Most of you will now be aware of the measures being introduced to allow up to 3 households to form a bubble over a very limited time in the run up and during the festive period.
Households will be able to travel between local authorities and between the four nations during December 23 and 27 to form a bubble, and must only join one bubble.
The five-day period provides time for travel, and for those who may have to work over Christmas. Households are not required to use all five days and should keep visits to no more than one or two days if possible.
I would echo the comments of the First Minister that if you do not need to access these additional measures then please carry on sticking to the guidance to help prevent the spread of the virus.
You can access the guidance here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-festive-period/
For the time being and until 11 December Glasgow will remain in tier 4 and you can access the details of what you can and cannot do here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/
General information covering everything from business support to travel guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
Electrical Fire Safety Week runs this year from 23 – 29 November and I am more than happy to lend my support to this campaign.
The campaign this year focuses on the potential risks of electrical fires caused by sub-standard and counterfeit products that are easily available to purchase on online marketplaces. Electrical Safety First who have been spearheading the campaign are encouraging consumers to stick to the stores or websites of known manufacturers and retailers such as those found on the high street.
If you want to know more about the campaign please visit https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/what-we-do/consumer-campaigns/online-campaigns/electrical-fire-safety-week/ and please follow their advice to ensure the electrical product you are buying is safe.
The Scottish Government have announced plans for a significant expansion in Covid-19 testing for hospital patients, health and social care staff, and communities in Level 4 areas.
From next week, all emergency admissions will be tested for COVID, and twice-weekly lateral flow testing will be introduced for all patient-facing healthcare staff working in hospitals, COVID-19 Assessment Centres and the Scottish Ambulance Service. Testing will be introduced for all elective admissions to hospital from mid-December.
In the social care sector, testing will be expanded over the coming months for designated visitors, visiting professional staff, and care at home workers. Visitor testing will be initially introduced in up to 12 care homes across four local authority areas from 7 December, with full roll-out planned for January.
To facilitate Christmas visiting in all care homes, PCR testing will be provided for those that do not have access to lateral flow testing by that time, with guidance on visiting arrangements over Christmas to be published shortly. Testing for the other two social care groups will also commence in January.
The Scotland Loves Local campaign is a national initiative designed to encourage all those who live in Scotland to think local first and support their high streets safely and in line with public health guidelines.
The outbreak of Coronavirus has caused significant challenges for our town centres, high streets and local businesses. They have lost out on vital trade because they had to close to keep us safe. Many of them have gone to enormous lengths to support the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Here in Kelvin we have a fantastic variety of local shops however I realise that with tier 4 many of these businesses have had to close again in order to suppress the virus. Now more than ever they need our help and I would encourage everyone to support our local businesses. So please think local first for your next shop.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
The Parliament held a debate marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The debate raised concerns regarding the impact of the pandemic and the increase in referrals to services for domestic abuse and violence against women. The UN have marked this as the Shadow Pandemic.
I would encourage anyone experiencing violence to access the support that they need and urge everyone to continue to challenge violence and abuse, hold perpetrators to account for their behaviour and work together to build a Scotland where everyone can live equally safe.
If you or someone you know needs help you can access a number of organisations across Glasgow here: https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/article/25282/Want-to-know-more
It was an honour once again to co-sponsor the Scottish Parliament Diwali celebrations albeit a very different celebration moving the event online.
This would have been the second celebration of the Festival of Light and whilst it is disappointing, we could not celebrate in the Scottish Parliament the event organisers still managed to make the celebrations very special with some extraordinary contributions.
Important news announced this week by the Scottish Government, which students across Kelvin will have been anticipating. Students travelling home at the end of term will be able to take voluntary coronavirus tests through their college or university from next Monday.
As part of a number of measures to support a safe return home, students are also being asked to take extra care in the period leading up their departure, only going out for essential purposes such as learning, exercise and food shopping. This is to minimise the number of contacts they have with others and reduce the potential for spread of the virus.
Updated guidance has now been published for students on minimising social contact, testing and end of term travel – whether to other parts of Scotland, the UK or the world.
You can access further information here: https://www.studentinformation.gov.scot/coronavirus/students-returning-home
Another first for Scotland as MSPs this week voted to become the first country in the world to ‘make period poverty history’ and legislate that anyone in Scotland can access free period products.
The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill enshrines the right to access free period products for anyone who menstruates in Scotland. This will be through a duty placed on local authorities and education providers to make period products obtainable for free to anyone who needs to use them.
The Scottish Government became a world leader as the first country to provide free products for pupils and students in education, as well as to women on low-incomes across a range of community settings – investing over £21 million in the scheme.
Brexit Contingency Plan
Contingency plans have been put in place by the Scottish Government to cope with the damaging impacts of Brexit.
Measures to mitigate the worst effects of leaving the European Union (EU) on December 31 will target support at health services, businesses and at risk communities.
With just five weeks to go to the end of the transition period, the UK Government and the EU are still in negotiations over the terms of Brexit with both a no deal and ‘low deal’ still on the table.
The deal favoured by the UK Government and the prospect of no deal will see Scotland taken out of the Single Market and the Customs Union and mean the end of freedom of movement, negatively impacting jobs and living standards.
Current concerns include the introduction of tariffs, shortages of medical supplies and disruption to imports and exports from new border controls and customs restrictions.
What is clear is that whatever the outcome of the current negotiations between the UK and the EU we know Scotland’s economy and its communities are facing unnecessary damage at the worst possible time.
As always please follow the FACTS – Face coverings, Avoid crowded places, Clean hands and surfaces regularly, Two metre distancing; and Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.