LIKE New Zealand, we have had our Covid. The Highlands has had at latest count 341 cases, but none in the last several days, and that is how it needs to remain. Indeed, where I stay we have had none and we don’t want any.

And the way we have remained virus-free is through complete lockdown. It has made sense in communities like ours in rural Scotland. The fact that we, the inhabitants, are few and spread-out has made the policy not just successful, but spectacularly so, if a little lonely at times.

Yet that seems as if it might change, owing to a debate in which we are having little part. It seems literally to be taking place in the cities further south in Scotland and over the Border. No Highland voices are heard, for example, nor any from Buchan, Argyll, Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders or the islands.

READ MORE: Phase 2: Nicola Sturgeon's full speech on easing lockdown

Moreover, it is a debate between people who use the draw of the Highlands and elsewhere to take their cut from those passing through but with obviously little care for where their erstwhile guests go next – that is, into our communities – and apparently no care at all as to with what.

It is between people who look at the bottom line and for whom it is a numbers game. They are many, we are few, and we need not be consulted. They want lots of pounds, we need few, but nevertheless could be left with infection where there is none and illness that will, sure as viral is viral, be fatal to some, when it need not have been.

And all because of a plan the basis of which seems to be to insist that people from the most infected part of western Europe travel to the least infected, or in continental European terms demanding that Swedes take their holidays in Norway.

So I ask, in this race by others to open up not just their backyards but ours, who is looking out for us? Who is putting in the temperature checks, the infection checks, the screening of source, the prevention of transmission, the enforcement of social distancing, the wearing of masks by touring passers-through, who are literally infinitely more infectious than many of those who call rural Scotland home? Or will someone in Edinburgh find themselves, sometime around the middle of August, having like Jacinda Ardern this week to say, “these cases represent an unacceptable failure of the system. It should never have happened and it cannot be repeated ... there are no excuses.”

Iain Campbell Whittle

AS more probing questions are raised about the UK Government’s introduction of quarantine regulations, it may be instructive to look at other countries for a possible route forward for the UK and for Scotland.

Latvia, with a population of just under two million people and a 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population of under two (CC19-Index), has introduced a quarantine policy where any visitor from a country with a CC19-Index exceeding 15 must observe self-isolate for 14 days.

By setting a clear threshold, the Latvian Government has seemingly adopted a sensible and logical approach to the imposition of quarantine regulations that effectively enables travellers from countries where the virus has been suppressed to travel to and from Latvia freely without the need for the Latvian Government to first establish a “travel corridor bridge” via bilateral agreement with each individual country (the currently applicable UK CC19-Index is more than 30, while the indices applicable to Denmark and Ireland are just over nine and eight respectively).

Alternatively, should the UK Government wish to adhere to what can only be described as a crude approach to quarantine regulations that disadvantages a country which economically relies heavily on the tourist industry, then perhaps other strategies could be explored, especially if the numbers of new cases fall further below those of England and Wales.

The suggestion by Henry McLeish of negotiating a “Scotland-only extension” to the current transition period with the European Union could, if achieved, include forthwith open travel arrangements subject to an agreed CC19-Index threshold.

Should such an extension not be possible, perhaps the Scottish Government could negotiate “travel corridors”, in addition to any negotiated by the UK Government, either for Scotland or for designated Scottish airports within health board areas where the CC19-Index is below an agreed threshold.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian

I THINK it a farce that anyone is considering raising the maximum age people can be referred to the Children’s Panel from 16 to 18!

Aren’t the people who have come up with this aware you can get married at 16 and apply for social housing as well? If a person can do both of the above, then they are no longer children.

My maternal grandfather and his brother joined the army in early 1915, lied about their ages at 17 and 16 respectively and fought in the trenches. Do the little snowflakes we have now need wrapping in cotton wool?

Andrew Heatlie