THE First Minister today (December 14) outlined her new restrictions for socialising before and after Christmas in a parliamentary chamber where most of the attendees would do us all a favour by working from home as advised.

However, she gives the game away by making the three-household mixing as “advice” not law as it was earlier in the pandemic. We now have the ridiculous scenario where she is asking for a maximum of three households to meet on days before and after December 25 but a bigger gathering on Christmas Day is fine.

She clearly realises that the public would dissent from such a law but she doth protest too much that when coming to these decisions and requests for financial assistance from the UK Government that these are not political. The fact of the matter is she is doing her best again to “front run” the UK Government.

Almost daily she notes how Scotland is the most vaccinated part of the UK, which most certainly would not have been the case had the UK Government followed the advice of the SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford, who was adamant in July 2020 that the UK should follow and work with the European Medicines Agency for vaccination procurement.

She has again, in a single moment, thrown the hospitality industry under her political bus as she has done generally with business in Scotland. At some point, the economic vandalism and damage she causes on a regular basis will dawn on the majority.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.


I HAVE to disagree with Peter A Russell (Letters, November 14) when he writes that Covid has given Nicola Sturgeon “a get out of jail card that allows her to promise nationalists a referendum in full knowledge that it is not going to happen”. I dare say that there is something to be said for his claim that for Boris Johnson the pandemic offers “a distraction from his utterly inept and habitually dishonest ministry”, but even in that case I find the claim overly strong.

Such claims about Ms Sturgeon have been doing the rounds on platforms such as Twitter for a good while now. I am often astonished at the number of skilled psychologists, and psychiatrists even, who have such a detailed insight into the mind of our First Minister.

Covid, though, is a fact, it’s not a distraction, and it certainly is no “get out of jail free card” (perhaps not the best analogy in times like these). It is the major threat to our society for many, many years, and it must be managed. Perhaps the response used during the Second World War to someone complaining their lives were being affected is relevant here – “there’s a war on, you know”.

Moreover, Mr Russell’s analysis of the current situation is sadly wanting. For instance, he suggests “we must start to see scientific advances as a toolkit to lead our lives as normally as possible”, yet one of the still-unanswered questions about Omicron is how well the vaccines developed so far will cope with that changed DNA. And let’s not forget Omicron is only the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, and that its existence owes much to the grossly unequal distribution of vaccines and levels of vaccination across the world. Both Omicron and Delta originated in poorer countries where vaccination is at a lower level. Until we address this, “we are not safe till we are all safe”.

To speak of the pandemic being used by “politicians for their own benefit” not only ignores all the above, but such propositions create the quite different, but greater danger of heightening cynicism, and its corrosive effect not just on our politicians but our political institutions as well.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


I WOULD like to express my sincere condolences to Peter A Russell on the loss of his loved one. Mr Russell writes that he values the protection science gives, but is despondent about what he terms the "seemingly unending restrictions on our freedoms" and blames the politicians for that. However, responsible politicians should be guided by the advice of their clinical advisers, and Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear from the start of the pandemic that she will follow that advice to keep Scotland safe.

I don't feel that there are have been "unending restrictions on my freedom". For months now I've been able to see family and friends, enjoy visits to shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants and travel around the countryside. Wearing masks in public places, keeping my distance and sanitising my hands seems a small price to pay to help prevent me and others from getting what can be a really awful illness, which far too often results in a tragic conclusion.

However, this new variant yet again poses a threat to our way of life. The First Minister has announced a proportionate response to how we should deal with Omicron, including urging us to cut back on our socialising before and after Christmas, and that is only common sense. Crucially, Christmas is not cancelled and we can, carefully and responsibly, spend Christmas Day with those we love. In the bleak midwinter, that will be the best present of all.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.


A NUMBER of letters have appeared in The Herald during the Covid pandemic on the wearing of face masks and the recent one from an asthmatic, Lynda Campbell, adds to the debate (Letters, December 14).

I am personally very concerned to see many young people still not wearing a mask in a supermarket or shop although the majority of the customers do so. As the latest Omicron variant starts to bite I believe a temporary law needs to be enacted to force the wearing in all public places.

I recall that in 1973 motorcyclists were forced by legislation to wear crash helmets although nearly 90% were already wearing one and there was an outcry about civil liberties. A decade later the wearing of a car seat belt also became compulsory and again there was dissent regarding the rights of the individual. In both cases it now seems an obvious precaution to help save your own life.

I am a little surprised that life insurance companies have been fairly silent on the Covid issue. If I were an insurance agent I would make it known that if you have a life insurance policy and you die of Covid I would be checking if you refused vaccinations and never wore a mask.

Some people or their beneficiaries may have to discover that if they do not take reasonable precautions during a pandemic then a court might take the view that such deliberate action constitutes what might be termed self-enhanced vulnerability.

The fact that intensive care beds are now seemingly being occupied increasingly by vaccination refusers does beg some moral questions, but I anticipate that many of those patients will still refuse to believe that their hospitalisation was partly their own fault.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.


TODAY, less than 24 hours after dire warnings about the new Omicron variant, I travelled by bus from the West End to East Kilbride – a journey of about one hour.

During that time, as I sat on the upper deck, six people came up the stairs without face coverings. All were young men in their twenties or thirties. Do the younger generation have no belief in the scientific facts, or is it just total disregard for the health of their fellow citizens?

Harvey Maule (age 82), East Kilbride.

* TO me, it is very simple. Show no respect to Covid and you will have to suffer the consequences. End of story.

Bill Rutherford, Galashiels.


I AGREE with Paul McPherson (Letters, December 13) when he says we need to live with Covid-19. The Government says we need to save lives but there are a hundred other medical conditions that can be fatal, including other transmissible respiratory pathogens, yet we never introduced such draconian restrictions to try to combat them in modern times. Equally, people die from accidents on the roads or in the mountains yet we don't shut these places down.

The restrictions haven't affected my life too much but I am very concerned about the effect they are having on small businesses and our children.

Geoff Moore, Alness.


BORIS Johnson may seek to emulate his hero Churchill (Letters, December 10 & December 14). But, increasingly mistrusted by erstwhile supporters, he resembles more closely another wartime PM, Lloyd George, whose downfall is attributed to the Conservatives’ 1922 Committee.

Will a 2022 Committee strike soon?

John Birkett, St Andrews.

* IN the event that Boris Johnson does tender his resignation, let us hope that the next incumbent has the same taste in wallpaper.

Freddie Dale, Glasgow.

Read more: Sturgeon and Johnson won't abandon their control freakery anytime soon