Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 553

Issue # 553                                           Week ending Saturday 23rd May  2020

Why Sign Up for An Online Course? To Teach Other People, of Course by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Having no idea Nicola Sturgeon was going to announce easing of some lockdown restrictions, I was chewing the curtains last week because everything was doing my head in, I decided I was going to improve my mind. Mrs X mumbled that it was far too late for that but I began searching for online courses anyway. I would show her. There are loads of courses and many at a discount price just now. The range available is truly mind-boggling.

Among the courses to teach you how to build your own website and speak French in 14 days are some weird ones. Build A Radio With Old Fridge Parts is one I could have tried - when I was a kid. Another course I found is how to Communicate With Your Animal Telepathically. Provider Udemy says 381 people have already enrolled and students have rated it as a 3.3 out of five.

There are preview videos for a taster. The instructor suggests you ask your dog before taking any big decision like marrying, moving, divorcing or putting the dog down. It says: “Ask the dog’s permission to see how they feel about it.” If this is something you feel you need to do, that course is on offer right now with 20 per cent off. It was £24.99 but is currently just £19.99.

We don’t have a dog now and I will not be asking permission from Mrs X to do any of these things either. Just saying. For the record. In case it is used against me in a court of law. Or in our kitchen when she is in a foul mood and throwing pans about. Or anywhere. Ever. Not that I would want to, of course ... Have I forgotten anything? Good. I just hope she has not taken a course called Communicate With Your Husband Telepathically.

I did choose one. Now I will use this time to study, er, trees. It was by accident. Having sore gums, I thought Dental Care At Home would be the ideal course for me during lockdown. Maybe I clicked the wrong button because I actually ended up buying Dendrology - Branch Into The Study Of Trees. Fascinating. There’s just so much to learn about old leafy columns. They get their goodness from the soil deep underground, you know. I have even downloaded a new phone application to help identify different tree resins. It’s called What Sap.

My friend Pat in Perth has found a novel way to pass the time during lockdown. She and her family pretend to be on Gogglebox. They sit in the same seats every night at home. They then put out cupcakes but, of course, they don’t eat them. Then they have their large dog climbing all over them. Of course, they scream like banshees when something slightly scary comes on the telly.

When Pat is not screaming, she is also studying online for her driving test. Poor Pat. After procrastinating about it for many years, she is finally determined to get behind the wheel. The driving theory tests are expected to resume at the end of the month and the practical tests should start soon after that. I hope Pat gets on well. Her first attempt at the theory part, before lockdown, did not go well at all. The question said: “What is a sign you may see on a country road?” It turned out that Pick Your Own Strawberries wasn’t an acceptable answer.

While most of us are in lockdown, we tend to forget that many people still have to go out. Our brave and worthy key workers, for instance. And we can too easily forget that in some ways, the world is still carrying on without us. When I went out the other day, after more than a week, I saw things that I had not noticed before. For instance, I saw one of these driverless cars. In fact, the car-park at Tesco was full of them.

The fantastic news this week is that we are almost out of total lockdown. On May 28 some easing will be pleasing. Nicola Sturgeon announced on Monday that we will be able to meet people from other houses as long as we do not shake hands, hold hands, hug, kiss or do anything that the Free Church (Continuing) would disapprove of. Aw, heck. Still, it’s a start. The handshakes will come soon enough. And the hugging. And the kissing. After all these months, some of us are set to do plenty for the Continuing to shake its head at.

So, what else did we learn this week? Before long, kids may be allowed to go back to school - just in time for the summer holidays. I wish I was a kid. All the other restrictions will be relaxed bit by bit as long as there are no more bad outbreaks in Scotland. Let’s hope there are not. The lifting of the worst restrictions has to happen soon though. It just has to.

Time is running out. We are only four weeks away from finding out everyone’s true hair colour.

Teenage 'Tombstoner' in Lifeboat Rescue From Arbroath Cliffs
A teenager had to be rescued by two lifeboat crews after becoming stranded on cliffs while "tombstoning" near Arbroath harbour.  The boy was among a group of youths who were jumping into the sea close the Horseshoe cave when he became trapped by the incoming tide. One lifeboat team was able to get the teenager off the cliffs before he was returned to shore by a second crew.  The youngster was checked over by paramedics but was not thought to be injured.  Lifeboat operations manager Alex Smith said "Thankfully our volunteer crews were able to attend this incident quickly and bring the casualty safely back to shore.  However, we must urge members of the public to continue following government advice during lockdown."

Church of Scotland Moderator Installed At Service Streamed Online

The new moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has been installed at a service streamed online for the first time.  The Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair takes over from the Very Rev Colin Sinclair as the Kirk's ambassador at home and abroad.  The service in Edinburgh was held on what should have been the opening day of the church's annual general assembly.  It was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The ceremony normally takes place before an audience of around 800 commissioners.  Instead only five people, a BSL interpreter and a skeleton camera crew were there, all following strict social distancing guidelines.  The moderator, who is the minister of St Andrews Parish Church in Arbroath, thanked the church for the "enormous honour" of the office.  He said: "I'm not sure I've ever felt a greater weight of responsibility but neither have I ever felt more supported, practically and by the prayers of God's people."  He added: "Let me assure the nation that the Church of Scotland, with our partner churches, will continue to pray for and support those who are most acutely affected.

Wigtown Book Festival Makes Online Switch
Scotland's national book town has decided to take its annual festival online.The Wigtown event will still run from 25 September to 4 October with the themes of resilience and connection.  Creative director Adrian Turpin said a key aim would be to raise the town's profile while looking forward to a time when the region could welcome visitors.  He said nobody had wanted the situation but it might help the event to reach new audiences. A number of link-ups with other book towns around the world will feature as part of the festival.  As well as live online speaker events, the 2020 festival will feature its usual mix of art exhibitions, film events, music and performance.  The Magnusson lecture - in honour of Magnus Magnusson - will also go digital for the first time and be delivered by historian Rosemary Goring.  Talking about her involvement in the festival, Sally Magnusson said: "I'm delighted that the Magnusson lecture will be online and that the festival will bring some of the previous lectures to a wider audience through the creative use of digital.  Wigtown has already been engaging wonderfully with audiences during the crisis, and I've enjoyed participating myself.  I can't wait for the autumn festival."  Mr Turpin said they had already put a lot of effort into creating new content but the hope was that they could return to a more traditional format in 2021.

Positive Signs That Ayrshire is Turning Covid-19 Corner

There has been an increase in positive COVID-19 cases across Ayrshire and Arran of just eight.  There are signs today that Ayrshire and Arran may be turning a COVID-19 corner. Across the NHS Ayrshire & Arran region, there are now 974 cases of the disease which is an increase of just eight on yesterday. This follows on from only two confirmed cases in the document which was published for the previous recording period. There are fewer than five patients, within the health board's region, in intensive care with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.  However, the number of people in hospital with confirmed coronavirus at midnight stood at 32.  Sadly, Scotland's coronavirus death toll has reached 2,103 – which is a rise of nine from yesterday's report.  The Scottish Government released figures this afternoon as part of its daily COVID-19 update to the nation.  In Scotland, a total of 87,660 tests have been carried out with 14,537 delivering a positive result for the coronavirus.

Hopes Shift to Local Shopping Will Remain Once Virus Lockdown is Over

A Moray campaigner hopes a shift in shopping habits to local producers will continue once the coronavirus lockdown is over. Juliette Buchan, from Elgin, launched a social media site in the early days of the pandemic reaching the north-east to help direct people to suppliers in the area who were remaining open.  However, the whisky industry worker has been overwhelmed by the interest in her Moray Shop Local page in recent weeks as people make new shopping discoveries on their doorstep.  And Mrs Buchan hopes the legacy will be permanent to help support local producers create a “vibrant community” in the area.  She said: “There’s a new way of thinking at the moment.  People are wanting to shop local because they can’t necessarily get what they need from the supermarkets or Amazon at this time.  What has been happening though is that people wanting to buy local don’t necessarily know where to go, which is where I have been trying to help.  I’m from France originally and all of the local shops have gone there. There’s no vibrancy.  It would be nice to see that continue here once all this ends instead of going back online for the sake of saving a couple of pounds.”

Contact Tracing Technology Trialled At Three Health Boards

A contact tracing system to suppress coronavirus is to be trialled in three health boards from Monday, the Scottish government has said.  The software will be tested in NHS Fife, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland.  Earlier this month, the government said testing and tracing would be "key" to the battle against the virus. However, it has been revealed that despite 8,000 applications for 2,000 jobs as contact tracers, no-one has yet been hired.  The Scottish government has opted for a system of alerting people by a telephone call initially, rather than using a smartphone "proximity" app of the kind being trialled elsewhere in the UK. But it has not ruled out making use of such proximity technology in future.  Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the two-week pilot would allow health boards to test out the software which contact tracers will in future use to collect data.  She said 600 additional staff from the NHS were "ready to begin this work, as part of the process of recruiting up to 2,000 staff".  Scottish Labour has claimed the health secretary has "serious questions to answer" over why no tracers had so far been hired.  But Ms Freeman insisted the first "prong of the strategy" was to utilise existing NHS staff, and that others would be recruited once necessary pre-employment and disclosure checks were complete.  Speaking at the government's daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday, Ms Freeman said the software technology would allow contact tracing "on a much larger scale"  The tracing software is different to the app piloted by the NHS in England which has been downloaded more than 55,000 times since being launched on the Isle of Wight.  Ms Freeman said the Scottish software would "focus on supporting public health teams to identify outbreaks".  She said it could reduce transmission in high risk groups and settings by making it easier for staff to collect and record information. "The test, trace, isolate and support approach is about breaking the chain of transmission of the virus but it remains vital that alongside this people continue to follow physical distancing advice and practise good hand and cough hygiene," she said.  Ms Freeman said the technology would be rolled out to all health boards by the end of May and then "enhanced further" during June.  The health secretary said current NHS staff and "returning workers" would be the first and second group of contact tracers in place.  As for new recruits, she said: "We need to go through proper pre-employment checks and disclosure checks as well as training.  All of that work is under way and I am confident that we will get to that 2,000 number through that three-fold process but also with the help of other groups we are talking to, such as the St Andrew's First Aid Service."  Scottish Labour's health and social care spokeswoman Monica Lennon said the safety of the people of Scotland must not be "hampered by a failure to hire contact tracers".  She said: "Contact tracing should never have been abandoned.  The cabinet secretary for health has been too slow to hire contact tracers despite clear demand for the role.  "The Scottish government did not act swiftly enough to protect the people of Scotland when a proactive approach to this incredibly serious public health emergency was needed."  During the Scottish government briefing, Jeane Freeman also said the Scottish government had issued new guidance for arrangements in care homes. She said the guidance would ensure "enhanced professional and clinical care oversight".  It comes after a leading care sector organisation called for coronavirus testing to be expanded to care homes that are currently thought to be virus-free.  Currently, all staff and residents are tested at a care home whenever there is a confirmed case of Covid-19.  Scottish care chief executive Donald Macaskill had earlier told the BBC that there should be regular testing of all staff and residents.  Ms Freeman said the new rules would make sure clinical care, infection prevention and control, PPE and testing arrangements were "where we need them to be".  New measures added to the Coronavirus Bill, and to be considered by Parliament this week, would see the government take over the running of failing care homes.  Ms Freeman said these powers to ensure continuation of care would only be exercised as a "last resort". "Further action will be taken to address any failings that arise, and will be taken quickly," she said.

Who is Behind Glasgow's Covid Street Art?
While Scotland has been under lockdown, Glasgow's street artists have been trying to reflect the mood of the nation.  Using city centre buildings as their canvas, painted murals pay tribute to the NHS while others urge fellow citizens to stay safe.  But who are the artists responsible for the images that have brightened up the city's deserted streets? One of those behind some of the most striking paintings is known as The Rebel Bear.  Acknowledging that his activities are "not strictly legal", he agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.  Since lockdown began in March, he has ventured out three times in the "dead of night" to create his artwork.  The first was an image of a couple pulling down their masks to share a kiss.  Painted on the wall of a tenement in the city's West End, The Bear said he wanted to "provoke hope" of life after lockdown.  "And also to show the tightrope between fear and love that many of us are walking at the moment," he added.  A second piece popped up on Bath Street in early April.  It shows a man chained to a bright green coronavirus cell, highlighting the frustration felt by everyone restricted by the virus.  The Bear's latest work - of a doctor in a blue protective mask and gloves - is on a bright white wall in Ashton Lane. He said it was dedicated to all front-line medical workers and symbolised "our collective gratitude".  He posts his work on The Rebel Bear Instagram page, and has seen photographs of his work in national newspapers and websites.  "The reaction has been brilliant", he said. "I really appreciate the support and feel very lucky that people enjoy my work and are able to take something from it."  Having created street art in Glasgow and around the world for the past four years, The Bear has inevitably been described as the "Scottish Banksy".  "I feel like I am on my own path," he said. "Saying that, I still feel privileged to be labelled as the 'Scottish Banksy'. Banksy and other artists such as blek le rat etc have paved the way for street art and have inspired my journey."  But his main motivation is "to make people think and hopefully raise a smile".

Top Scots Medics Say Gargling Saltwater Could Treat Covid-19
Gargling saltwater should be considered as a treatment for Covid-19, top Edinburgh medics have advised.  The group of virologists at Edinburgh University found the treatment reduced the time patients with other forms of coronavirus were infected.  They called for further research to discover if it also works for Covid-19 after their study was published in the Journal of Global Health.  “The intervention appeared likely to be effective in reducing symptoms and duration of the illness,” consultant virologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Dr Sandeep Ramalingam wrote.  “It is unclear if hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling is also effective in COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2; a trial is therefore urgently needed.”  The study compared the recovery of 66 patients with nose and throat infections at the Royal Infirmary and Western General hospitals in Edinburgh.  While 32 of the patients were told to flush their nostrils and gargle saltwater up to 12 times a day, the other 34 kept on with their normal treatment.  Nose swabs were taken and found that the treatment reduced the duration of coronavirus upper respiratory tract infection by an average of two-and-a-half days.

Europe's Supercomputers Hijacked by Attackers for Crypto Mining

At least a dozen supercomputers across Europe have shut down after cyber-attacks tried to take control of them.  A pan-European supercomputing group says they seem to have tried to use the machines to mine cryptocurrency.  "A security exploitation" disabled access to the Archer supercomputer, at the University of Edinburgh, on 11 May.  Staff said they were working with the National Cyber Security Centre to restore the system, which had recently installed a pandemic modelling tool. "We now believe this to be a major issue across the academic community as several computers have been compromised in the UK and elsewhere in Europe," the team said. The NCSC said: "We are aware of this incident and are providing support.  The NCSC works with the academic sector to help it improve its security practices and protect its institutions from threats." Also on 11 May, another attack shut down five supercomputers in Germany. Others followed elsewhere in Germany in the following days, as well as in Switzerland, and reportedly Barcelona.  They exploited an Secure Shell (SSH) connection, which academic researchers use to log in to the system remotely. And once inside, the attackers appear to have deployed cryptocurrency-mining malware. The security team at the European Group Infrastructure foundation said: "A malicious group is currently targeting academic data centres for CPU [central processing unit] mining purposes. "The attacker is hopping from one victim to another using compromised SSH credentials." Jamie Akhtar, chief executive of UK security company Cybersmart, said: "Universities are home to some of the most advanced research projects in the world across many disciplines - including computer science - but they are also notoriously vulnerable to attack if they are connected to the wider university network."

Should Cruise Ships Dock in Clyde During Pandemic?

Inverclyde Council will discuss the potential docking of cruise ships on the Clyde during the Covid-19 pandemic.  The area's port operators have had requests to lay-up cruise ships with skeleton staff at Greenock and other sites.  Councillors are opposed due to the pressure that could be put on health services by an outbreak among crews.  But Peel Ports said there was no reason to treat cruise ships with minimal staff differently to cargo ships.  It comes as Inverclyde remains the worst-hit council area in terms of deaths involving coronavirus. The council said it was a matter for Peel Ports as Harbour Authority.  But it believes there are alternative locations for cruise ships where the port infrastructure and access to health services "have more resilience". Council members are expected to meet on Tuesday for talks on the issue which could be further confused by UK Westminster government directive for all people entering the UK to quarantine for 14 days. Council leader Stephen McCabe said Inverclyde had shown that "we are there for people in a crisis" and that Greenock "will always be a port of safe harbour". However he added the council could not support Peel Ports' proposal as it "wouldn't be appropriate" to place a "significant" number of people in one location, potentially putting strain on health services.  Mr McCabe said: "We do not want to put anyone, including the crew of the cruise ships, into any harm and it is crucially important that nothing is done that interferes with the stay at home messages. We want many more people to visit and discover the amazing things we have in Inverclyde, but our message is not right now." Mark Whitworth, chief executive officer for Peel Ports Group, wrote to Inverclyde Council saying cruise ships seeking harbour would be similar to cargo ships due to their skeleton crews and "interface with the shoreside".  He said there was a "strict, well-established protocol" in place enabling local port health teams to make assessments - including scenarios with cases of Covid-19.  Mr Whitworth continued: "Whilst it is of a primary importance to consider the health emergency, we also need to recognise that in the weeks ahead, once we have beaten the virus and looked after our people, our thoughts will need to focus on the economic challenges.  "It has not gone unnoticed within the cruise industry that Inverclyde have been unwilling to support the sector when it needed practical help and at a time when other ports in Scotland and around the wider UK and Ireland coastline have been more accommodating.  Looking after all our people and visitors alike will remain our primary importance."

Rocket Test First of its Kind in UK in 50 Years

The UK's first complete ground rocket test in 50 years has been carried out in Scotland. The 11m (36ft) tall Skylark-L rocket was tested at Kildermorie Estate, near Alness in the Highlands by Edinburgh-based space technologies firm Skyrora.  The rocket performed all the actions of a launch while restrained to the ground to prevent it from taking off. Skyrora is designing and building rockets to carry small satellites into space.  A team built a mobile launch complex for the test last Friday.  The company said its business had not been asked to close during the lockdown and its work had followed government guidelines. The launch was done in a remote location and "strict social distancing measures were adhered to".  Skyrora said it was the first test of this magnitude in the UK since the Black Arrow programme 50 years ago.  It said the Skylark L rocket could be ready to launch from a UK spaceport as early as spring 2021. Sites in the Highlands, Western Isles and Northern Isles are being considered for small satellite launch complexes. Chief executive Volodymyr Levykin said: "This was a mammoth effort in very trying circumstances, so it is quite an achievement to be proud of. The operation was carried out while having to adhere to very strict social distancing measures, and in an extremely remote location, providing additional challenges, all of which were handled expertly by all the team."

More Than 200 Residents Die At HC-One Care Homes in Scotland

The company at the centre of a care home coronavirus outbreak on Skye says a total of 207 residents have died in its Scottish facilities.  HC-One said it had recorded 1,002 suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 to date in its 56 homes.  On Sunday it was confirmed that a 10th resident had died at Home Farm care home in Portree.  A total of 30 residents and 29 staff have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Skye facility.  NHS Highland is now helping to run the home after the Care Inspectorate raised "serious and significant concerns".  In a statement released on Monday, HC-One said: "The impact of Covid-19 on us, on the UK and the world is unprecedented, and there is a professional and public interest to learn about its impact and discuss this openly. Consequently, we have decided to share the number of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases and the number of residents who have sadly lost their lives, at a company level." It added: "We are supporting the families of all of those residents who have been affected and those who have lost their lives, and our thoughts and condolences are with all those who have lost loved ones. "If there has been an outbreak at a home, or if there has been a change in a resident's health or care, we have been informing the respective relatives as a matter of priority."  On Thursday, the Care Inspectorate began legal action which could prevent HC-One running the facility.  HC-One said it was disappointed the Care Inspectorate had taken the legal action, adding that it was working with NHS Highland to implement a "robust action plan".  Skye had no confirmed cases of Covid-19 prior to the outbreak at Home Farm. All but four of the home's 34 residents have contracted the virus.  HC-One - the UK's largest care home operator - brought in temporary staff from outside the island, but insisted these were from homes that were believed to be Covid-free.  Families of the residents have criticised HC-One for only giving out limited information and for a "lack of transparency" about events at the home.  New measures have been introduced in the past week for health boards to be able to take over private care homes if they are failing.  Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said that about 41% of Scotland's care homes had coronavirus cases, and that the NHS would step into care homes where it was necessary during the ongoing pandemic.

BiFab Denies Firth of Forth Contract Claims

Claims that Burntisland Fabrications Ltd (BIFab) is set to miss out in its bid for contracts in the Seagreen wind farm development in the Firth of Forth, have been firmly denied by the company.  A report last weekend claimed that BiFab was set to lose out on contracts in the development after SSE, which owns Seagreen Wind Energy Ltd and which has exclusive development rights from the Crown Estate for the area, awarded the contracts to other European companies.  But a spokesperson for BiFab said this week that the claims weren’t accurate and that the company remains in negotiations in relation to the development, and concluded: “…as long as the negotiations are on-going we remain optimistic for success.” BiFab is jointly owned by Canadian industrial fabrication and manufacturing giant D F Barnes and the Scottish Government, which has a minority stake in the company.  BiFab delivers major fabrication works from yards in Fife and on the Isle of Lewis for the oil, gas and renewables sectors.  BiFab’s yard at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis was moth-balled at the end of last year after it completed its share of works on a BiFab contract for pin piles for the Moray Firth wind farm development.

Scottish Lockdown Easing to Begin Next Week
Lockdown restrictions in Scotland are likely to be relaxed slightly from 28 May, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.  The first minister made the announcement as she unveiled a four-phase "route map" aimed at restarting society while suppressing the virus.  The first phase will include allowing people to meet outside with people from one other household. Schools will reopen on 11 August - meaning many will return a week earlier than planned after the summer holiday. But the first minister said children will return to a "blended model" where they will do a mix of school and home learning.  Teachers will return to schools in June, with transition support being given, where possible, to children going into Primary 1 or moving from primary to secondary schools.  And an increased number of children will have access to critical childcare - which has been provided for the children of key workers during lockdown.  Ms Sturgeon said the first phase of easing will see garden centres and recycling facilities reopen, while some outdoor activities such as golf, fishing, tennis and bowls will be allowed again, as will outdoor work such as agriculture and forestry.  People will also be able to sit or sunbathe in parks and open areas, and will be able to meet people from one other household - although only initially in small numbers and while they are outside.  Different households should remain two metres apart from each other, and visiting inside other people's houses will not be permitted in the first phase.  In addition, people will be able to travel - preferably by walking or cycling - for recreation, although they will be asked to remain "where possible" within or close to their own local area.  Take-away and drive-through food outlets will no longer be discouraged from re-opening, so long as they apply safe physical distancing, but "non-essential" indoor shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs must remain closed during the first phase.  There will also be a phased resumption of some aspects of the criminal justice system, as well as face-to-face Children's Hearings, and people at risk will have more contact with social work and other support services. And NHS services which were cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis will "carefully and gradually" resume.
The Scottish government has identified four phases for easing the restrictions:

Phase 1: Virus not yet contained but cases are falling. From 28 May you should be able to meet another household outside in small numbers. Sunbathing is allowed, along with some outdoor activities like golf and fishing. Garden centres and drive-through takeaways can reopen, some outdoor work can resume, and childminding services can begin.

Phase 2:
Virus controlled. You can meet larger groups outdoors, and meet another household indoors. Construction, factories, warehouses, laboratories and small shops can resume work. Playgrounds and sports courts can reopen, and professional sport can begin again.

Phase 3: Virus suppressed. You can meet people from more than one household indoors. Non-essential offices would reopen, along with gyms, museums, libraries, cinemas, larger shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and dentists. Live events could take place with restricted numbers and physical distancing restrictions. Schools should reopen from 11 August.

Phase 4: Virus no longer a significant threat. University and college campuses can reopen in full, mass gatherings are allowed. All workplaces open and public transport is back at full capacity.

The situation will be reviewed every three weeks, with further phases of easing being introduced if enough progress is being made on keeping the virus under control.  However, Ms Sturgeon said she hoped to be able to move more quickly than that if the evidence allows. She described the first steps as "proportionate and suitably cautious", and said they were intended to "bring some improvement to people's well being and quality of life, start to get our economy moving again, and start to steer us safely towards a new normality". The first minister added: "It's important to stress, though, that while the permitted reasons to be out of your house will increase, the default message during phase one will remain stay at home as much as possible." Ms Sturgeon said her route map did not yet set definite dates for when future phases will be introduced, because the virus is unpredictable.  She said: "Our emergence from lockdown will be faster or slower, depending on the continued success that we have in suppressing the virus.  In the weeks ahead our messages will become more nuanced and complex as we strike a difficult balance protecting public health and allowing personal choice. Straightforward, strict rules will gradually be replaced by the need for all of us to exercise judgment and responsibility."  However, Ms Sturgeon said key advice such as isolating if you have symptoms of Covid, strict physical distancing, washing your hands and face coverings will remain the same. Some of the easing measures announced by Ms Sturgeon were introduced in England last week, but the first minister said at the time it would not be safe for Scotland to follow the same timetable.  This was largely because the so-called R number - essentially the rate at which the virus is spreading - has been higher in Scotland than in some other parts of the UK.  However the number of people who are dying with coronavirus in Scotland has been falling in recent weeks, as has the number of patients needing hospital treatment and intensive care. This has given the first minister and her advisers more confidence that any relaxation of the lockdown - which was introduced across the UK on 23 March - will not lead to a resurgence in the virus.  Dr Poppy Lamberton, an epidemiologist at Glasgow University, said the "lag" between Scotland and England would help the Scottish government to judge the potential impact of easing the lockdown, and whether it will lead to an increase in the infection rate.

Return of Angling Will Help Tackle Illegal Fishing

Angling groups have welcomed the Scottish government's decision to relax rules around fishing.  Ness District Salmon Fishery Board in the Highlands said the move would help tackle increased incidents of illegal fishing seen during the lockdown.  Anglers play a part in alerting fishery boards to poaching.  Chris Conroy, of Ness District Salmon Fishery Board, said: “Our anglers have been extremely diligent in obeying the catch and release programme to combat falling salmon numbers and they deserve the opportunity to resume their favourite sport."