Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 552

Issue # 552                                            Week ending Saturday 16th May  2020

Use Your Little Grey Cells and Beat Lockdown with That Belgian Detective by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Bingeing is the new normal in this house. It is all about excess, recklessness and not caring. Yep, that’s us. Myself and herself have taken to sinking into the upholstery and not caring about the dishes. The custard creams are in my left hand and I binge with my right hand. No, not whisky, vodka or brandy, although there have been times in the last couple of months that I have been tempted, but on a TV series. In my right hand is the remote control.

You think we have started streaming these famous box sets like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad? Mais non, monsieur. Just because the rest of the world is streaming fancy classics, the only streaming here is the coffee from the percolator as we fast-forward through the commercial breaks. Remember them? We do not even have to connect to Netflix for our fix of the greatest detective in the world - according to himself, anyway.

A creation of crime writer Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot is back on the box. If you switch to ITV3 at any time of the day or night, the chances are that you are never more than a few hours away from David Suchet as the slightly-pompous Belgian sleuth. We really did not appreciate the fastidious wee cove when it was repeated the first seven times. Now the virus has led us to discover him and his dozy sidekick, Captain Hastings.

In her novels, Ms Agatha had a way with words like no one else when describing the ultra-prim and proper Hercule. Her descriptions can have you in stitches. Such as: “Hercule Poirot addressed himself to the task of keeping his moustaches out of the soup.” She has even been known to dole out marriage guidance advice to squabbling couples. She suggested men should take up the study of old fossils. There was a reason, as she added: “An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.” Brilliant.

Her creation Hercule looks for clues with “his little grey cells”, is upset when mistaken for being French and hindered by the hapless Hastings. Poirot was on the air for 13 series with about 70 episodes, each adapted from a novel or a short story. Most are an hour long but some of the most gripping last more than two hours. Have a wee binge.

We will soon be fossils ourselves because I get a feeling we are going backwards. I distinctly remember about 25 years ago seeing a prediction by an eminent board of boffins that by 2020 space travel would be a reality and cars would fly. What have we actually got? We have lessons from the government on how to wash our hands. Pfft.

The UK government’s not making a good fist of things either. Boris is lifting restrictions here and there but is not giving businesses the chance to prepare. Nor is he telling the other nations in the UK about his plans. It is a fiasco for those who have to cross the borders for work. Are his advisors poor or is he just not listening to them? Poor fellow, he has a lot on his plate - herself indoors and baby Wilf.

Downing Street is giving out a lot of mixed messages. You can go to work, you can see one relative but they won’t say the science about why they made that decision. Meanwhile, our Nicola is sticking to her guns. “Stay in yer hoose until I tell ye to go oot. Right? You wanna go oot? Ye can go roon’ the corner but I want youse back indoors in five minutes.” She is beginning to sound more like that comedian Janey Godley, who takes the mickey out of her most days on Facebook. Watch Godley’s vids helps pumps out your respiratory system.

Fossils or not, some of us are losing track of the days and weeks. It’s not easy to keep up with the clock, or even the calendar. Just going out and talking to other human beings is a bit of a challenge. In my case, that’s probably because I am not used to hearing anyone else except Mrs X - and actor David Suchet who plays Hercule Poirot, of course. I was in the chemist and asked the assistant: “What is the best thing to get rid of coronavirus?” She politely said: “Ammonia cleaner”. I then replied: “I’m so sorry. I thought you were the pharmacist.”

Depending on who you listen to, social distancing is going to be with us for ages. The new normal is going to be tough. Mrs X takes it every seriously. She reckons two metres is the absolute minimum and we should, in fact, be further apart. She has just come back from her daily walk - her permitted exercise. She was glowing. I stared deep into those blue eyes and my heart leapt. I then saw that familiar soft smile playing upon her lips and I thought to myself: “These are really powerful binoculars.”

Coronavirus in Scotland: Stay At Home Message Remains As Exercise Rules Ease

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stressed the "stay at home" message remains in place in Scotland after Boris Johnson announced his "conditional plan" to reopen society. During his statement, the prime minister urged people to "stay alert, control the virus and save lives". But Ms Sturgeon said there should be a "simpler" message and that people in Scotland should still stay at home. The once-a-day exercise limit will be removed in Scotland from Monday. But Ms Sturgeon said people must still stay close to home and emphasised the move does not extend to picnics, sunbathing or barbeques.  During his address on Sunday evening, Mr Johnson said people in England who could not work from home should return to the workplace - but avoid public transport.  The first minister stressed that the advice to businesses in Scotland had not changed.  "I am not, at this stage, asking anybody who is not working to go back to work, although we have said we are looking, with priority, at the construction sector, the retail sector and the manufacturing sector," she told BBC Scotland. She said different parts of the UK were at different stages of the infection curve, and that the "all-important R number" was higher north of the border.  Ms Sturgeon also said the prime minister should have stressed "more strongly" that most of the changes he referred to in his speech applied to England.  "When he talks about things like border control, he is talking for the whole UK, but really all of us have a duty right now to be as clear as possible and, having watched the prime minister, I think there is still some room for some simpler messages," she said.  Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government was being "deliberately cautious" and was taking "baby steps".  And she added: "If you change the message from stay at home to something vaguer then you don't give clear messages to the public."  We are now getting two quite different messages as a result of the announcement by the prime minister and the response from the first minister. Businesses deciding whether to go back to work in construction or manufacturing are being encouraged to do so south of the border. However, you're being pretty strongly discouraged if it's not essential work north of the border.  That's going to lead to employers having different expectations of their staff depending on where that employer is based.  Employers are looking for answers about how much money will be available and for how long.  The furlough system has been absolutely essential to avoiding redundancies soaring. In Scotland, around 370,000 jobs are estimated to have stayed on the payroll rather than becoming redundant.  So what's going to happen to that once the money stops as it is currently scheduled to do at the end of June?  The first minister had earlier said that she had first learned about the UK Westminster government's new slogan in the Sunday papers and admitted: "I do not know what 'Stay Alert' means."  Ms Sturgeon accepted the need for other parts of the UK to move at different speeds, based on scientific evidence and said she is committed to the closest possible cooperation.  But she added: "We should not be reading of each other's plans for the first time in newspapers and decisions that are taken for one nation only, for good evidence based reasons, should not be presented as if they apply UK-wide.  Clarity of message is paramount if we expect all of you to know what we are asking of you and as leaders we have a duty to deliver that clarity to those that we are accountable to, not to confuse it.  "To that end I have asked the UK Westminister government not to deploy their 'stay alert' advertising campaign in Scotland."  Ms Sturgeon added that the message in Scotland is not "stay at home if you can" but rather "stay at home full stop".  She was speaking after latest figures show the number of deaths has increased by 10 to 1,587, while the number of positive cases is now 13,486.  The first minister said the new guidelines governing exercise in Scotland were not a "licence to meet up in groups" at parks or beaches.  She also emphasised the ongoing need for people to maintain social distancing and not mix with other households. Guidelines concerning the range of outdoor activities, reopening garden centres and the resumption of some outdoor work will also be considered in the coming days.  The Scottish government will also be speaking to councils about the prospect of re-opening waste and recycling centres. The first minister said an update on these developments will be issued next weekend.

Lockdown Lessons of the Great Tapestry of Scotland

Dorie Wilkie was one of the driving forces behind a team that stitched together an artwork which tells the story of a nation.  The Great Tapestry of Scotland's 160 panels stretch to more than 140m (450ft) in length and took more than 65,000 hours - and 300 miles of wool - to complete.  Dorie, from Eskbank, near Dalkeith was one of the core team behind its creation in 2013 and says the lessons learned can be valuable during the current lockdown.  The women led hundreds of stitchers through a "very intense period" which Dorie says honed her skills in diplomacy and ended up producing a "beautiful work".  The creative process also proved to be beneficial in other ways as the team worked together towards a collective goal. "We all found it meditative and soothing and that unconsciously helped us sort things out in our minds," she says.  "When you're stitching, you can be in your own world for however long you want and that may be helpful for others worrying about Covid-19."  It is a sentiment echoed by Susie Finlayson, who now works as a professional embroiderer in Hawick, but learned some of her skills working on the tapestry.  Her husband, a subsea engineer, survived a helicopter crash west of Shetland and she stitched a small helicopter into the panel she worked on at the time.  "It was a horrendous experience," she says.  "Not knowing if he was involved, then not knowing if he was OK.  However, the friendships I'd formed with tapestry stitchers near and far really helped me through, and the process of stitching the tapestry helped me to channel my fears in a therapeutic way."  She says that now, during lockdown, those bonds of friendship remain "stronger than ever".  "Though everyone is in isolation now, it is more important now, more than ever, for people to keep in contact and really strengthen their own communities through building bonds like this," she says.  It was the brainchild of author Alexander McCall Smith and along with historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy they formed the team to produce it.  It took more than two years to complete and the finished work toured Scotland from September 2013.  A new visitor centre being created is hoped to attract 50,000 visitors a year.  The building housing the tapestry is seen as part of wider plans to help regenerate the town of Galashiels  Dorie says she has noticed many ideas similar to the tapestry project surfacing during lockdown to help bring people together.  "These often harness similar creative camaraderie to support positive mental health of individuals in isolation, and the continued vital recording of Scotland's present-day history," she says.  "People will be talking about this time for centuries to come."  Susie is now leading a new group of stitchers to produce welcome panels for a multi-million pound permanent home for the tapestry being built in the Borders.  It had been hoped the public could contribute to the panels but plans have now been amended due to coronavirus - which may even feature in the final designs.  Susie says working on such projects could be an "excellent way" to get through a time of crisis.  She describes stitching as "therapeutic and frustrating in equal measure".  "Being able to pick up a needle and thread, knitting needles and wool, or paper and paints and create something is a process that we can control," she says.  "And it can also be a great way to express some of the frustration and anxiety that may be building up inside.  "It doesn't matter what you make, just the act of creating can be calming."  One stitcher who is particularly looking forward to seeing the tapestry's new permanent home open is Annette Hunter, as it will be in her hometown of Galashiels. "The new attraction will be a great facility for inspiring generations old and new to try something new, and to tell their own stories of Scotland in a creative way," she said. The attraction - to be run by director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes - should open in 2021, an event already eagerly anticipated by the stitchers.  "After a tour to see the work in progress it brought home to me how important the tapestry is," says Dorie. "A national treasure, and a legacy to all the stitchers involved."

RAF Lossiemouth Crews in Temporary Move Back to Fife
An RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) group based in Scotland is to temporarily move from Lossiemouth in Moray to Leuchars in Fife.  QRA crews at Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire intercept unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace.  Recent incidents have included Russian military planes near UK airspace.  The Lossiemouth group's move to Fife later this year is to allow for a major revamp of Moray station's runway.  QRA crews had previously operated from Leuchars until 2014 when the group relocated to Lossiemouth. Leuchars has been an army barracks since 2015.  The Typhoon fighter jet crews are expected to return to Moray before the end of this year.  Typhoon training done at Lossiemouth will temporarily move to nearby Kinloss Barracks.

Keeping Lighthouses Working During the Lockdown
Lighthouses dotted around the UK's coastline play an essential role in ensuring shipping lanes stay open and trade continues.  But the team of engineers and technicians who look after Scotland's lighthouses have had to adapt and adjust to ensure their important work continues during the lockdown.  Mechanical technician Ross Russell works for the Northern Lighthouse Board.  He is part of three-man team of specialists who have just returned from fixing an electrical fault on the Bell Rock lighthouse, 11 miles (18km) east of the Firth of Tay in the North Sea.  He said he was proud to play his part in fixing and maintaining the lighthouses so mariners could remain safe at sea.  The 32-year-old, from Oban, said: "I feel great about the work I'm doing out there because of the importance of keeping our shipping lanes open."  The team has currently stopped doing any routine maintenance and upkeep work, such as painting, and is instead focusing on the essential work required to keep the lights operating. "Our working practices have changed dramatically, said Ross. "It has been difficult working under the social distancing rules."  For the trip to Bell Rock, each member of the team had to drive to Dundee Airport separately before catching a 30-minute helicopter ride to one of the Northern Lighthouse Board's ships anchored out at sea, called the Pharos.  There are two ships that sail to each of the lighthouses carrying water and fuel for workers. The other ship is the Pole Star.  Ross spent the night on the Pharos before being dropped on the Bell Rock with his colleagues.  He said: "We normally mingle with the ship's crew of about 20 but this time we were kept away from them and given our own isolation deck."  The next day they were flown by helicopter wearing PPE kit and screened off from the pilot.  He said: "We can only land when the tide is low as the lighthouse is sea washed and therefore the helipad is only exposed when the reef is exposed. When the tide turns, the water comes to just below the door at entrance level so once you're on, you're on and that's you stuck there until the tide recedes again.  There are two bedrooms with three bunk beds on the Bell Rock but because of the new social distancing rules we had to bring a blow up mattress. One of us slept in the kitchen on that and the other two had a bedroom each.  We also brought all our food and bedding as well."  He said the group had to take it in turns to cook their own food in the narrow circular kitchen inside the lighthouse and they each had a different floor inside the 115ft tower.  He said: "Normally the trips fly by because there is so much banter between us but on this trip there was a serious air about it." The lighthouses are fully automated but run from batteries powered by generators which use fuel.  The team will next make trips to lighthouses on Skerryvore, 12 miles (19km) south-west of the island of Tiree, and Dubh Artach, 18 miles (29 km) west of Colonsay, to refuel them.  Before the lighthouse was built on the Bell Rock there was a bell which would ring out to mariners in the wind.  Lighthouse keepers, who would stay for three months at a time, were no longer needed in the 1990s when they became automated.  Ross said: "There is a note in the Bell Rock lighthouse from the last lighthouse keeper who says 'I'm leaving this rock to it's rightful owners, the seals.'  I was thinking how right he was when I could hear them barking all night there, they have no comprehension of any pandemic either."

Care Home Staff Host 107th Birthday Party
Staff at a Glasgow care home hosted a lockdown birthday party for one Scotland's oldest women - complete with a DJ and a piper.  Ellen Gardner turned 107 on Wednesday but the restrictions did not spoil her celebrations. Son Ronnie and his wife Liz were able to see her open her presents from a safe distance in the garden of Orchard Grove Care Home in Toryglen.  He said: "She seems to be keeping remarkably well and is in good health for her age."  Glasgow's Lord Provost, Councillor Philip Braat, also congratulated the great grandmother.

MP Welcomes Move to Test, Trace, Isolate and Support in Western Isles Isles’
MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed the announcement by NHS Western Isles to start a new long-term approach to addressing COVID-19, known as ‘Test, Trace, Isolate, and Support’. Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed the change in strategy and believes that widespread testing is the way to determine if the Islands are Covid-19 free. The principals of the programme are: Test people in the community who have symptoms for 48 to 72 hours consistent of COVID-19, to identify cases of infection.  Contact trace to identify close contacts of the case who may have had the disease transmitted to them.  Isolate cases for seven days and contacts for 14 days, so that if they do develop the disease, there is less risk that they will pass it on to others.  Support these people to remain in self-isolation, which may happen more than once if they have contact with another person who becomes a case.  In making the announcement NHS Western Isles Director of Public Health, Dr Maggie Watts, explained: “It is inevitable that lockdown will come to an end at some point in the future and in the Western Isles, we need to ensure we are well placed to manage the impact of such release.  This is where the new approach of Test, Trace, Isolate, and Support comes in, as our method to combat COVID-19.  The Test, Trace, Isolate, and Support approach will be most effective when levels of infection are low and stay low, as is currently the case in the Western Isles.  The success of this approach relies on all of us knowing and agreeing what to do if we have symptoms, and being prepared to self-isolate when advised to do so.”

Concerns Raised Over ‘Non-essential’ Trips by Islanders to and From the Mainland

Concerns that some islanders may be breaking coronavirus travel restrictions and booking ferries for non-essential mainland shopping trips, have been raised by Cal Mac.  Speaking in response to a query about travellers attempting to reach the islands for non-essential purposes, a Cal Mac spokesperson said that the ferry operator was also having to deal with cases where staff suspected that some islanders - no specific routes were identifed - were taking non-essential trips to the mainland, and said that there was “not a lot” that ferry staff could do to stop the trips, if passengers insisted that their journey was of an ‘essential’ nature. A Calmac spokesperson said: “People need to take personal responsibility, and it should not be left up to staff.”  The issue of restrictions on travel to the islands had also surfaced earlier in the week following publication of Loch Roag, on the Isle of Lewis, as part of an article on the impact of the pandemic on tourism following the easing of lock-down rules in England. A photo caption for the piece suggested that people would be able to travel to the Outer Hebrides ‘from Wednesday’, but today (Tuesday) the paper acknowledged the error and said in its corrections and clarifications column that unlike England, Scotland has not lifted restrictions on ‘such non-essential travel’.  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar had meantime issued a statement on social media urging people to obey Scottish lock-down laws and not to try and travel “to beauty spots in the islands”.  In its statement, a Comhairle spokesperson said: “We would remind everyone that in Scotland it is not permissible to drive to beauty spots. There are also restrictions on travelling to the Islands and we must see these maintained for the continued health of our population.”  Cal Mac’s Group Director of Communications, Stuart Wilson, also responded to the national newspaper’s article, tweeting: “For the avoidance of doubt, anybody trying to get to the Outer Hebrides from Wednesday onwards who is not an islander or undertaking essential work will need to have an amphibious car!”  He continued: “I have issued a few letters of authorisation for workers working on critical infrastructure, which those turning up [at ferry terminals] who have to travel here can present to Cal Mac and they can satisfy themselves that that is necessary, and really it is essential travel only. Cal Mac’s spokesperson said: “CalMac is implementing strict controls as implemented by the Scottish Government. We are actively turning people away who are not able to produce the evidence required of island residency or key worker status, and we have posters around our entire network making it clear under what circumstances you can travel. However, it is important to note that we do not have police or civic powers.  If even stricter measures are required then this is a matter of Government policy and would require a political solution. We all have a part to play in this because the existing guidelines are clear.”

FM 'Not Ruling Out' Easing Rural Lockdown First
Scottish ministers are "not ruling out" easing lockdown in some areas ahead of others, Nicola Sturgeon has said.  Some parts of Scotland are less badly affected by coronavirus, with few cases currently in hospitals in Orkney, Shetland or Dumfries and Galloway.  The first minister said she had "never ruled out" taking a "regionally varied approach" across Scotland. But she stressed that the government was not proposing that approach "at this stage" .  And she said if it was to happen, it would need to be done in a "practical and clearly understandable way".  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently have stricter restrictions in place than England, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to begin slightly easing the lockdown there this week.  The virus appears to have hit the central belt of Scotland and its larger cities harder than more rural areas.  Data from the National Records of Scotland has suggested the highest rates of death linked to the virus were recorded in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lothian health board areas, while none have been reported in the Western Isles.  The latest Scottish government figures said there were fewer than five cases in hospitals in each of Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and Dumfries and Galloway, and only five in the Highland region.  This has led to suggestions that the lockdown restrictions could start to be eased there before harder-hit parts of the country.  The Scottish government's paper of options for exiting lockdown said ministers had an "open mind" about "geographical variation within Scotland".  Ms Sturgeon said this was not the government's current plan, but that it could be pursued if it was backed up by scientific evidence. She said: "I've never ruled out regional variations if both the evidence backs up that kind of approach and we judge they can be implemented in a practical and clearly understandable way.  We don't rule that out, but we are not at this stage proposing that kind of regionally varied approach in Scotland. We still have a [virus reproduction rate] and incidence of the virus that are still too high for us to meaningfully at this stage ease up on lockdown.  That is something obviously which is under ongoing monitoring. We will monitor that on a Scotland-wide basis, but if the evidence leads us to think things could be done on a regional basis, we've never ruled that out."  Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith warned that it was harder to be confident about figures for virus reproduction rate over smaller geographic areas, saying localised figures should be "treated with caution".

Selkirk Waterworks Revamp Given Go-ahead Despite Battlefield Location

Plans for an upgrade to a water treatment plant on the outskirts of Selkirk have been given the go-ahead despite its proximity to one of the most famous battlegrounds in the history of the Borders.  An application submitted by Scottish Water in September for the erection of a new membrane building almost 8m high and five 3m-high borehole buildings at its Howden Wells water treatment works, near Howden Farm, has been approved.  One of the organisations consulted by Scottish Borders Council planning officers considering the application was Historic Environment Scotland (HES) as the site is within the boundaries of a 17th century battlefield south-west of the town.  The battle of Philiphaugh – fought on September 13, 1645 – ended the royalist campaign started the year before by James Graham, the first Marquess of Montrose, and it was the only defeat he suffered during it.  The battle, part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms waged from 1639 to 1651, left his army so depleted after their defeat by Covenanter forces led by David Leslie, the first Lord Newark, that it marked the end of any organised royalist ambitions in Scotland.  Despite the location of the site, Historic Environment Scotland decided to raise no objections to the water board’s plans because it is satisfied any physical impact on the battlefield will be limited.  Tom Gardner, case officer for the organisation, said: “The proposed works would see construction of industrial buildings in the centre of the battlefield boundary, to the immediate south-west of the main battle lines and along the lines of the royalist army’s rout, both to the south-west towards Howden and to the west towards Harehead Wood.  As the proposed development is limited in its total footprint, the potential physical impact upon the battlefield or any archaeological remains associated with the battlefield is very limited.  Equally, as the proposed works would add to the pre-existing water treatment facility, they would be in keeping with the established use of the area and would make a limited impact upon the setting of the battlefield in this area.”

Ancient Tap O' Noth Hillfort in Aberdeenshire One of 'Largest Ever'

A hillfort in Aberdeenshire is one of the largest ancient settlements ever discovered in Scotland, researchers have said.  University of Aberdeen archaeologists say 4,000 people may have lived in more than 800 huts perched high on the Tap O' Noth near Rhynie. Many had thought it dated from the Bronze or Iron Age. The team said carbon dating suggested it was likely to be Pictish, dating back as far as the third century AD.  They believe at its height it may have rivalled the largest known post-Roman settlements in Europe.  Archaeologists from the university have conducted extensive fieldwork in the surrounding area since 2011. Prof Gordon Noble, who led the research, described the discovery that activity at the site extended into the Pictish period as the most surprising of his career. "I was absolutely stunned when I read the results," he said.  "We took samples from the site really just to begin placing the important discoveries we have made at Rhynie over the last few years in a broader geographical context. The results of the dating were simply incredible.  The Tap O' Noth discovery shakes the narrative of this whole time period. If each of the huts we identified had four or five people living in them then that means there was a population of upwards of 4,000 people living on the hill.  It is truly mind-blowing and demonstrates just how much we still have to learn about settlement around the time that the early kingdoms of Pictland were being consolidated."

Legal Bid to Remove Owners of Infection-hit Skye Care Home
The Care Inspectorate has taken legal action over the running of a private care home on Skye where seven residents have died in a coronavirus outbreak.  The inspectorate has asked the Sheriff Court to cancel the registration of the HC-One-owned Home Farm facility in Portree. It follows an unannounced inspection of the home on Tuesday. The Care Inspectorate said the visit raised "serious and significant concerns" about the quality of care.  So far, 30 of the home's 34 resident have tested positive for Covid-19, as well as 29 staff.  NHS Highland is already said by local MSP Kate Forbes to be effectively running the home, with additional NHS management, nursing and direct care resources being put in place with the aim of "improving and sustaining the appropriate quality of care".  The move by the Care Inspectorate could end HC-One's role as the care provider at the home, with the NHS taking over completely.  It could also potentially result in the home being closed and residents moving to alternative accommodation.  A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate said its priority was always the health and wellbeing of residents, and acknowledged that the situation was "difficult and distressing" for residents, their families and staff.  HC-One said it was disappointed the Care Inspectorate had taken the action, adding that it was working with NHS Highland to implement a "robust action plan".  The company, which operates 56 homes in Scotland, has previously said it did not know the source of the infection, and insisted it was doing everything it could to keep residents and staff safe, including "seconding a number of Scottish workers" to help.  The outbreak at the care home, which was detected at the end of April, was the first time the virus had been confirmed on Skye.  An Army-run mobile testing unit was set up on the island following the outbreak.  The majority of coronavirus deaths in Scotland are currently happening in care homes.

'News From Beijing Gives Family in Scotland Hope'

With coronavirus restrictions gradually easing in Beijing, Chloe Sandilands has found new appreciation for one of life's greatest bugbears.  "We have traffic jams again - I didn't think I would ever miss that," she said.  Since September, the 22-year-old has been living and teaching English in the Chinese capital - nearly 5,000 miles away from her home in Rosyth, Fife. The city of 21.5 million people swiftly became a "ghost town" when lockdown was introduced around February, but Chloe says more and more people are returning to the streets. Social distancing measures are still in place, though people have been seen grouped together on public transport.  "More and more people feel comfortable going outside," said Chloe. "Some still isolate totally but you can see such a big rise in the amount of people. We still wear masks. Delivery drivers can come to the front door now instead of leaving things at the front of the apartment complex and places are starting to lift the two people per table rule.  My apartment complex doesn't have a curfew, though I know some do. I believe they're being lifted slowly."  While many expats chose to return to the UK from China at the start of the year, Chloe chose to stay put and continue to forge a life there.  She admits at times she misses her mother, her dog and Irn-Bru, but manages to stay in touch with family through weekly calls and WhatsApp.  And she is able to pass on news of progress in China which has become a source of hope for her loved ones.  "Sometimes I just want to go home and be with my family," she said. "I love this city though, it's my home. I love my friends, my students, my life here.  My mum was an essential worker, which is cause for concern, but she is staying safe. My gran was advised not to leave her house for 12 weeks - this is a lonely time for the elderly and unfortunately I can't do more than call to keep her company.  They draw hope from the fact that things are improving here. They feel that as an end is in the horizon here, hopefully the same will come for Scotland."  Beijing authorities continue to use temperature checks on entry to places like subways and restaurants, though there has been debate over their efficacy in detecting coronavirus.  While some social elements of life feel close to normal, Chloe still cannot teach in a classroom, and instead communicates with her students through an online portal from her flat.  But even after months of uncertainty, she says she and flatmates "never feel in the dark".  She said: "We understand that no-one is sure when things will go back to normal. I understand this may come as a frustration to people -waiting with no answers or potential end in sight is hard- but I believe authorities are doing all they can and that I should be patient.  I believe that if there aren't new cases for some time, we can go back to school, until then we will continue to work online. With regards to the city as a whole, my flatmates and I are just taking it a day at a time."

Fears for Historic Fishing Harbour After Fife Coast Erodes 3m in Just One Year

The remnants of what was once Scotland’s second largest fishing harbour are in danger of being washed away as a result of coastal erosion.  A community group has warned voracious tides have taken large chunks out of Buckhaven’s shingle beach and are now only a metre away from the car park and picnic tables.  Members of Clear Buckhaven said three metres of land had been lost in the last year and expressed fears thousands of pounds of improvements at the town’s foreshore were now under serious threat.  These include new paths, benches, picnic tables, extensive planting of trees and flowers and interpretation panels.  The group believes the area, with views across the Forth, has the potential to be an asset but chairman Bob Taylor said coastal erosion happening in gaps between existing sea armour are concerning.

First Minister’s Daily Briefing On Covid-19

Friday's key points
1.A further 46 people in Scotland have died after testing positive for the virus, bringing the     total by that measure to 2,053

2.    The death toll in the UK rose in the past 24 hours by 384 to 33,998

3.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says further changes to lockdown will not take place this weekend and will be "careful and gradual" when they are considered

4.  Ms Sturgeon says she will share her thinking on the changes to lockdown next week

5. The first minister shared polling that reveals "widespread endorsement for the approach we are taking in Scotland"

6.   The infection rate in the UK has gone up - thought to be driven by the virus spreading in care homes and hospitals - and is close to the point where it starts spreading rapidly, says UK government scientific advice

7.   A ninth resident has died at a Skye care home at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak

8.   New official guidance says infected care home staff should carry on working if not doing so would create an "unacceptable risk"

9.  Teachers unions in Scotland are urging caution over the re-opening of schools

10.  Unison say some care workers hiding symptoms of Covid-19 because they cannot afford not to go to work.  Health Secretary Jeane Freeman says care home providers have a responsibility to provide proper terms and conditions for their staff