Almost all of those also asked to see my ID to show that the Covid pass was indeed mine. This regulation actually came into force the day I arrived there, on Monday, 15 November.
Was I inconvenienced? Not in the slightest. Did asking for the Covid pass inconvenience those working in the cafes, etc? Of course not. Did I feel my civil liberties were being infringed or limited in any way? Quite the opposite, as I knew that I was going into places that were reducing the risk of me becoming infected and I did see the occasional customer being refused entry for not having the required proof.
There are loud voices in the media quibbling about minor, theoretical restrictions on individual freedom. Instead they should be encouraging all those who are unvaccinated through stupidity, laziness or simply being misinformed to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
Bill Cooper, Kinross, Perth and Kinross
Rights and wrongs
Much is made of Covid restrictions being an infringement of individual rights. How have measures designed to protect people from contracting a deadly virus morphed into a debate over rights? UK Government framing has a lot to do with it.
On 19 July the Tories ended protections in England such as mask wearing and social distancing without ever addressing the crucial issue of indoor ventilation, calling it "Freedom Day”. Since then, the UK has had 15,000 Covid deaths and has had the highest hospital admissions during all waves including the most recent, bringing the NHS to the brink as winter looms. Compared with Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, the UK has the highest per capita excess death rate.
The gloating in the UK press over the current European wave ignores the cost of this “freedom”. To prevent future lockdowns, scientists recommend adopting the “vaccine plus” strategy. This means not relying solely on vaccinations but combining them with regular testing, isolating when infectious, maximising indoor ventilation, social distancing and face coverings, which are all proven to reduce viral spread.
In addition to communicating clearly with the public, the Scottish Government has adopted the vaccine plus strategy. It has the lowest infection and death rates and the highest vaccination rates in the UK. Not surprisingly, a UCL Covid social study found public trust in government is higher in Scotland than in England.
Leadership matters. Imagine how many more lives could have been saved had Scotland been independent.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh
Yet again Scotland lags behind. Two weeks ago gov.uk informed us: “From 15 December, those who are 65 and over and who have been fully vaccinated for more than six months and five weeks will need to demonstrate that they have received an approved Covid-19 booster injection to access the ‘pass sanitaire’ in France.”
And NHS Inform on the Scottish Government’s website? “Only your first and second dose will show… Boosters are not required for international travel… so are not currently included on the Covid status app or the paper copy.”
Be warned if you are over 65 and heading to France over Christmas, hoping to stay in a hotel, eat out, or even have a coffee at a pavement cafe. Unless of course scot.gov gets its act together. Auld Alliance?
Sally Cheseldine, Edinburgh
My wife and I went through the process of obtaining vaccine passports because we thought we would need them for two events in November.
We arrived at the turnstiles at Murrayfield and like many fellow supporters had our phones out ready to show our vaccine status but there was no checking in place. We then sat in a crowd of 67,000 of whom less than one per cent kept their masks on throughout the game.
In the next week we arrived at the Queen’s Hall for a concert again armed with our vaccine status but again it was not required for admission. This time around 50 per cent of the audience kept their masks on.
Just what is the point of vaccine passports if no checking is taking place?
Donald Miller, Edinburgh
Drink was taken
I am a lifelong supporter of the Scottish team and a debenture holder at Murrayfield but am seriously considering not returning.
Sitting at the end of a row in the South Stand my viewing is constantly interrupted by fellow spectators traipsing in and out of their seats throughout the match. They arrive often after the kick-off with up to four pints of beer which they proceed to consume and then have need of a toilet break before half-time. They return with another four pints after the second half has started and again have to leave before full-time. At the recent match against Australia two spectators next to me lasted 20 minutes before they left and never returned to their seats.
Then there are those in the rows in front who rise to their feet any time Scotland are attacking the tryline in front of us. Watching the other matches on the TV at home was a much more enjoyable experience and my offspring can use the debenture seat in future.
Donald Millar, Edinburgh
Despite some surprising ignorance in the details of her life revealed in a recent survey (Scotsman, 22 November), surely Mary I of Scotland is the least requiring of more attention among figures of Scottish history, royal or otherwise.
Focus on other monarchs such as David I and James IV is long overdue, hugely more important at least within Scotland, and less known to the public than poor tragic Mary, blown out of proportion because of her part in drama, literature and film and as antagonist to her English cousin.
Indeed Mary's mother, Mary of Guise, was arguably a more significant influence on events, as regent (1554-1560), and who, by the way, was one of six queens (consort and regnant) entitled to be called 'Mary, Queen of Scots' up to the Union in 1707.
Could Glasgow University not be a little more imaginative in casting its net over Scotland's past figures who are ripe for study?
HIR Allan, Edinburgh
I am writing in reference to the letter from Ma Qiang, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China headlined “China ‘presents an opportunity, not a threat’” (Scotsman, 19 November).
With regards to the status of Taiwan, we shall let the documents speak for themselves. There is no signature in the texts of the Cairo Declaration when we look into historic archives in the USA, Japan, and Taiwan. It is also noted that Sir Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister who attended the Cairo Conference, told the House of Commons in 1955 that ‘it [the Cairo Declaration] contained merely a statement of common purpose”, In reality, the Republic of China (Taiwan) is a sovereign, independent country, and the People’s Republic of China. and the ROC (Taiwan) are not subordinate to each other.
Rick Waters, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State recently commented that “[PRC] has misused Resolution 2758 to prevent Taiwan's meaningful participation” in the UN. Taiwan has undergone a process of democratisation and is internationally recognised as a mature democracy, and shares the same value as western free countries. Only the popularly elected government has the right to represent the 23.5 million Taiwanese people in the international arena, including the UN system and regional economic cooperation mechanism.
As a responsible global partner, a 65 per cent of global revenue for chips manufacturer, and an important economic and trading partner of the UK, Taiwan is recognised worldwide for its capabilities and contributions to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and advancing post-pandemic recovery. The UK is pivoting to Asia and has already applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Taiwan plays an irreplaceable role in the global high-tech supply chain, with a highly transparent market economy and the ability and willingness to respect the CPTPP standards. We support initiatives that deepen economic integration and promote high standards on trade-related rules.
With a firm belief that regional economic integration brings our economic and trade relations closer, collaborations between Taiwan, the UK, and other like-minded countries in CPTPP, constitute a significant symbol of democratic unity and show our strong commitment to promoting free trade in the Trans-Pacific region.
Jason CC Lien, Director General, Taipei Representative Office in the UK Edinburgh Office
Brought to book
Perhaps David Walker (Letters, 22 November) missed the sentence in my letter which pointed out the support Nicola Sturgeon gives to authors throughout the Scottish literary scene.
Mr Walker's contention is that she only supports authors who support independence. Given that, over the years, she has supported dozens of authors, if they are all independence supporters, this augurs very well for the future of the independence movement and I thank David Walker for that cheering piece of news.
Gill Turner, Edinburgh
The deep end
I am indebted to Malcolm Ogilvie (Letters, 23 November) for assuring me that there is enough ice on the Greenland icecap which, if melted, will raise global sea levels by about six metres (20 feet). I can now sleep easy in the knowledge that, if this melt happens, my home on the southern fringes of Edinburgh will be 545 feet above sea level rather than its present 565 feet.
Lindsay Walls, Edinburgh
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