Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 545

Issue # 545                                              Week ending Saturday 28th March 2020

This Pandemic is Instilling A Sort of Wartime Spirit in So Many of us
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Yon Boris Johnson is getting more like Winston Churchill each time he appears on the telly. He has found a new sense of gravitas, and a comb. That address to the nation on Monday night had me half-hiding behind the sofa because I was just wondering what was going to come next. It was not quite a “Never in the field of human conflict ...” speech but it was a bit scary when he became emphatic about the way ahead being hard and then adding that many lives will sadly be lost.

That jarring language is a shock but just imagine what it was like during the wars that our parents and grandparents had to endure. At least our lights are on. Now the dangers lurking outside are mainly the nincompoops who don’t take the virus threat seriously and unfortunately they include some rather odd churchgoers who have thought it fine to disregard the scientific and government advice. They know best. Yeah?

I will not call them religious people because I don’t believe anyone who would so deliberately put themselves and, more importantly, others at risk is actually religious in any way at all. Deluded and dangerous yes, but religious? Nope. That’s my belief.

A while back, a certain newspaper had a list of descriptive words that are not often used nowadays and I remember people who were reckless were described as ... pri ... pro ... pranny. That’s it. The word suits anyone who is not taking the scientific advice about the current threat seriously. Yeah, there are a lot of prannies about. Handy word that, use it wisely.

There have been a few other times when that famous wartime spirit has come into play since 1945. It carries us through with our stiff upper lips and anticipation of Vera Lynn singing of some sunny day. For instance, some years ago a family in Plasterfield here got a note through the door saying the electricity was to be off for a few hours the following day. They got the gas ring out and the tins of beans. Sure enough the power went off mid-morning. In the afternoon, they all huddled together in the kitchen. Soon they were singing wartime hits like It’s a Long Way To Tipperaray.

By 5pm the power was still off - after seven hours. Oh heck. By 8pm, they were getting really concerned. Joey Mackay started singing Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant Major. The beans had run out and everyone was shivering. That was when one family member called Sandie noticed that the light was on in the house across the road. When she went out to investigate, she saw the whole street was lit up with electric lights in all the living rooms in Plasterfield. She shouted: WTF? I think at that time it meant Where's The Fusebox?

It turned out that they had a coin-operated prepayment meter, which many people still find handy to use today. It had run out of credit just before Hydro-Electric had turned the power off. The mains power was actually only off for something like two or three hours but Mrs X and her family had shivered for 10 hours in blissful ignorance. Duh. Mrs X and her sisters, Joey and Annie Mary, do not like it when I remind them of that one.

So what should we all do now to keep our spirits up during a pandemic? You can only watch so much Piers Morgan or Homes Under The Hammer. I’ll tell you what we have done. We have renamed every room in our house. The hall is, er, Whitehall, because it is close to the seat of government, the loo. The living room is Liverpool. The main bedroom with the floral wallpaper is Florida. See what we’ve done there?

Now we can plan and take holidays but without leaving the house. So the coronovirus lockdown has inspired us to be right jet-setters. By mid-morning, I could be in Liverpool for a bite of lunch and later I may pop through Whitehall on the way to dinner in the Members’ Dining Room in the House of Commons. That’s our kitchen, by the way, because we are as common as you can get.

See? You could do the same with a wee bit of imagination. Staying in is the new going out. Later this week, we are planning a night on the tiles. Aperitifs will be taken in the utility room, where the tiles are a bit cracked and broken. It’s now known as Alaska because it is very chilly in there. The partying will continue until we end the evening inspecting the Armitage Shanks porcelain collection in Bognor Regis.

However, do not forget that the warnings from the last couple of weeks apply more than ever. Much as you would like to visit friends and family, do not do it. Phone instead. And remember that those who are not well and older people are especially at risk. How can I get you to remember that?  I know. Don’t be a pranny, keep away from your granny.

Coronavirus in Scotland As 14 People Die and Boris Johnson Orders UK-wide Lockdown
A total of 499 people in Scotland have tested positive for coroanvirus in Scotland - with 14 deaths.  The new figure is an increase of 83 overnight.  The increase comes as Scotland's chief medical officer revealed the rate at which the coronavirus infection is being spread is higher than had been expected.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced lockdowns to prevent the spread of the deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of 335 in the UK. In a statement to the nation, Johnson said: "We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together. And therefore I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.  We are accelerating our search for treatments. We are pioneering work on a vaccine. And we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer." The First Minister announced the action in Scotland to protect the resilience of the emergency services until the impact of the virus has lessened substantially.  The Scottish Government had previously warned that up to 80% of the population could become infected, with potentially 4% of this group requiring hospital treatment.  Parking fees for medics will be scrapped at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary to help NHS staff during the Coronavirus pandemic.  A dedicated testing centre has been set up at the hospital, to test for the potentially deadly virus.  Under new rules introduced by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in the wake of the outbreak, medics will be allowed to use any parking space except those reserved for emergency vehicles or disabled parking.

Alex Salmond Acquitted of All Charges in Sexual Assault Trial
Alex Salmond has been acquitted of all charges of sexual assault, a decision that prompted his allies to suggest he had been the victim of a witch-hunt within the Scottish National party. A jury of eight women and five men at the high court in Edinburgh on Monday found Salmond not guilty of 12 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault after about six hours of deliberations.  They came to the uniquely Scottish verdict of not proven on one charge of sexual assault with intent to rape, after hearing nearly nine days of evidence. The outcome – greeted by Salmond with praise for the judicial system– capped the most significant criminal trial in Scottish political history.

Ski Centres: 'Sorry Folks. That's It.
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Scotland's mountain snowsports centres held their last day of the 2019-20 season at the weekend.  The Lecht, Glenshee, Nevis Range, Cairngorm and Glencoe said they had shut down to help tackle coronavirus. Snow conditions at the resorts had looked favourable for several weeks longer but on Sunday, Glencoe Mountain posted the message: "Sorry folks. That's it." All five sites had previously put precautions in place.  The operators of Nevis Range said the virus had presented the centre with its "biggest challenge" in its 30-year history.

Scottish NHS to Quadruple Intensive Care Beds

The number of intensive care beds in Scotland is to be quadrupled as part of efforts to fight coronavirus.  Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told MSPs that "good progress" was being made increasing the capacity of wards.  And she said a network of Covid-19 assessment centres was to be set up across Scotland, with 50 planned in the first instance.  It came as Nicola Sturgeon said two more people with the virus had died in Scotland, bringing the total to 16.  The first minister also said 584 people had now tested positive for coronavirus - up from 499 on Monday - although she warned that this figure "will be an underestimate". Stringent new measures to curb the spread of the virus and ease pressure on health services were announced on Monday, with Ms Sturgeon saying they amount to a "lockdown".  She reiterated this in a statement to MSPs on Tuesday, emphasising that people "must stay at home" in order to save lives.  The first minister also provided further information about which businesses should still be open and who should be going out to work - urging onstruction sites to close unless they are working on vital projects such as hospital buildings.  Ms Freeman later told the Scottish Parliament that "good progress" was being made on expanding intensive care unit (ICU) capacity, with space being freed up to quadruple the number of ICU beds to over 700.  She said a "pipeline of ventilators is slated to come to Scotland over the coming weeks to enable this increase and we are working with suppliers to do all we can so they can be brought here as soon as is humanly possible".  The health secretary said hospital parking charges would be scrapped in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh, but said patients with worsening symptoms should first dial 111 for help rather than go to hospital.  She said callers to this line would be assessed and called back by new community hubs where senior clinicians are stationed.  A network of humanitarian assistance centres is to be set up, working with GPs and other local partners to arrange delivery of medicine, care services and grocery delivery.  Ms Freeman also said the government was working to secure more protective equipment for frontline staff, and to prioritise testing in hospitals so staff could get back to work as quickly as possible.  Ms Sturgeon said that staying home was "the only way of saving lives". People have been urged to only leave the house for:  essential shopping for food or medicines, once per day, for exercise, once a day.  For medical reasons or the care of vulnerable people, to travel to and from essential work. The first minister said: "I know how hard this is for everybody, but people should not be meeting friends or family members outside home.  Life should not be feeling normal - if it is, you are not sticking to the rules."  MSPs have also formally backed emergency Westminster legislation which gives the government wide-ranging powers to tackle the outbreak and enforce the "lockdown".

Segregated Cycle Lanes Would See Bike Use Rise Says Report

Four out of five people in Inverness would get on their bikes if there were more cycle tracks separated from traffic, a report has found.  At present, however, 66% of residents say cycling is the least safe way of travelling around the city and improvements are needed.  Bike Life, the UK’s most comprehensive assessment of cycling in cities, interviewed 1,452 people in Inverness about their cycling habits.  It was part of wider research by walking and cycling charity Sustrans Scotland covering 17 cities across the UK and Ireland and was run in partnership with The Highland Council and the Inverness Active Travel Network Programme.  Sustrans says at present, Inverness has 20 miles of traffic-free routes and 52 miles of signposted routes along quieter streets, but no cycle track physically segregated from traffic and pedestrians.  Some 25% of residents cycle at least once a week and Bike Life calculated that 3.4 million trips were cycled in Inverness in the past year. It says every day 3,200 return cycle trips are made, which equates to a £5 million annual benefit to the city from reduced vehicle and medical costs, work absenteeism, travel time and congestion. The report, the first of its kind in Inverness, revealed that 81% of interviewees felt that having more tracks separated from traffic would help them cycle more.  It also showed that 62% of interviewees believe having more cyclists would make the city a better place to live and work.  Kirsty Rankin, Sustrans Scotland Head of Partnerships, said the survey clearly showed residents want to see more people travelling by bike.  “The Highland Council can rest assured that they have the backing of the public to build on the work they have already started to enable people to choose healthy, clean and affordable journeys by getting on a bike.”  Councillor Trish Robertson, who chairs Highland Council’s economy and infrastructure committee, said: “The survey findings are very interesting and will help inform our future planning and decision-making where there are opportunities for the creation of cycling infrastructure in new developments across the Inverness area.”  Bike Life is funded by Transport Scotland in Inverness and Dundee.

Break-ins At Three Care Homes 'Linked'
The Isobel Fraser Care Home in Inverness, Meallmore Lodge in Daviot and Wade Centre in Kingussie were broken into between Friday night and early Saturday.  Four men dressed in dark clothing were seen breaking into the Inverness home.  The incident happened at about 22:30 on Friday, while Meallmore Lodge was broken into at about 00:40 on Saturday.  Two men wearing dark clothing were spotted near the Wade Centre at about 03:00 on Saturday. Police have sought further sightings of the men and a blue Audi seen in the area of the break-ins.  Det Con Graham Gordon said: "To steal precious jewellery and items from elderly people, with no thought for the impact it will have on them, is sickening."

Investment Will Be Needed to Ensure Businesses Can Rebuild and Grow

In these unprecedented times, with coronavirus continuing to impact on every aspect of life in the UK, we are all having to get used to a new reality and deal with changing advice and guidance on a daily and hourly basis. Throughout this period the Caithness Chamber of Commerce team will be working hard to support local businesses, take their concerns to the Scottish and UK governments, and do everything we can to ensure that we get through this together.  Urgent as this crisis is, however, we need to remember that this too shall pass, and that, whatever changes happen in the coming months, businesses in the north Highlands will continue to face many of the same challenges and opportunities as before, in addition to new ones. As well as supporting our members through this immediate crisis, we will also be working hard to ensure that we don’t lose sight of the long-term priorities and hopes for the area.  Getting the economy back up and running will need to be a major priority for governments. This will require investment in regions like the north Highlands, both to provide economic stimulus and to ensure that businesses have access to the critical infrastructure and services they need to rebuild and grow.  Most pressing is our continued requirement for strong transport connectivity. Prior to the impacts of coronavirus – and to Loganair announcing its withdrawal from the Wick/Edinburgh route – the Chamber presented to Transport Scotland a business case for a public service obligation (PSO) from Wick to both Aberdeen and Edinburgh.  This report lays out in clear terms the requirement for Scottish Government support for air services from the region and presents an innovative model for PSO with net zero carbon at its heart, which offers strong economic benefits to the region and which represents a sustainable return on investment for Scottish Government.     We will be working hard to ensure we don’t lose sight of the long-term priorities and hopes for the area.  While we recognise the challenges facing the aviation industry UK-wide, it is important to remember that the degradation of air services from Wick is not a new issue, nor are the challenges facing regional aviation across the UK. Securing a PSO which offers the connections businesses need to both Aberdeen and Edinburgh is a key priority for the Chamber, and we will continue to work with partners locally to ensure that Scottish Government invests in the future of air services from Wick.  On a similar note, the recent impacts of coronavirus have shown just how crucial digital connectivity is to business in the region. Many businesses and their employees have been fortunate enough to have access to the connectivity they require to enable changes in working practices, but in a remote and rural area like the north Highlands there will also be many who struggle to adapt due to poor connectivity.  This highlights clearly the concerns around the delays in delivery of superfast broadband and mobile coverage to all areas of Scotland. In addition to rolling out standard fibre connections, many areas will require innovative solutions like line-of-sight wireless networks, and it is important that the unique concerns of these areas are taken into account as the roll-out continues.  To try and end on a more positive note, there are many long-term opportunities for the north Highlands, from the upcoming ScotWind offshore wind leasing round to the exciting plans for a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland. All of these will require long-term focus to ensure that the region sees the greatest benefit.  The next few months are going to bring unprecedented challenges to businesses in the region. We will be here not only to support our members through the immediate crisis but to continue to work for the long-term benefit of the region. These are exceptional times, but we are all in it together.

Probe After Cracks Show in Renovated Broomhill High Rise Flats

Cracks have started to show in the Broomhill high rise flats which were renovated in a £30 million regeneration programme - with a full probe now under way.  River Clyde Homes has been forced to carry out investigations after faults were found on Broomhill, Prospecthill and Whinhill courts on Ann Street.  They sent up contractors in high access cradles to get a closer look, after using drones to take pictures.  The housing association were responding to reports of fractures, along with discolouration and water pouring down onto the street below.  It follows problems with biomass heating system installed in the neighbourhood, part of the Greenock central area recently named as the most deprived place in Scotland.  Councillor Jackson said: "I raised this with River Clyde Homes but they didn't act so I raised it with council bosses.”  The Broomhill regeneration programme was launched to tackle deteriorating housing stock and address social issues and it has been hailed by housing bosses.  All three high rise flats were fully refurbished, along with surrounding lower level blocks.  But the estate has been beset with problems and local people have called for an inquiry.  A catalogue of complaints have been logged over the £7m biomass district heating system, with RCH recently admitting to problems and vowing to rectify them.  Cllr Jackson also hit out last year when RCH axed £5m worth of environmental improvements in surrounding streets - including Ann Street and Dempster Street - and the under-pressure association later promised to go ahead and carry out the work.  River Clyde Homes insists the checks being carried out on the Broomhill blocks are routine.  Richard Orr, senior project manager, said: “River Clyde Homes had instructed drone camera surveys of the 13 multi-storey blocks that we manage.  This is a routine maintenance requirement in order to maintain the warranty on the render systems.  When we have the full results, any required actions will be taken.”

The Capital Starts to Grind to A Halt
The centre of Edinburgh would normally be bustling with tourists, office workers and shoppers. But as more people follow social distancing advice in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus, the capital has begun grinding to a halt.  Edinburgh's main thoroughfare has become a lot quieter with few people walking along Princes Street and many neighbouring streets being deserted.  Many shops and food outlets have closed with others restricting access.  Buses are running empty, including the city's sightseeing buses for tourists.  And the capital's iconic park, Princes Street Gardens, is bare apart from some council gardeners cutting the grass and tending the flower beds.  Most big department stores have closed or are closing in Edinburgh's city centre.  Those shops that are not shut have signs in their windows saying "contactless card payments only", "no money" and "only one customer at a time". Many cafes and big coffee chains are closed. Only a couple of them are serving takeaway coffees.  Most restaurants have signs in their windows saying they have been "forced to close" while a few are still trying to make ends meet by running food deliveries only. Cafe Nero on Lothian Road even has a sign offering free drinks to NHS staff. Several of the people seen in the city centre were tourists. Alyse Sugahara, 32, and her husband, Shota Sugahara, 34, from Osaka in Tokyo said their flight to Japan had been postponed. Mrs Sugahara, a translator said: "We were due to fly home today (Monday) but our flight has been cancelled and we were thrown out of our Airbnb because they needed it for the next people.  We are sitting here in the Grassmarket because we have nowhere else to go. We have managed to get another Airbnb but we can't get in until later.  We are getting really worried now that we are running out of money. We are hoping there is now a flight we can catch on Wednesday but everything is changing at the last minute now. That it is a big concern for us.  "We have had all our trips and flights during our stay cancelled and we have not had refunds so it's been hard."  Princes Street Gardens is now deserted with only a few gardeners tending to the flower beds and cutting the grass.  The Meadows is also empty apart from lone joggers circling the perimeter and a few cyclists.  The Royal Mile is very quiet now, not eerie yet, but almost as empty as it is on Christmas Day.

Coronavirus: Scotland to Set Up its Own Expert Group

The Scottish government is setting up its own expert group to advise on tackling the spread of coronavirus.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the team would "supplement" advice from the UK-wide Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).  The move came as it emerged further six people with coronavirus in Scotland have died, taking the total to 22. A total of 51 patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 are being treated in intensive care units.  There have been 719 positive tests for coronavirus, while 9,957 tests have proven negative.  Ms Sturgeon said the new advisory group would be chaired by Prof Andrew Morris of Edinburgh University, director of Health Data Research UK.  The first minister said: "At all times the Scottish government's actions have been guided by the best and most up to date expert scientific advice, working closely of course with governments across the UK.  But as the number of cases increases it's ever more important that we have the fullest possible understanding of exactly how the virus is spreading in Scotland.  We need to be certain the decisions we are taking are the most effective ones possible and we need to know whether there are more steps that require to be taken."  Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood suggested that the move could ultimately see Scotland pursue different policies to the rest of the UK.  "The advice about suppressive measures has been all over the UK, because that's what we need to stop the transmission of the virus," she said.  "But in time we will want to apply our own Scottish data to some of these advisory measures.  Perhaps it will not be appropriate to have all of the suppression measures in all of the country as we progress through the transmission of this disease and as we see how the capacity of our NHS is holding up."  Speaking at a briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon also praised key workers who have children for finding creative solutions to childcare, saying that only 1% of people had taken up the childcare which was on offer.  It was earlier announced that household members of key health and social care workers' families are to be given priority testing for Covid-19 if they show symptoms.  This means that if household members test negative, the key worker can return to work immediately.  Ms Sturgeon also said further guidance will be made available to employers.  "Fundamentally, most businesses should and will know whether they will be closed," she added.  She said the government was relying on them to be responsible "and put the health of their workers first".  The Scottish government and the Scottish Trades Union Congress have signed a joint agreement on fair work, as there was concern about some workers being put under pressure to continue working when it was not appropriate. Although the UK Westminster government has said construction work could continue where it was safe to do so, Ms Sturgeon insisted building sites should not be open unless they were working on essential facilities like hospitals.

'More Help' Needed for Those Who Want to Volunteer

The chairwoman of Maryhill Comunity Centre Hall in Glasgow, Anna Dyer, says more support and guidance are needed for vounteers who want to help during the coronavirus crisis.  Ms Dyer told Kaye Adams that she has already had to stand down many of her existing volunteers because they are in a vulnerable group.  The Maryhill Community Centre is currently running a childcare nursery for key workers.  Ms Dyer said Maryhill was one of the most deprived areas of Scotland with many single-person households that had no internet access, making people very isolated.

Latest on Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the Western Isles

After taking advice from the Scottish Government in relation to Coronavirus, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is implementing a practice of having a single representative as residents’ named visitor at its care homes.  The Comhairle is also restricting visiting times in all its Care Homes to the hours of between 2pm – 3.30pm and 6pm - 7.30pm.  The only exceptions to these times will be where the named representative is supporting a resident during meal-times.  Residents’ representatives will be contacted directly by Care Home staff to discuss this.   The Care homes affected are Dun Berisay, Dun Eisdean and Ardseileach in Stornoway, Harris House in Tarbert, Isle of Harris, Trianaid, in Carinish, North Uist, Taigh a’Chridhe Uile Naomh in South Uist and St Brendan’s in Castlebay on Barra.  A spokesperson said: “We are following national advice on this matter.  We understand that relatives and friends will be concerned but we are asking for understanding and co-operation. This is about reducing risk and protecting health. Many Care Home residents are vulnerable due to age and underlying medical conditions and these steps are being taken to afford the best possible protection for residents and their carers.”

Lecturer Dies in Highland Climbing Accident
Tributes have been paid to a lecturer who died in a climbing accident in the Highlands.  Ewan Lyons, 50, died on Beinn Dearg in the Torridon range near Ullapool at the weekend.  The keen mountaineer was an architectural technology lecturer at Inverness College UHI. Principal Prof Chris O'Neill said he was highly regarded by staff and students.  Mr Lyons joined the college as a mature student in 2010, before becoming a lecturer.  Prof O'Neill added: "It was his experience as a student which gave Ewan a special affinity with his students. He was a hardworking and calm lecturer, widely respected by staff, students and the close-knit construction industry.  He will be missed for his upbeat manner, bright conversations and his determination to always put the student experience first."  Mr Lyons was passionate about building conservation and enjoyed spending his summer months on the hillside repairing old bothies.

Highland Beauty Queens Dazzle At Contest

Two Highland beauties lit up the stage at a pageant attracting entries from across the UK. Tegan Smith (18) from Smithton, and Hannah Webster (18) from Nairn, were invited to appear at a national competition for beauty contest winners.  Both were winners in the regional heats of the Miss Teen Galaxy UK competition, where charity and volunteering work is part of the judging criteria.  Hannah was placed second overall in the competition, held in Chorley, while Tegan was placed in the top 10 of more than three dozen youngsters who were regional winners from across the country.  Tegan, who is a shop supervisor, said: “I won the Miss Teen Inverness Galaxy competition and got through to the national competition.  I was terrified about taking part. I really didn’t want to go on the stage and I was in tears at the thought of it.  But as soon as I was up there, I actually quite enjoyed it, and when I came off stage I would definitely have got straight back up onto it.  It really pushed me out of my comfort zone, but it was a good thing.  I am a home bird.  I even chose not to take up a university place at Napier because I didn’t want to leave my mum, so I am now studying beauty at university here.”  Hannah, who is an operations worker at Cawdor Castle, said that she has become good friends with Tegan.  “I didn’t know Tegan before the competitions, but as soon as I saw we were both taking part, I got in touch with her to see if we could do things together,” she said.  Hannah was named Miss Teen Highland in a competition earlier in the year.  She continued: “It has been lovely to get to know Tegan. I was very nervous about the interview part of the competition, and I thought I had made a bit of a mess of it. One of the judges was Amy Hart from Love Island and I just felt that put a lot of pressure on me. When I found out that I had gained the highest points in this area I was amazed, and delighted.  “Amy told me afterwards that I interviewed really well, and it was more like a chat than an interview.”

SEC in Glasgow Being Assessed As Temporary Hospital

The army in Scotland has confirmed that officers from the Royal Engineers have been assessing the SEC in Glasgow as a possible site for a temporary hospital facility. A spokesman said the engineers are currently drawing up plans for a hospital but stressed it would be run by the NHS not the military.  And senior officers from the 2 Scots Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland have set up their headquarters at the Scottish government base in St Andrews House in Edinburgh.  Army liaison officers are also now being deployed to every health board across Scotland. The spokesman added that the army was providing planning, logistics and liaison and that no troops had been deployed as yet.

'We're Stranded in the Pacific Ocean - But That Won't Stop Us Cruising'

A retired senior police officer has been stranded on a cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean for the last 12 days after passengers were denied entry to their final stop in Chile.  James Green and wife Sylvia, from Glasgow, were due to finish their cruise on the Celebrity Eclipse at San Antonio - but were told they would be spending another two weeks on board as the ship had to re-route to San Diego, California.  Many Scottish holidaymakers have expressed concern at being stranded abroad all over the world - but James is grateful to the firm for keeping up the care of passengers and making the extended trip feel "as normal as possible".  He said: "Celebrity have been outstanding, liaising with the various consulates of the various nationalities on board and trying to secure flights home. All of us have missed flights from Chile and with air travel impacted by the virus, we expect a flight to be one arranged by the FCO.  The captain and cruise director have been fantastic throughout. This will not stop us cruising, We have some booked already in future."