IN the blue corner we have Scotland requiring all inbound international passengers to quarantine at an airport hotel. In the red corner England, where only those arriving from the red list countries need do the same. At present both systems are flawed. What we need is to develop and agree a national policy. Instead we are swinging political punches in a blame game with no winners ("Sturgeon threatens to shut border over loophole row", The Herald, February 16).

Air passenger numbers are low. It is illegal to go on holiday. Anyone flying requires a negative test before travelling. Everyone has to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival. Scotland's current well-intentioned policy has backfired due to a loophole which actively encourages travellers to arrive via England instead.

Take, for example one of the first flights to land at Edinburgh Airport from Istanbul; only five out of the original 60 passengers boarded. Putting it another way, 92 per cent had chosen to divert their journey to save a hefty quarantine bill and consequently have a much longer journey home to self-isolation. This not a good health policy for the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon should put political stubbornness to the side and public health first by aligning with the current UK policy and then lobbying for the outright travel ban the UK needs.

Paul Morrison, Glasgow.

* IT is a pity that some politicians appear unable to resist playing politics with the Covid pandemic. It would be so much better if the Prime Minister stopped promising (but not always delivering) “world-beating” solutions; we need to beat the virus, not the world. Now Scottish ministers seem eager to turn a technical disagreement over international quarantine into another Anglo-Scottish spat, conveniently forgetting that Ireland presents exactly the same loophole as England to the Scottish Government’s plan.

Any truly effective international quarantine regime must involve the entire Common Travel Area and so requires Westminster, the three devolved administrations and Dublin to agree.

Andrew J Gordon, Bearsden.


THE research published by the University of Stirling which attempts to promote the view that the hospitality industry in Scotland is unable or unwilling to ensure that it complies with the oft-revised regulations and guidance published by the Government to ensure premises are as safe as possible for customers and staff during the pandemic is, quite frankly an insult to the owners and staff of the near-11,500 licensed venues in Scotland ("Fury as study questions way pubs have handled virus", The Herald, February 16).

I have been involved in the licensed trade for more than 25 years and know many hard-working and responsible people who are fighting to save their livelihoods and in venues all over Scotland have done everything, and more, that has been asked of them to make premises Covid-compliant, often at large financial cost.

These same people also run these venues strictly in compliance with all guidelines. So instead of asking an academic's opinion based on visits to 29 venues, why not involve local licensing boards and their licensing standards officers, or even involve the relevant trade groups?

By all means act swiftly against any business deemed to be trading irresponsibly, but don't condemn an industry which generates £10 billion of revenue based on an outdated and poorly researched report.

Billy Gold, Hielan Jessie bar, Glasgow.


WE are constantly informed of Covid statistics and how well, or otherwise, Scotland is performing during the pandemic. The mainstream media blatantly rubbishes the Scottish Government’s performance and covers up England’s performance under the blanket heading of the UK.

The real statistics are easy to find from Worldometer, John Hopkins University, Travellingtabby, ONS and NRS sources.

Deaths (of people tested positive within 28 days) makes grim reading – England (103,544) and Scotland (6,715), both tragic but clearly showing that pro rata Scotland performs better. England has 1,840 deaths per million and Scotland 1,229 deaths per million. England’s raw deaths is the highest in Europe; more than 10,000 more than Italy, and THE fifth highest in the world. Scotland is 15th highest in Europe and 42nd highest in the world.

In the aspect of vaccines the "UK" is clearly performing exceptionally well but why does it appear Scotland is "rubbish" according to the mainstream media? Today’s figures (February 15) show Scotland has the highest seven-day average of vaccinations per 100,000 of all four home nations. In terms of the first dose Scotland has now passed both Northern Ireland and England, with 23 per cent of the population vaccinated.

So move on to quarantine measures. The Scottish Government gets rubbished for adopting strict quarantine measures like Australia and New Zealand. However, the Westminster Government is not rubbished for a limited quarantine programme – for example, travellers from the United States are not on the Red List and yet it is a nation struggling badly to avoid being overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Time for another FOI request to investigate what else is "rubbish" about Scotland.

Gordon Ferrie, Straiton.


MANY will, no doubt, share the relief, if not euphoria, experienced by Foster Evans (Letters, February 16) after having received a first Covid vaccination. This feeling would appear to have kicked in shortly after his jab, or jag.

How long will it be before respective governments have to remind people that two injections are required, that the protection afforded by the injection will not be fully effective until about two weeks later and that the vaccination, while providing a good measure of protection, does not come with a guarantee?

It seems likely that we will have to continue to observe many of the existing precautions even after vaccination targets have been reached.

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.


THE OECD report on the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland is ready in draft form ("SNP urged to release unedited report", The Herald, February 15). However, it appears that the Scottish Government is delaying publication until June, suggesting that this is either because it wants to amend the contents to show Scotland in a better light and/or to avoid the May elections. A government with a record of openness and honesty would surely not do that? However, we have sadly seen that this behaviour is reserved only for things it likes. Meanwhile a search will be on for a very large brush and a carpet.

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.


ON learning that Allan Sutherland (Letters, February 16) equates being “woke” with holding “ideological flat Earth” opinions, I considered it appropriate to look up the meaning of the word.

It apparently describes one who is “alert to social and racial injustice”. I ask what can conceivably be wrong with that. His usage reminds me of those who use the phrase “virtue signalling” to demean the motivation of those who hold different opinions. Mr Sutherland certainly does his case no good.

John Milne, Uddingston.

* DREW Wright (Letters, February 16) wants a country "which is envied across the world". I don't want a country that is envied, I want a country that is respected and I believe that one day it will be.

Rachel Martin, Musselburgh.


I WISH to challenge some of the assertions made by Gordon Watson, CEO of Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, in his letter (February 16) responding to Kevin McKenna’s excellent article (“Why have we hung a large For Sale sign round Loch Lomond?”, The Herald, February 15).

Mr Watson must either have a short-term memory, or use a very different dictionary to the rest of us.

There is nothing discreet about the proposed leadership centre at Ross Priory. In fact, the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland described it as "aggressively brutalistic" in its objection letter. The proposed building sits on quite possibly the most exposed and prominent part of the loch’s southern shoreline.

The flaws in the application are gargantuan. I don’t believe there are any objections to the principle of a leadership centre, all of the objections lie with its environmental impact and the lack of due process. The national park authority is to blame for this.

Why has it been so rushed? A similar proposal at Wards Estate only two miles away, and in a much less prominent position, was subject to a two-year environmental study before any decision was made.

Sir Tom Hunter mentioned that this has been consulted on for "years", yet even the pre-application advice only dates back to late 2018, and it reads more like the Hunter Foundation’s wish list being accommodated by the national park. The plans presented to the community were fait accompli; no wonder the community council objected.

If this proposal is to be sensitive and sustainable, then surely the thing to do would have been to apply an Environmental Impact Assessment. If the national park authority is so confident of its people and work, it should have nothing to fear.

Murray Ure, Dunbartonshire.

Read more: The pro-UK parties must take united action to fight the SNP