YOUR correspondent alludes to the failure to track and test those who have been obliged to self-isolate on arrival from abroad (“Confusion over the quarantine rules”, letters, February 12).

Unfortunately, the latest mandatory hotel isolation requirements do not resolve these concerns. Indeed, they beg the question as to whether the new arrangements risk contagion in cramped, airless, air-conditioned environments as opposed to managed self-isolation at a nominated safe address.

The new regulations effectively punish individuals financially and emotionally – £1,700 in exchange for 10-day incarceration – due to the failure of the Government to effectively apply their formal stated policy in relation to tracking and testing, which is central to the success of self-isolation.

One also questions the integrity of this exercise. It is astonishing that the Scottish Government and, it would appear, the vast majority of MSPs, support this risky intervention introduced at such short notice and outsourced to the private sector.

There is little information on who will be “managing” these facilities. There is a clear health risk given that the conditions could possibly lead to an outbreak of Covid. Furthermore, incarceration of this kind is not conducive to care for someone grieving and vulnerable.

This project should be subject to appropriate political scrutiny and proper risk assessment rather than the political breast-beating hubris that has characterised events so far.

It would indicate a commonsense, just and more secure action in the circumstances. Any action would also be consistent with the aims of Government policy which aims to support public health.

There should also be provision for those who need to travel abroad due to compassionate reasons. This omission is particularly disappointing. These individuals are having to cope with the burden of grief in addition to the hardship and uncertainty created by their own government. This needs to be addressed.

One category in particular that has not been addressed are those who travelled abroad prior to the rule changes and remain abroad as a result of critical family illness or bereavement. They now face the callous and wrong-minded threat of incarceration and financial penalty.

Resolution would not involve any more than a few. To insist that nothing is to be done and that vulnerable individuals should drop plans to comfort and console family in the mad rush home before the new rules apply is harsh and callous.

These individuals are not on holiday. Further tweaking or modification of policy would not be inconsistent or weak with regards to intended public health outcomes. The Scottish Government should reconsider its position with regards to compassionate waiver, permission to self isolate at a safe and secure address subject to surveillance, and extended testing in a safe, secure, supportive and non-threatening environment avoiding the risks associated with hotel quarantine lockdown.

Hugh Donnelly, Glasgow.


I WAS interested in Friday’s story, “Indigenous New Zealand legislator wins fight against wearing tie in Parliament”.

About 40 years ago, on a particularly blistering hot summer’s day, I was not wearing a tie in the House of Commons Chamber.

When a Tory MP raised a point of order to complain about my attire, the Speaker, George Thomas, indicated that, although he did not have the power to dictate what members should wear in the Chamber, any member not wearing a tie would fail to catch his eye.

In Westminster-speak, that meant that he would not call any tieless member to speak. I immediately rose to seek clarification: “Does your ruling also apply to the Prime Minister ?”

As the Prime Minister at the time was Margaret Thatcher, Speaker Thomas suddenly realised that his ruling was unsustainable and he quickly moved on to the next business.

Dennis Canavan, Bannockburn.


RUSSELL Leadbetter’s feature (‘Remember when, February 12) on the unveiling of the Peter Pan sculpture at Mearnskirk Children’s Hospital is very timely.

Alf Ellsworth, the Bridgeton confectioner best remembered for his line of MB chocolate cream bars, raised the funds for the sculpture. Amongst the dignitaries in attendance for the unveiling at Mearnskirk in1949, was Sir Harry Lauder, a close friend of Alf’s.

However, the story of the sculpture does not end there. Following the closure of Mearnskirk Hospital in the 1990s, the sculpture was placed in storage and the land sold to property developers.

When Mearnskirk House Care Home was opened in 1998, the sculpture was relocated to its forecourt. Unfortunately missing were the four bronze engraved storyline panels, which had mysteriously disappeared in the interim.

In 2006 one of the missing panels was found in a garage and, on the 58th anniversary of the original unveiling, it was installed on the wall of Hazeldene Family Centre, originally the Administration Building of Mearnskirk Hospital.

Mearnskirk House has itself now closed its doors and the site is currently being cleared for further redevelopment. The Peter Pan sculpture once again finds itself in storage, some 40 miles from home.

Its future is the subject of considerable local interest and some degree of dispute. With the support of East Renfrewshire Council, Mearnskirk Community Group, Mearns History Group and the Ellsworth family are actively campaigning to ensure that the sculpture is preserved and protected as an important part of Mearnskirk’s local history and heritage.

Fred Ellsworth, Strathaven.