IT has been fascinating watching the coverage of the Scottish Government's Covid-19 latest restrictions on us all and the outcry from the licensed trade in particular ("Backlash against Sturgeon over ‘cataclysmic’ shutdown", The Herald, October 8). What is absolutely clear is that there is the potential for the successful reduction of Covid-19 harms to go pear-shaped after months of us all successfully enduring varying levels of inconvenience to keep us safe and alive. The latest curbs on hospitality especially where alcohol consumption is concerned, has some people screaming blue murder and accusing Nicola Sturgeon of being anti-alcohol, with her pioneering unit pricing of alcohol strategy and now the imposition of opening and closing of pubs and restaurants selling alcohol. But I think she is wiser than many of us realise.

It is argued that this is driving people into their homes to consume alcohol without restrictions, when they could have been safely and comfortably in the caring arms of the alcohol trade, who claim that pubs are a safer environment than home drinking. A place where the licensee can keep us under control and safe from Covid-19infection?

Well we should never forget that alcohol is a powerful drug, albeit a legally available drug, that has caused more damage to individuals and families in Scotland than any other drug, now that smoking is almost off the scene. The nature of alcohol is that it disinhibits us, it can relax us and allow us to come out of ourselves, be a wee but more friendly or affectionate, a better karaoke singer or joke teller. But it also disinhibits our darker side, allowing us to break the rules of the road, letting our anger or emotions get out of hand, in domestic or sexual abuse and other terrible behaviours. Whether we are in the pub environment or with friends at home any loosening of our vigilance in sticking to the latest Covid safety rules is never going to be enhanced with alcohol consumption. Once Covid has gone we will have plenty time to return to Scotland's favourite drug: alcohol.

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow G12.

IT is entirely understandable that the proprietors of hospitality venues should feel unfairly blamed for virus spread. The statistic from Test and Protect that a quarter of people testing positive had been in such a venue previously, is maybe too small to seem significant, at first glance. However, this fails to take into account two critical and consistent features of the way the virus spreads, as seen all round the world. The first is the finding that "super-spreaders" are involved and the second is the role of indoor, poorly ventilated and noisy environments.

People are now hearing about the R-factor, which measures the average transmission of infection over a large population. This factor might be misleading if it is taken to mean that that transmissions of the virus from one to others is always occurring at around the R-value. For example, if R is 3, every infected person might be expected to pass it on to three others. That's not how this virus works. The evidence is that the majority of people will not pass it on at all, while a very few, the super-spreaders, will pass it on to large numbers of others, in one step. Identifying super-spreaders via Test and Protect might be difficult as you have to go backwards in tracing rather than forwards. The signature of super-spreaders is that these infections usually occur in clusters.

On the question of environments, a major way in which super-spreading occurs worldwide is by airborne transmission over a period spent in crowded, indoor, noisy spaces which have minimal air changes. These conditions can apply to nightclubs, pubs, restaurants and choirs, for example. Yes, they're observing all the guidance on social distancing, sanitising and so on, but these rules unfortunately are not always enough to keep the airborne virus out of the breathing zones of patrons. Serving staff, who are obliged to wear face coverings at all times, may be in a safer position. Of course, these very same conditions can also apply to household social gatherings.

It is good that the Scottish Government has published some figures on where transmission may be occurring and it needs to do more of that, so that the rest of us know what is going on and what to avoid doing. At the moment there seems to be too much sensitivity to the release of information, to avoid finger-pointing. But such knowledge could do more to improve Covid-19 control than any number of "rules".

As stated in a recent publication, "countries that have ignored super-spreading have risked getting the worse of both worlds: burdensome restrictions that fail to achieve substantial mitigation".

Thomas GF Gray, Lenzie.

FOR the first time in my 74 years I feel so incensed that I have to voice my view. There is a certain percentage of the population who will flaunt any restrictions or laws that are brought into place and because of this the rest of us are being penalised. I and the majority of the population are capable of doing our own risk assessment, particularly those of the older generation. I feel as if I am living in a cross between a dictatorship and a police state. Covid-19 is going to be with us for a long time and we have to live, not just exist.

Margaret Weir, Lanark.

YET another fudge by the SNP. Stop selling alcohol at 6pm but sell carry-outs, but where will you drink them? No glass of wine with your meal at the hotel but you can have a bottle in your room? Surely if the effects of alcohol is the problem, which it probably is, then the answer is to close all points of sale for two weeks with an immediate ban on the amount bought?

James Watson, Dunbar.

IT’S good to know that our Scottish Government have gone back to “listening to the science” as it prepares to dish out the next dose of lockdown medicine – whether we need it or not. It’s just a pity that the same politicians stopped listening when they were repeatedly told and warned by the same scientists that filling the university halls of residence with thousands of highs-pirited youngsters was a complete recipe for disaster. Similarly, that this would almost inevitably create a spike in coronavirus cases and kick-start a second wave. Instead of trying to divert the blame for this wholly predictable catastrophe onto the hospitality industry, would it not be more appropriate for our politicians to now, for once, take responsibility for their irresponsible actions and resign?

DH Telford, Fairlie.

THE people of Bearsden are revolting. The first three letters today (October 8), from Jim Greenhalgh, Jim Martin and Stewart Rennie: all complaining that they've had enough of the Scottish Government's efforts to protect the people of Scotland from Covid19, and all from Bearsden. What is it about Bearsden, are they all immune from the virus? Do they have access to Donald Trump's magical cure? If so will they let the rest of us in on it?

John Jamieson, Ayr.

AS of October 7, 2020, the UK with its multiple lockdown strategy, had a recorded Covid-19 death rate of 637 per million and a wrecked economy.

On the same date, Sweden, which had no lockdown strategy, had a recorded death rate of 577 per million and a functioning economy (figures from Statista).

Now, given that a difference of 60 deaths per million (0.006 per cent) between the UK and Sweden is statistically negligible, there is effectively no difference for epidemiological purposes between having a lockdown and not having a lockdown.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of the effect on the economy.

Brian D Finch, Glasgow G20.

Read more: Letters: OK, enough is enough. This approach has failed