams are working extremely hard to reconnect them as soon as possible.”


Support for Scottish independence rises to 55% – STV poll

2014 referendum results could be reversed if another was held now, according to the Ipsos MORI poll.

Jeff J Mitchell / Staff via Getty Images

Support for Scottish independence has risen to its highest level for a year, according to a new poll for STV News.

Backing for ‘Yes’ is now at 55% – up five points compared to the last Ipsos MORI poll just before the Holyrood election in May.

Excluding undecideds, it suggests the result of the 2014 referendum could be reversed if another was held now, and comes just days after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for indyref2 by the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, approval ratings for Prime Minister Boris Johnson have hit a record low in Scotland, where four in five said they were ‘dissatisfied’ with his performance.

ADVERT

Sturgeon remains the highest-rated party leader, but while Scots are overwhelmingly positive about the Scottish Government’s handling of the Covid vaccine rollout, they are less pleased with its performance in health and education.

What did the poll tell us?

Independence

STV News

Party leaders

STV News

Scottish Government performance

  • Vaccine rollout: 84% believe the Scottish Government has done a good job
  • Health: 48% say the government has done a bad job of improving the NHS; 40% think it has done a good job
  • Education: Bad job – 46%; Good job – 35%
  • Handling Brexit implications: Bad job – 43%; Good job – 37%

‘Far from over’

ADVERT

Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: “This latest poll from Ipsos MORI and STV News indicates that the argument for Scottish independence is far from over, with a slight improvement for the Yes side. 

“Given the margins of error around polling estimates, however, neither the Yes or No camps should be confident of victory at this point. 

“The Yes camp may be benefiting from what has been a very bad week for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives at Westminster, with fieldwork taking place after heated debate about MPs’ second jobs. 

“This is certainly reflected in Johnson’s own ratings, which have fallen to a new low.”

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1107 adults aged 16 and over across Scotland by phone between November 22-29.


Scottish rugby international Siobhan Cattigan dies aged 26

Scottish Rugby 'deeply saddened' and says thoughts with her family.

Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via SNS Group
The Stirling County back row won 19 caps for Scotland between 2018 and 2021.

Scotland rugby international Siobhan Cattigan has died at the age of 26.

The Stirling County back row – whose cause of death has not been revealed – won 19 caps for Scotland between 2018 and 2021.

Scottish Rugby said it was “deeply saddened” by the news, and that thoughts were with her family and friends.

They wrote: “The thoughts of all our people and players go out to Siobhan’s family and many teammates at Stirling County and Scotland at this incredibly difficult time.

ADVERT

“Specialist Scottish Rugby employees are now providing ongoing support to those most closely affected.”

Cattigan started all three matches of the 2021 Women’s Six Nations tournament, playing at number eight against England, Italy and Wales.

She was also involved with Scotland’s Rugby World Cup 2021 European qualifiers squad, where she came off the bench in Scotland’s win over Spain.

Cattigan also studied Criminology and Sociology at the University of Stirling before going on to receive a Master’s degree in sports psychology.

ADVERT

In a statement by Stirling County, Cattigan was praised as an inspiration and described as being central to the development of women’s rugby within the club.

“Shibby has been a big part of County for many years and will be hugely missed by everyone at the club,” they wrote.

“She was central to the development of women’s rugby within the club and an inspiration to the girls in the youth section.

Shibby was a teammate and friend and we deeply mourn her loss. Our love, thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with Shibby’s family at this devastating time. 

“We very much hope their privacy will be respected by everyone as they deal with their tragic loss.”


Scotland records 97 Covid-linked deaths in one week

A total of 12,127 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Covid: Just under 100 deaths in Scotland last week.

A total of 97 coronavirus-linked deaths were recorded in Scotland in the week to November 28, the latest statistics show.

This is an increase of one on the previous week and takes the total number of people in Scotland who have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus to 12,127, according to National Records of Scotland (NRS) data.

Of the latest deaths, 18 were people aged under 65, 34 were aged 65-74 and 45 were 75 or older.

Fife was the council area with the highest number of deaths at 11, followed by Glasgow with ten and South Lanarkshire with eight.

ADVERT

The majority of the deaths – 82 – occurred in hospital, with nine at home or in a non-institutional setting and six in care homes.

The statistics are published weekly and cover all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government because the NRS figures include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.

Pete Whitehouse, NRS statistical services director, said: “The number of deaths from all causes registered in Scotland in this week was 1270, which is 140, or 12%, more than the five-year average.”

ADVERT

Among the higher than average deaths in the week to November 28 were those from cancer and circulatory causes, which each accounted for 24 more than five-year-average.

Figures released on Wednesday show 19 new deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.

The Scottish Government’s daily Covid update also showed that 2796 people had tested positive for the virus.

There are currently 702 people in hospital who have recently tested positive for coronavirus and 54 of those are in intensive care.

More on:

Pupils not wearing masks ‘putting school bus services at risk’

Parents and carers have been urged to speak with young people over reports of non compliance on bus journeys.

SolStock via IStock
School buses: Pupils 'refuse to wear face masks on transport'.

School bus services are being put at risk by pupils refusing to wear face masks and use hand sanitiser, East Lothian Council’s head of education has warned.

Nicola McDowell has urged parents and carers to speak to young people amid reports of increased incidents of non-compliance during bus journeys.

She has warned the council only has a “finite number of drivers”, with home-to-school transport facing disruption if they are forced to self isolate or catch Covid.

Ms McDowell, who took on the role in June, also defended the decision not to allow families to attend nativity plays and Christmas concerts this year.

ADVERT

The decision, which follows Scottish Government guidance against allowing additional people into schools, has sparked some anger from parents.

However, Ms McDowell insists the council’s strict approach will keep schools open as well as avoiding families risking having to self isolate over Christmas itself.

She said: “I make no apologies for saying we are taking a very strict approach, we have to do that.

“We would love to be celebrating not holding back the celebrations, for the staff as well as families, this is something everyone looks forward to so we are doing what we can in the classrooms.

ADVERT

”Schools are allowed to have Christmas parties within their own classrooms so we will be having that type of event and ensuring there is lots of festivities for our pupils.”

Parents and carers across East Lothian are being sent letters this week by Ms McDowell explaining the nativity decision.

In a separate letter also due to go out, she appeals for help keeping school bus services on the road.

She said: “The risk of not having transport is that the staff are not well. The incidents of non-compliance has increased with some pupils taking off their face masks and not using the hand sanitiser on the buses.

“It increases the risk of transmitting Covid and we only have a finite number of drivers.”


Proposed heating benefit would give 400,000 households £50

The Scottish Government is aiming to replace the UK-wide Cold Weather Payment.

Steve Parsons via PA Media
Heating: Proposed new benefit payment would give 400,000 households in Scotland £50.

A proposed new benefit payment would give 400,000 households in Scotland £50 each every winter to help with heating bills.

The Scottish Government is aiming to replace the current UK-wide Cold Weather Payment in the winter of 2022.

It has opened a consultation on Low Income Winter Heating Assistance, which is expected to cost £20m annually.

The current benefit pays £25 for each seven-day period where the temperature is forecast to be below freezing.

ADVERT

Under the new scheme, households receiving income-related benefits would automatically receive £50 every winter.

Social security minister Ben Macpherson said: “Although Cold Weather Payments have been a valuable support for some during periods of very cold weather, there have been some years when hardly any payments have been made at all by the UK Government.

“If winters, as predicted, are due to become generally wetter and warmer then this may also reduce the numbers of Cold Weather Payments in the future. We want people to have certainty about receiving a payment.

“Our proposed new benefit will be the equivalent to two payments of Cold Weather Payment and should ensure that most people will be better off.

ADVERT

“Significantly, it will also enable us to provide assistance to more households that are at risk of fuel poverty.”

Last week, experts told MSPs around 100,000 more households are expected to go into fuel poverty as a result of rising energy bills.

More than 600,000 households are currently estimated to be in fuel poverty.


New poll suggests there are two key assets for Yes campaign

Support for Scottish independence rises to 55% in latest STV News/Ipsos MORI poll.

Duncan McGlynn via Getty Images

The constitutional question has long dominated and largely defined Scottish politics.

In 2014, voters were asked the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’. The answer was clear from more than 3.6 million votes – Yes 45%, No 55%.

The latest STV News/Ipsos MORI poll is a mirror image of that, but it is just a snapshot of 1107 voters taken over the last week.

It comes after the SNP conference when Nicola Sturgeon promised to start the campaign for another referendum in earnest next year.

ADVERT

Four polls in the run-up to that conference offered a different view, putting No ahead of Yes by 52 to 48. On the basis of that, some will say this latest Ipsos MORI poll is an outlier, but others might hope it is the start of a new trend.

What is absolutely clear is that the constitutional question is still at the forefront of Scottish politics – it certainly hasn’t gone away.

The poll comes on the back of the latest Westminster sleaze scandal and the Prime Minister’s infamous Peppa Pig speech.

That probably goes some way to explaining an even further drop in satisfaction ratings with Boris Johnson’s performance. Satisfaction with all the party leaders has slipped a bit, but nothing compared to his.

ADVERT

This poll makes it look like the Yes campaign has two key assets – Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson.


Douglas Ross to be investigated by Westminster’s standards watchdog

Last month, Ross said he had made a 'huge mistake', having failed to declare outside earnings.

UK Parliament via Parliament TV
The commissioner does not confirm what claims she is investigating once a probe has been declared.

An investigation has been launched by Westminster’s standards watchdog into Douglas Ross.

It comes after it emerged he failed to declare thousands of pounds in outside earnings while serving as an MP.

Last month, Ross said he was “deeply sorry” and admitted he had made a “huge mistake”, having also referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone.

The Herald newspaper reported that Ross had failed to declare £28,218.57 in outside earnings from his second job as an MSP and third job as a football referee.

ADVERT

After he realised his mistake, Ross explained, he contacted the Office of the Register of Interests and made them aware of the situation.

He added that all payments had now been declared, including those from his MSP salary which are donated to charities.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is also set to be investigated by the Commissioner.

Labour had previously demanded an investigation into a £6m loan they said the MP did not declare properly.

ADVERT

The commissioner does not confirm what claims she is investigating once a probe has been declared.

According to the commissioner’s website, Rees-Mogg and Ross are both being investigated over “registration of an interest under category one of the Guide to the Rules (Employment and Earnings)”, and it refers to paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct.

The relevant paragraph in the code states: “Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the register of members’ financial interests.

“They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its committees, and in any communications with ministers, members, public officials or public office holders.”


You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?