Fishing for salmon on Loch Lomond and its tributary rivers will soon be back.

By Bill Heaney

Local anglers can dust down their rods and prepare their reels in anticipation of an announcement from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday that they will be back in their boats or lined up on the riverbanks by next week.

Golfers too can look out their clubs and think through tactics which will hopefully secure them their lowest score ever on the greens and fairways of local golf courses.

However, these and other groups will have at least one new rule to follow – they must stick to social distancing of two metres between those taking part.  Advice on returning to school and work are due also on Thursday.

Ms Sturgeon says the first phase will coincide with the ability to start a substantial TTI (Test, Trace and Isolate) operation to keep the virus under control. “That part is absolutely crucial, “she said.

Thursday’s route map will also set out the updated assessment of how a phased return to school can be achieved.

From Thursday onwards there will also be guidance for key industries on the changes they need to make to keep employees and customers safe from contracting the virus.  There will also be advice on travel and transport.

She told the nation: “Within two weeks my hope is that we will be taking some concrete steps on the journey back to a form of normality.”

Nicola Sturgeon added: “This will be a journey to a better balance than we have today, but between now and then sticking with the lockdown restrictions is so important.

“The key advice remains the same for now and can be found at NHS Inform.”

Dick's boat on Loch Lomond

Angling club member’s dinghy on an island shore on Loch Lomond with the Cobbler in the background. Picture by Bill Heaney

More outdoor activities should be allowed, said the FM and the first phase of this should allow, within a few days of 28 May, more outdoor activity – or relaxation time, if you like – such as being able to sit on a bench in the park; meeting up outdoors with someone from another household with social distancing; visiting garden centres and recycling facilities, and the resumption of some outdoor work.

First phase of easing lockdown expected to start on 28 May, although details of how we approach it will be released on Thursday.

The first minister will publish a route map setting out a phased approach, and this will take into account the current R Number and the latest NRS statistics about the number of deaths with Covid-19.

She says this route map will not have firm dates and a cautious approach will be taken to ensure the virus is suppressed.

For NHS and social care key workers or their families testing should still be accessed through the NHS, said Ms Sturgeon.

She said the expansion will be helpful in building towards the strategy of Test, Trace, Isolate and Support.

From today the number of people who can be tested is being widened.

The change is that anyone over the age of five-years-old who has any of the three symptoms of Covid-19 will now be able to book a test.

This includes the new symptom of a loss of taste or smell, details of which were reported earlier in The Democrat.

The test will be available through the drive in centres at Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, and in Perth and Inverness.

They will also be available through the 12 mobile testing units across the country.

Tests can be booked online with priority given to key workers, she said.

Now, if you have a high temperature, a persistent cough or if you sustain a loss of sense of smell or taste you must stay at home completely for seven days.

The First Minister confirmed that 14,394 people have tested positive for Covid-19, an increase of 57 from yesterday.

And that 1,427 patients are in hospital with a suspected (422) or confirmed (1,005) case (up 119), with 63 being treated in intensive care (up four); 3,354 people have been discharged from hospital after receiving treatment for the virus since 5 March.

Sadly, a further two people who tested positive have died, taking the total to 2,105 deaths in Scotland by that measure.  However, death registrations tend to be lower on Sundays.

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