With the rapid increase in the spread of the virus amongst our student population I made contact with the universities and student bodies to extend my assistance. I also took the opportunity to raise this in Parliament during Topical Question Time which you can access here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12853&i=116194
I agree entirely with the Minister for Further and Higher Education that universities must ensure students self-isolating on campus receive the highest possible standards of support to maintain their physical as well as their mental wellbeing.
The Minister also confirmed that every possible effort is being made to allow students to return home safely at Christmas if they wish to do so, and that the Government is now exploring the merits of some ‘targeted surveillance COVID testing’, to better understand the level of asymptomatic cases of the virus among the student population.
Universities Scotland, which represents Scotland’s 19 universities and higher education institutions, has now confirmed a package of 10 measures it will be using to support student wellbeing which you can access here: https://www.universities-scotland.ac.uk/scotlands-universities-launch-consistent-core-of-care-for-students-during-the-pandemic/
The Government published additional guidance to inform students wishing to return home right now, of their options and how the latest national restrictions apply to student households, you can access the guidance here: https://www.gov.scot/news/student-accommodation-guidance-on-visits-home/
I would urge all students to follow the guidance issued by their Universities, the Scottish Government and to follow the FACTS. If you have symptoms please self isolate and book a test of which there is more information here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested/pages/arrange-a-test/ better still I would encourage everyone again to download the Protect Scotland App which can be accessed here: https://protect.scot/
I will continue to keep in close contact with the Universities across the constituency.
Support for Self-Isolating
People on low incomes will be eligible to receive a new £500 grant if asked to self-isolate.
The new Self-Isolation Support Grant will help those who would lose income if they needed to self-isolate, such as those unable to carry out their work from home.
This grant is for those who will face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate and will be targeted at people who are in receipt of Universal Credit or legacy benefits, with some discretion to make awards to others in financial hardship.
Applications are due to open from 12 October and will be delivered through the existing Scottish Welfare Fund, which is administered by local authorities. Please check with Glasgow City Council https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/swf who will be administering the fund.
Internal Market Bill
It will come as no surprise to you that I am firmly behind the Scottish Government’s opposition to the Internal Market Bill rushed through Westminster this week.
We now also have news that the EU has started legal action against the UK Government on the Bill.
This Bill opens the door to a post-Brexit race to the bottom and will mean democratic decisions of the Scottish Parliament on public health, environmental standards, food standards and a range of other key areas can be over-ridden.
UK Government ministers have accepted the Internal Market Bill will break international law. It would be equally outrageous if they decided also to break the constitutional convention that the Westminster Parliament does not legislate in devolved areas without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.
The UK’s established constitutional rules mean that the consent of the Scottish Parliament is required for the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill to proceed. If the Parliament refuses to grant consent then that should kill the Bill stone dead. It will demonstrate beyond all doubt that the UK Government does not believe the UK to be a partnership of equals.
The Tories are marching on with their extreme Brexit disaster which will ruin our reputation and damage our economy. The only way we can protect Scotland’s interests and place in Europe is Independence.
As a member of the Health and Sport Committee I took part in the Stage One debate on the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill.
Victims of sexual offences should be able to access medical treatment in as simple a manner as possible and the Committee supports this legislation and believes it is a much-needed step forward in putting victim’s needs and rights first, whilst also improving access to forensic medical examinations.
This Bill empowers victims, placing the decision of whether to report incidents in their hands and this principle is one that is strongly supported by the Committee.
You can access the full debate and my contribution here: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/ReportSelectPage.aspx?type=plenary&year=2020&page=0&meeting=-1
I wanted to reiterate the current restrictions in place for clarity. I realise that guidance and regulations have been changed considerably over the past few weeks and has caused some confusion which is understandable with things moving at pace.
The restrictions include:
Inside people’s homes:
Do not meet people from any other households in your home or another person’s home socially, unless they are in your extended household
These rules also apply to children
Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes, as can non-cohabiting couples
Very limited exemptions apply for childcare, and for tradespeople
Private gardens or public outdoors spaces:
A maximum of six people from two households can meet in outdoor spaces
You should limit as far as possible the total number of households you meet in a day
Under-12s do not count towards the maximum number of households or number of people who can meet outdoors. Under-12s do not have to physically distance
A maximum of six 12 to 17 year olds can meet in outdoor spaces, with no household limit. Physical distancing is still required
Indoors in public spaces:
A maximum of six people from two households can meet in public indoor spaces such as cafes, pubs and restaurants
Children under 12 from those two households do not count towards the limits
Pubs, restaurants and all hospitality settings will be required to close at 10pm
Table service will continue to be required in all hospitality premises
You should only car share with members of your own, or extended, household, and follow guidance when there is no alternative
You must continue to work from home where practicable
These restrictions will be reviewed on 15 October and further guidance will made available where necessary.
For all up to date guidance please go to https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-staying-safe-and-protecting-others/
As always please follow the Scottish Government FACTS:
Face coverings in enclosed spaces
Avoid crowded places
Clean hands and surfaces regularly
Two metre distancing; and
Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms