Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.
Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all working from home. If you need help, phone the office as normal and leave an outline message. Someone will soon get back to you. You can also email me at any time. All the contact details are at the end of this email.
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Parliamentary recess is over
As of this week, the Scottish Parliamentary Chamber will be back in action following the summer recess.
And what a strange summer it has been! Normally filled with lots of community events, festivals and sporting fixtures, our normality has changed dramatically. People in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse have been fully supportive of the essential restrictions, recognising the need to help everyone.
There remain a small number of incredibly thoughtless people who are not following the guidance. By doing this they are not only putting their own lives at risk, they are risking the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities.
Covid 19 update
This is such an insidious virus. No sooner do we think that just perhaps we are tentatively beginning to find our way through and out of it when it comes back somewhere with its vicious bite.
Aberdeen has the latest cluster of 101 cases on Friday 7 August, including two Aberdeen Football Club players. The First Minister expressed her frustration at the eight players who visited a bar in the city last Saturday night (31 July).
Lockdown measures were reintroduced last Wednesday as the cases in the cluster grew. By the First Minister’s Press Briefing on Friday 7 August, there were 22 new cases within that total of 101.
Ms Sturgeon said: "It is now clear that all eight of these players visited a bar in Aberdeen on Saturday night.
"In doing so they blatantly broke the rules that had been agreed between the SFA, the SPFL, and the Scottish government, which, to put it mildly, is completely unacceptable."
The First Minister added: “"We are asking members of the public to behave in a highly precautionary manner," she said.
"When a football club ends up with players infected with Covid - and let's remember this is not through bad luck but through clear breaches of the rules - we cannot take even a small risk that they then spread the infection to other parts of the country."
The situation in Aberdeen shows what happens if we let our guard down. The virus is suppressed across Scotland, but that does not mean it is gone. It is opportunistic, simply waiting for a chance to catch us when we become at all complacent. It doesn't need any encouragement. If we relax, then the virus will be back again and so will the restrictions needed to control its spread.
Hospitality and leisure rules
Settings where face coverings must be legally worn in Scotland is expanding to include certain indoor public places such as cinemas, galleries, museums and banks, from Saturday (8 August).
Further rules for the hospitality sector, including the introduction of new statutory guidance, have been announced to increase compliance and keep the sector safely open. From Friday (14 August), it will be mandatory to collect contact details of customers in a range of hospitality and public settings.
The First Minister said: “We’ve seen – every day of this outbreak – how easily Covid 19 can spread. We need to do everything we can to stop it in its tracks and that is why we are expanding the mandatory use of face coverings in more indoor public spaces, and will be implementing further regulations for the hospitality sector.
Many of these measures should already be in place as part of the guidance, but in order to keep the sector open – safely – we are now placing them in law.”
More people to get the seasonal flu jab
This winter, to protect those most at risk from concurrent infection of Covid 19 and flu, the government is expanding the vaccination programme to new groups and increasing capacity to vaccinate more people than ever before.
Social care workers, people over 55 and household members of those who are shielding will all be eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccine. The Scottish Government will look to extend to those aged 50-54, if vaccine supplies allow.
Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said: “The seasonal flu vaccination programme helps to protect the most vulnerable and alleviate pressure on the NHS. This will be more important than ever this year, in light of the Covid 19 pandemic.”
Further £63 million to maintain bus services
As my colleagues and I continue to press for the continuation of our X1 bus service – we are meeting with First again later this week – it is good news to note that the Scottish Government has approved additional expenditure 8 November. This extends the support of up to £46.7 million which is being provided to increase bus services since 22 June.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson said: “With bus travel typically accounting for just under three quarters of all public transport journeys – this funding for bus services is vital in keeping Scotland moving during the Covid 19 crisis.
"People all over the country are reliant on bus services to access employment, health services and to see family and friends. This additional funding of up to £63 million seeks to support those people, by anticipating their needs and keeping them safe – by providing an uplift in bus services with physical distancing measures in place.”
Cleaning up in Hamilton
Volunteer group, Helping Hands, are putting their shoulders to the task of cleaning up litter.
The group started up in response to the onslaught of Covid 19 to help people when and wherever they could do so. They have been delivering care packages, groceries and other vital supplies to families and individuals in need of support.
Now Helping Hands founder, Sean Boyd (pictured right, courtesy of the Hamilton Advertiser) and a group of other volunteers are heading off to the streets, parks, wooded areas, paths and woodlands to clean up after others.
South Lanarkshire Council Leader, John Ross (SNP) popped along to join the team at Eddlewood. They were delighted to have his help.
For further information on the group please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/878856882613432/
Hamilton Town House Library to re-open
Today (10 August) will see the Town House Library able to re-open with freshly installed protection measures to ensure safety for staff and visitors.
The measures in place include:
Controlled numbers of visitors in the early stages
Reception screens and PPE for staff
Enhanced cleaning regimes
Test and Protect registers
Compulsory wearing of face coverings by visitors
Social distancing observed
If you’re not already a library member, and would like to join, you can do so online at www.slleisureculture.co.uk
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP?
The community spirit shown by people across Lanarkshire has been heart-warming. If you would like to offer your help, there are a whole host of new groups working across Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.
They are working together to help spread cheer and make sure the most vulnerable in our area are getting the necessities they need.
The range of services provided include delivering shopping to elderly or vulnerable neighbours, using online group chats to combat social isolation and loneliness, and handing out care packages to the elderly and vulnerable.
If you are in Hamilton, you can find more information about the Hamilton Covid 19 Warriors here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/213851619986142
If you are in Larkhall, you can find out more information about the Covid 19 Rainbows – Larkhall here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1092656721095368/permalink/1092743704420003
If you are in Stonehouse, you can find out more information about Stonehouse Coronavirus Community Support here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3402877913061116
At this time, it has never been more important for us all to look after our neighbours and family.
HELP SERVICES AVAILABLE
For Scottish Government information - https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
For NHS Scotland information - https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus
For Resilience planning information - https://www.readyscotland.org/
For young people - https://young.scot/
Parents https://www.parentclub.scot/ and https://www.children1st.org.uk/help-for-families/parentline-scotland/
For older people - https://www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland/