ONLY in the La-La Land of Scottish nationalism can there be a five-tier alert system whose top tier is four ("Sturgeon reveals five tiers but ‘grounds for optimism’", The Herald October 24). We here enter the intellectually befuddled world of the spoof rock group, Spinal Tap, whose amplifiers were so powerful they went all the way up to 11. Only in this case it’s the opposite, as the intention would seem to be to soft-pedal the appearance of the constraints being imposed.

By any logically rigorous analysis this is actually a six-tier system, since "tier zero" is more onerous than no constraints at all – the true zero; and "tier four" is characterised by fewer constraints than full Lockdown, as implemented in March this year (the real tier six) which will inevitably remain as a shot in the SNP’s locker if things should turn out worse than anticipated and than indeed we all hope for.

But then this Scottish alert regime is different from that in place in any other part of the United Kingdom – which was presumably a major objective and specification of the brief put by the Scottish Government to those who designed it.

It will be interesting to see in due course what unit of population the Scottish Government uses to discriminate between those geographical areas under different alert tiers. Will this be local government council areas, health trust areas, or lines drawn on a map to follow the contours of the virus cases? Nothing seems to have been made public so far on this – inevitably a very sensitive issue when the alert system is implemented. We should watch this space.

It is also worth noting that the Scottish Government is introducing a compensation arrangement for businesses required to close under the alert levels, for which it has pre-warned it has only provided a limited budget – and that any shortfall in this funding will be the fault of the UK government for not extending to it unlimited borrowing powers.

Nothing like a good emotive pandemic crisis to offer another opportunity to lean on the nationalist crowbar at the Border.

Chris Thirkettle, Edinburgh EH10.

THERE is a growing number of voices, particularly amongst the scientific community, suggesting that a joint four-nation approach of the countries would be the preferred route of travel in tackling the pandemic. On the face of it this sounds quite reasonable, but as I see it there is one fundamental flaw.

The idea which is being advanced by scientists is that the four nations would sit down together and come up with a plan which would be arrived at after due consultation and negotiation. It is here that the idea collapses. The four nations are not at the table on an equal basis. One of those nations, England as represented by the Tory Government, holds both the numerical advantage and the purse strings. It already has form particularly in the north of the country, of advancing the notion of negotiation when in fact what it is doing is to use the screen of democracy as a means of imposing its will. We must always remember that the chief advisor to Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, Dominic Cumming, cares not a jot about democracy, only about achieving his aims.

In a four-nation approach therefore there would be a plan put forward which in essence would be telling three of the nations what the fourth and biggest has decided. This would mean in Scotland that the First Minister would no longer carry the responsibility and accountability for addressing the fight against the pandemic.

I appreciate, particularly in the hospitality industry there are problems in Scotland. But are we saying that we would really want Mr Johnson to set the agenda. You only have to look at the polls in England on his handling of the virus to realise that any misgivings we may have in Scotland are magnified 10-fold down south.

If I thought for a moment that a four-nation approach was what the name suggests was possible I might consider it. However, in reality what a four-nation approach would be is one nation setting the rules for the other three.

George Kay, Burntisland.

YOUR front page lead article on Friday ("Hospitality industry to fight Covid closures in the courts", The Herald, October 23) contains a paragraph, that, if correct, means the First Minister should forthwith resign as it clear that she has become unfit to hold office.

Legal challenges do not undermine public health: they serve to test whether decisions by her and her Government or by local authorities made under legislation are lawful. To exclude or discourage recourse to the courts is to undermine the rule of law. The rule of law is fundamental to democracy.

To state that legal challenges “makes future flexibilities less likely to be granted” is the threat of a dictator and many have come to the view that the actions of her Government since 2014 demonstrate that it is, in effect, totalitarian. She has forgotten that the devolved Scottish Parliament was meant to operate by consensus. She should now go without delay.

James Mitchell, Glasgow G41.

THE village I live in used to have a pub, a hotel, a British Legion club. Like many other villages we have lost our amenities through industrial decline (pit closures) and changes in social habits. Governments all over Europe have closed down the licensed hospitality industry as the dangers of enclosed spaces combined with an alcohol-induced loss of inhibition, lead to increased risk of catching/spreading a deadly virus.

The hospitality industry is to take the Scottish Government to court to attempt to re-open their facilities in one way or another ("Hospitality industry to fight Covid closures in the courts", The Herald, October 23). While I have great sympathy for their plight, I cannot help but wonder: if they win their case, do they then become liable in law for any subsequent health issue their customers suffer, after opening against the specific advice of health authorities?

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

GIVEN that the second outbreak of Covid-19 was entirely predictable as soon as schools and universities went back after the summer, I make another prediction.

Christmas could bring a huge spike in cases, particularly with students returning to their homes. And why wouldn’t or shouldn’t they? Most have had a miserable time, unable to experiences the usual student life, instead finding themselves isolated in their accommodation, often without adequate quality food, being taught online.

They will stream homewards as soon as term finishes, home to Mum’s cooking and comfort, taking Covid 19 with them an "extra Christmas gift".

But this need not happen. The Scottish Government should make preparations now by arranging that every student gets a coronavirus test in time for them to go home safely. The test and trace system has come in for a lot of criticism, here is a chance to use it to its full capacity and prevent another spike in cases. Before it happens this time.

Celia Judge, Ayr

IS it not time for the First Minister to substitute “We” for “I”? She is beginning to sound like a megalomaniac dictator reminiscent of the latter days of Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister – and we all know what happened to her.

Isobel Hunter, Lenzie.

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