I THINK William Loneskie (Letters, July 7) forgets the purpose of masks – to prevent the spread of Covid. Is this objective more or less important than avoiding “mask mouth” whose “symptoms include dry mouth ... halitosis or bad breath ... gingivitis, or bleeding of the gums”?

However, Mr Loneskie is very much not alone in this shortcoming, as your report that there are fears that soaring case numbers could hamper the return to overseas travel ("Countries could restrict travel to stop importation of Delta variant, warns Tory", The Herald, July 7). Is the logic of this really so difficult? Last year foreign travel was allowed during the summer, so folk went off on their annual pilgrimage to the Costa del Virus and, along with the sombrero and the duty free, lots of them came back with the Spanish variant of Covid which, till the Kent variant reared its ugly head, was responsible for about 70 per cent of cases in Scotland between summer and November.

Even worse though is government attitude. My own response to “Freedom Day” in England and our own possibility of moving to level zero later this month and dismantling all restrictions (our “Freedom Day") at a time when case numbers are soaring, is “you must be joking”.

Once a person is infected, the Covid-19 virus replicates tens of thousands of times within our cells. That process is imperfect, so occasionally mutations crop up. From time to time – as alpha, beta, gamma and delta testify – a mutation can be dangerous. By releasing all restrictions, a situation is being created that makes possible maximum transmission and thus the maximum possibility of further mutations and the possibility that one of these will undermine the vaccines administered so far in a fundamental way, and of course, at that point, instead of getting to the end of this, we are back at the beginning.

To be clear, government policy in the UK is utterly reckless. For the sake of a few weeks, because it has become politically unacceptable to wait for the vaccination programme to be completed, we are taking this terrible risk, of which wearing or not wearing masks is an insignificant detail.

Mr Loneskie concludes by asking “if not now, when?”. Perhaps when the vaccination programme is completed?

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


WHILST agreeing with much of what Neil Mackay writes re the global response to the climate crisis ("We have to face up to the awful truth of climate change", The Herald, July 6), I must challenge his view that the Scottish Government has handled the Covid crisis as badly as the UK. The Scottish Government does not have sovereign control of its borders. Border control lies with Priti Patel at the Home Office, not Nicola Sturgeon.

The Kent and Delta variants seeded in Scotland due to the combined lack of Scottish sovereign power and UK inaction. Had the UK acted quicker to close entry from India, the Delta variant would not be the problem it now is.

Had Scotland been an independent state at the start of the pandemic we would most likely have done what other small independent countries like Norway did and heeded the WHO when it declared the pandemic on March 12, 2020. Norway, which at that point had several hundred cases whilst Scotland had only a few dozen, closed all ports on March 13 and implemented very strong entry controls. Scotland, a non-sovereign territory, was obliged to suffer planeloads of passengers arriving daily at Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow from Covid hotspots in the following weeks, including from English airports.

Despite this, after the First Minister departed from the four nations approach, we had great success last summer in almost eradicating the virus. Infections and deaths fell far below those in England, the result being, ironically, that we acquired less natural herd immunity than England, where the virus was more widespread. This is why the Delta variant is now raging more strongly in Scotland, yet would not have occurred had we control of our borders. One more reason why Scotland needs to be a sovereign state if we are to thrive in future.

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh.


WE are seeing the Delta variant take hold in Scotland and is now the dominant strain here, but let's not forget how we got in this position. India had a well-documented and terrifying surge in cases, hospitalisations and deaths, but the Tories sat on their hands and refused to put India on the red list for weeks and weeks.

Even when the announcement was made that India would be put on the list, Boris Johnson left it another few days before putting it on the red list. This all meant the variant had ample opportunity to travel to the UK and make its way to Scotland due to the UK's dreadful quarantine rules which had more holes in it than a sieve.

If another dangerous variant was to emerge, I have no confidence in the Tories' ability to react accordingly.

Stephen Sime, Stirling.

• PEOPLE should leave Humza Yousaf alone. Who cares if he went to a place where people are treated like children by the Ministry of Magic, under the leadership of a stern female leader, who complains about non-magic Muggles. Anyway, how was his trip to Hogwarts? David Bone, Girvan.


AS we appear to be significantly reducing Covid restrictions, it is worth reflecting on the performance of both Westminster and Holyrood.

In Scotland, Boris Johnson is generally made out to be a buffoon and Nicola Sturgeon a great leader. However, the facts are that Scotland has generally followed England, albeit two or three weeks behind, and now finds itself with some of the worst infection rates in Europe. Why the time lag, was it to see if Mr Johnson blundered or simply just to be a wee bit different and give a public demonstration of not doing the same as our neighbours?

However, the latest announcement by Kate Forbes that we will most likely open up with similar conditions as England but will continue to wear masks has no logic. Fifty thousand people will be able to sit shoulder to shoulder at football, consume alcohol and shout and sing, but we must wear a mask for a gentle stroll round Tesco.

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.


HAVING sought an explanation as to why Dennis Forbes Grattan’s assertion (Letters, July 1) that “Scotland could not possibly survive without the wider spread resources of the UK” we are now offered an answer by R Murray (Letters, July 7) as to what is meant by "wider resources". It is claimed that the Bank of England has printed, and will continue to print, unlimited amounts of new money which can be used to pay all of the costs which have been incurred as a result of the Covid pandemic. Apparently, had there been a Scottish central bank it would simply not have been allowed to engage in the magic of quantitative easing (QE) without the Scottish currency being devalued.

No explanation is offered as to why only the Bank of England can issue new money without the necessary reserves. The pound has dropped around 34 per cent of its value against the euro over the past 20 years and the current round of QE will probably take it below parity. So, if printing extra notes is the best resource which rUK has to bring to the table, I think I would rather take my chances with Scottish exports financing our future needs.

Chris Keegan, Glasgow.


HOME Secretary Priti Patel has presented a bill to Parliament to allow tougher sentences to stop cross-Channel migrants and people smugglers ("Patel unveils border law to force migrant boats out of UK waters", The Herald, July 7). Up pops the SNP shadow home secretary Stuart McDonald, claiming "vulnerable people and refugees seeking safety will now be treated as criminals, cruelly turned back, and even sent to offshore detention facilities".

The majority in the UK know that these migrants are mostly young males who are economic migrants. Mr McDonald should explain why these "vulnerable" migrants did not claim safe haven in the first European country they entered. Instead they crossed numerous borders in Europe to France before crossing the Channel to get to the UK, the land flowing with milk, honey, welfare benefits and housing.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


WE do indeed live in a strange world. Morrisons, which employs 120,000 people, has a board willing to sell them, and other assets, to a private equity group, a breed of capitalists known for asset stripping and disregard of workers’ rights, without regard to their long-term interests, or the national interest ("Investors anticipate bidding war for Morrisons", The Herald, July 6), yet the only objectors are to be found among those normally tagged as "right-wing".

Where is the Labour Party, which was born to protect working people from the worst practices of a capitalist system? And where is the SNP, which proclaims its concern for human rights? Silent. Shame on both.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.

Read more: Why Scotland should follow England's lead