HERE in Catania, Sunday was a special day. It was the first Sunday that there has been any loosening of lockdown for two months. In Sicily as a whole there were 14 new corona cases and no deaths.

Catania, with a population about the same as Edinburgh’s, had just one of those new cases and, even with no shops, no bars, not even proper gelati, the people were out, permitted for the first time in ten weeks to take their passegiati. Yet there was no arm-in-arm, no holding hands but chatting behind face-masks, keeping distance from other couples or groups with perhaps just a call across, a wave and a smile.

READ MORE: Data shows Scotland is not ready to go back to normality

It was fascinating, even rather beautiful. Some women had dressed up. Some had even done their hair, though no salon will be able to open until June 1. Phase two of the published programme for opening is very specific about that. Weddings and funerals are now allowed but only within the region. On May 18 it will be shopping, church, team sports training and museums and on June 1, by which time I should be back in the clachan, restaurants and finally, finally a haircut.

But back to Sunday. The sun was warm. Etna was gleaming. Young and old were out. The police were there too, even the army, chatting also but keeping an eye. It was an exercise in self-control, “release but no rush”, which, might I suggest, rather than “stay alert”, should be not just Scotland’s slogan but also our reality.

Iain Campbell Whittle

GREG Russell’s excellent article, “Construction body urges minister to adopt rescue plan” (May 11) highlights the dilemma facing the Scottish construction industry – lack of cash flow.

The Scottish Government could facilitate the release of retention monies on all public-sector contracts and at the same time try to persuade private-sector clients to follow their example. It is worth remembering that retention money is money which the contractors have already earned but is retained in accordance with the most conditions of contract.

READ NOW: Construction body urges Scottish Government to adopt rescue plan

It is purely a bureaucratic procedure but its release would provide immediate help to the construction industry’s battle with cash-flow problems. This could be achieved without in any way damaging Nicola Sturgeon’s herculean efforts to contain and finally defeat the coronavirus.

Best wishes to Len Bunton and his Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum in their efforts to save their industry from disaster, which would undoubtedly have huge knock-on effects for the whole country.

Thomas L Inglis

MONEY Money Money, must be funny, in the rich man’s world. Money Money Money, it must be sunny, in Boris Johnson’s world (my apologies to Abba!) What planet is Bumbling Boris on? Stay at home ... go back to work ... stay at home ... go sunbathing in the park or seaside or for a picnic with the weans in your car!

Robin MacLean
Fort Augustus

THERE are now clear differences between the Covid-19 advice from Westminster and that from the devolved administrations. I would say about time! Mr Johnson has repeatedly said he has taken scientific advice, but his actions make it clear that he puts the economy before people’s health.

The news media are trying to get to the bottom of what Boris’s policy means in practice, but they do not have access to his government’s thinking. For example, if primary schools are to reopen soon, how will a teacher with a group of year one pupils ensure that social distancing is maintained? Has Boris ever tried to keep a group of 20-plus five-year-olds two metres apart? What will happen to the school if a single pupil is infected? Will the whole school have to close?

Will someone who is unable to get to work other than on public transport be entitled to social support? Can 12-year-olds go and play footie in the park with their mates? What will happen if the infectivity figure, currently only just below the critical point of 1, rises?

Mr Johnson said in his statement that his was a “conditional plan”. In what circumstances will the plan change? There are so many unanswered questions.

It is not normal to promote a policy while leaving the advice upon which the advice is based unpublished. I suspect that there is a good reason for this; to ensure that criticism can be deflected until after the Conservative media have finished their feeding frenzy, applauded Boris for his “brave actions” and let him of the hook.

Thank you, Nicola, for listening to advice from all quarters and rejecting the Westminster buffoon’s dangerous policies.

Pete Rowberry

TO avoid confusion created by uninformed England ministers, just close the borders. It’s the safest way. What is the big deal? What is the real fear?

Maria Carnero

BORIS’S latest bumbling statements on being alert raises the old question. Who wants to be a lert?

Donald Anderson