Necessity is said to be the mother of invention and lockdown has seen Scotland’s elite athletes get creative to stay on track for success.
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics as a result of the coronavirus pandemic saw athletes shifting their goals and drastically adjusting their training.
Meticulously prepared training schedules were thrown out overnight and athletes learned to improvise with what they had as they aimed to stay in top shape.
Olympic silver medallists Duncan Scott and Luke Patience and Paralympic silver medallist Maria Lyle shared their experiences with STV and showed how they continued to work through lockdown and target glory in Japan in 2021.
Scotland will move to phase three of its plan to ease out of lockdown, with Scots from up to three different households able to meet indoors and stay overnight from Friday.
Outdoor meetings of up to five households, comprising no more than 15 people, will also be permitted, the First Minister revealed.
Nicola Sturgeon announced the shift to MSPs on Thursday following the thrice weekly review of lockdown measures.
She confirmed two-metre social distancing, while remaining in place at large, will be relaxed in key sectors.
Public transport and retail will see the rule relaxed from Friday, the First Minister said.
However, mitigations will need to be in place in these sectors, with face coverings in shops also mandatory from Friday.
This rule, provided businesses have mitigations in place, will also be relaxed for bars, restaurants and cafes – which can reopen indoors and outdoors from next Wednesday, July 15.
Tourism businesses such as hotels will be able to open as expected in Scotland on July 15, the First Minister confirmed to MSPs.
Museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas, provided that tickets are bought in advance, can accommodate people again from that date too.
Hairdressers and barbers will be able to open on July 15, with guidance for the sector due to be published this week.
Shops within shopping centres will also be permitted to reopen, meaning the majority of retail premises will be operational in phase three.
From July 22, personal retail like outlets like beauticians and nail salons can resume work.
It comes as no new coronavirus deaths were reported in Scotland in the last 24 hours.
The First Minister told MSPs that while the virus is being suppressed in Scotland, it has not yet gone away.
She said: “Lockdown has suppressed it, but as lockdown eases there is a very real risk that it will start to spread again.
“And that is not conjecture – it is already happening in many parts of the world.
“And with every restriction we lift, the risk increases – especially as we start to permit more indoor activity.
“So all of us must do everything we can to mitigate it.”
From Friday, up to 15 people from five different households will be allowed to meet outdoors, the First Minister said, as long as two-metre distancing is adhered to.
A maximum of eight people from three different households will also now be able to meet indoors.
However, the FM described the change as “one of the highest risk changes we have made so far”.
She continued: “We know that the risk of transmitting the virus indoors is significantly higher than it is outdoors.
“So it is essential that we all take great care and strictly follow all of the public health advice.”
Couples who do not live together will now be able to meet without physically distancing, regardless of their living arrangements.
Indoor hospitality businesses have also been given the go-ahead to open on July 15, but Sturgeon added: “Just as with indoor household meetings, opening up indoor hospitality poses significantly increased risks of transmission.
“So it is essential that the guidance on health and safety is followed rigorously, by businesses, staff and customers.
“That includes guidance on physical distancing and taking customer contact details.”
The First Minister said the announcement for beauty and nail salons had not been expected so soon, and revealed other measures have been brought forward.
Places of worship will be able to open again for communal prayer and services, earlier than planned, but with restrictions placed on singing and chanting, two-metre distancing and leaving contact details required.
Restrictions on attendance numbers at funerals, weddings and civil partnerships will also be eased, although these numbers will be “even more limited” than those allowed to return to places of worship.
Motorcycle instruction along with theory and hazard tests will be allowed to resume – but not instruction for those learning to drive a car.
No date was given either for the reopening of indoor gyms, bingo halls, live events and non-essential offices.
Sturgeon said there should be “cautious hope” in Scotland over the suppression of the virus but she added it is still a time of “real danger”.
She told the Scottish parliament “Next week represents the most substantial easing of lockdown so far.
“And everything we learn about this, still new virus – about its infectiousness, its ability to kill, and its potential to do long-term damage to health – should warn us that we mess with it at our peril.
“And so perhaps more than ever, now is a time for great caution.”
Analysis: Caution until country is Covid-free
by Bernard Ponsonby
So, a further lifting of lockdown and another exercise in carefully pitched language from the First Minister.
Today was a “time for cautious hope and optimism” as the raft of new freedoms suggested something approaching normal was close.
But in keeping with her softly, softly approach, Nicola Sturgeon warned that the coming weeks were “also a time of real danger”, adding that as far as the virus is concerned “we mess with it at our peril”.
Life should not feel entirely normal she told MSPs. As if to emphasise the point some activities planned for phase three like the return of offices and call centres are being put on hold.
And in a clear statement about the pace of lifting lockdown, she said that phase three may well last beyond a three-week period, flagging up that it should not be assumed that at the next statutory review that Scotland will move to phase three.
This is all in keeping with her approach from day one: cautious, measured and emphasising risk as well as lauding progress.
It won’t change either until the country is Covid-free.
EU students in Scotland will no longer be entitled to free university tuition from 2021.
Higher education minister Richard Lochhead said the decision had been made by the Scottish Government with a “heavy heart” and is “a consequence of Brexit”.
EU laws required students from the bloc to be treated the same as Scottish students, who continue to have their tuition paid for.
But the policy, estimated to cost around £100m a year, will end in the academic year 2021-22 to avoid “the risk of any legal challenge” as a result of EU laws no longer applying in Scotland.
Students from European Union countries who have already begun their university courses in Scotland, or who begin them this coming academic year, will have their tuition covered for the duration of their degrees.
Free tuition for EU students had continued in Scotland ever since the 2016 Brexit vote.
However, Lochhead previously announced 2020-21 would be a “transition year” for the policy, in line with the UK being in its transition period from leaving the EU.
Official figures show more than 21,000 EU students studied at Scottish universities in 2018-19, with around three quarters of them full-time students whose tuition was funded that year.
Addressing MSPs on Thursday, the higher education minister described scrapping the policy as a “difficult” decision.
He insisted the government will work with the sector to build an “ambitious scholarship programme” to ensure European students are still encouraged to come here.
Lochhead said: “As a result of EU law, since this government abolished tuition fees, we have treated EU students in the same way we treat students from Scotland.
“They do not pay tuition fees. It is only as a result of EU law applying in Scotland that this was possible – indeed it was mandatory.
“Our EU law obligations cease at the end of the transition period in a few months, and continuing with this arrangement for 2021-22 would significantly increase the risk of any legal challenge.
“It is therefore with a heavy heart that we have taken the difficult decision to end free education for new EU students from the academic year 2021-2022 onwards as a consequence of Brexit.”
He added: “EU students who have already started their studies, or who start this autumn, will not be affected and will still be tuition free for the entirety of their course.
“That is the stark reality of Brexit and a painful reminder that our country’s decisions are affected by UK policies that we do not support and did not vote for.
“Our internationalism remains a key strength of higher education in Scotland.
“So, we will discuss with the sector an ambitious scholarship programme to ensure that the ancient European nation of Scotland continues to attract significant numbers of European students to study here.”
Three prisoners have admitted killing a dad-of-two who was facing trial for attempting to abduct a six-year-old boy.
Craig Derrick, 31, Brian Laing, 27, and David Till, 33, attacked 47-year-old Darren Brownlie in a cell at HMP Low Moss Prison in Bishopbriggs on January 6.
The High Court in Glasgow heard Brownlie, who was on remand awaiting trial for attempting to snatch the boy from a car in Spey Road, Bearsden, on June 25, last year, was kicked and punched on the head and body.
Brownlie was summoned to Derrick’s cell and the fatal attack involving all three accused took just 66 seconds.
Prosecutor Paul Kearney said: “Mr Brownlie had a number of injuries to his face and was bleeding heavily from his nose. He was examined by a nurse who suspected he had broken ribs.”
An ambulance was requested at 5.28pm, but it was not until 10.13pm that paramedics began treating Mr Brownlie, who was by then lying unresponsive on the floor of the cell.
During the almost five hours it took to get medical help Mr Brownlie was put in an observation cell and checked on by staff.
Mr Kearney said: “On a number of occasions Mr Brownlie pressed the emergency buzzer in the cell and witness Graham Bride heard him being told by a member of staff ‘stop pressing the f***ing buzzer. I’ve told you help is on the way.'”
Derrick, Laing and Till admitted the culpable homicide of Mr Brownlie on Thursday. They were originally charged with murder, but their plea to a reduced charged was accepted by the Crown.
Mr Brownlie died from internal bleeding caused by a ruptured spleen and also had broken ribs.
Mr Kearney added: “Mr William Tullet, an accident and emergency consultant at Glasgow Royal Infirmary said that in his opinion had he received timeous pre-hospital treatment for his blood loss and transferred to hospital for surgery he would, in all probability, have survived.”
The court heard that a non-emergency call was made to the ambulance service at 5.28pm. A check made between 7.15pm and 7.30pm revealed Mr Brownlie had vomited and was complaining of being cold.
Another call was made at 7.36pm and a further one at 7.38pm saying it was an emergency. Despite this it was not until 9.45pm that an ambulance was assigned to go to the prison.
An ambulance finally arrived at the prison gates at 9.59pm and there was a delay in it being admitted. Mr Brownlie died at 10.34pm.
The court heard Mr Brownlie was accused of ripping other prisoners off by swapping less potent prescription drugs for legal highs.
Judge Lord Matthews deferred sentence on all three accused until next month and ordered background and risk assessment reports.
Defence counsel for the accused will give their pleas in mitigation then.
An electricity pole fell from a helicopter transporting it and crashed to the ground near a road in the Highlands, accident investigators have found.
The helicopter was flying at around 200ft in Glencoe with the 700kg wooden pole in a sling underneath the aircraft when it was mistakenly released.
The pole crashed into the hillside below and split into two pieces around 200 metres from a minor public road, according to report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
The 66-year-old pilot was flying the Eurocopter solo as part of electricity line refurbishment when the incident happened at around 2.30pm on March 3.
The report said: “The pole broke into two pieces when it struck a steep hill approximately 200 metres from a minor public road but clear of any built-up areas and third parties.
“There was no damage to the helicopter or lifting equipment.
“The operator considered the most probable cause for the inadvertent release of the load was that the sling, which was carrying the load, was not positioned correctly in the helicopter’s hook which was of the spring-loaded keeper design.
“As a result of this incident, the operator is continuing to phase out the design of this hook for most of its operations and has changed its procedures so that only the operator’s employees are permitted to load the hook when spring-loaded keeper hooks are used.”
A private island in the middle of Loch Lomond has gone on sale for £500,000.
The uninhabited island, Inchconnachan, is only accessible by boat and no-one has lived there for 20 years.
The ruins of a timber bungalow built in Colonial style in the 1920s can still be seen.
It was once the holiday home of thrill-seeking aristocrat Fiona Gore, Countess of Arran who was at one-time the fastest woman on the water, after setting record speeds of 102mph in a powerboat in 1980.
Planning consent and detailed architectural drawings have been obtained to replace the existing bungalow with a new four-bedroom lodge and one-bedroom warden’s house, along with a boathouse and pier.
The island is both an Area of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation as well as being part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and is surrounded by views of mountain ranges.
Wildlife lovers could watch nesting ospreys, otters and deer on the 103-acre island, which can only be accessed by a boat from Luss, Argyll and Bute.
It is on the market for offers over £500,000 – the same price as an ultra-modern one-bedroom flat near Canary Wharf in London.
Cameron Ewer for Savills said: “This is an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a beautiful and completely private, yet accessible, retreat and create a wonderful new residence there.
“For those seeking peace and seclusion, yet wanting all that this part of Scotland has to offer in the way of nature and water-based sport and activities, this is surely the ultimate prize.”
Tom Stewart-Moore for Knight Frank said: “To be able to build your own house on your own private island but yet in a very accessible and beautiful part of the country will be a dream for many and is likely to have global appeal.”
High street pharmacy chain Boots has said it expects to cut more than 4000 jobs as part of action to mitigate the “significant impact” of Covid-19.
The move will affect around 7% of the company’s workforce and will particularly affect staff in its Nottingham support office.
It will also affect some deputy and assistant manager, beauty adviser and customer adviser roles across its stores.
The restructuring will also result in the closure of 48 Boots Opticians stores.
It comes after retail sales tumbled by 48% over the past three months in the face of the pandemic, despite Boots keeping swathes of its stores open to customers.
Meanwhile, its opticians business saw sales dive by 72% compared to the same quarter last year as people stayed at home.
Boots said that the cuts represent an “acceleration” of its transformation plans to improve profitably across the business.
Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “The proposals announced today are decisive actions to accelerate our transformation plan, allow Boots to continue its vital role as part of the UK health system, and ensure profitable long-term growth.
“I am so very grateful to all our colleagues for their dedication during the last few challenging months.
“They have stepped forward to support their communities, our customers and the NHS during this time, and I am extremely proud to be serving alongside them.”
“In doing this, we are building a stronger and more modern Boots for our customers, patients and colleagues.
“We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time.”
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