Incredibly, Scotland’s students have been hit with brutal restrictions including a ‘stay away from pubs’ order and a ban on going home.
This is an absolute disgrace: a thousand new students have been imprisoned across Scotland – victims of Nicola Sturgeon’s preoccupation with looking good and fighting propaganda battles with London rather than taking the measures that would really beat Covid.
And now, incredibly, all of Scotland’s students have been hit with a brutal list of restrictions including a ‘stay away from pubs’ order.
The locked-down teenagers, just starting their varsity careers, are not so much prisoners as hostages – held captive until there’s an improvement in the official statistics about which Ms Sturgeon has thus far been only too pleased to boast.
No longer; Scotland’s figures are at least as bad as England’s means she has had to come up with ever-more draconian restrictions.
But the punitive rules being inflicted on all these kids puts everything else in the shade. Students have been told that they can’t do much more than stare at the four blank walls of their tiny flats, with security guards patrolling their halls of residence, they can’t mix with their fellow freshers, and can’t go home or even meet Mum and Dad.
Was asked last night whether students in halls and flats can go back to parents’ homes. To clarify, they are a separate household. There are exceptions, eg caring responsibilities, but the law is clear: they can’t meet indoors with another household – even mum and dad. Sorry.
Adding to the astonishing confusion was the fact that only 24 hours earlier Professor Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government’s main media star, had said that students could see their parents.
But he flip-flopped, decreeing that mum and dad represented a second household – making, under the Sturgeon-rules, a meeting with their own children unlawful. If it wasn’t so ridiculous and grossly unfair, it would be risible.
Moreover, if students flout any of their new restrictions they’d be breaking the law and liable to be hammered in the courts.
In what was taking on the aspect of a punishment beating universities warned that students who defied the new rules of their incarceration would be expelled and thrown out of their flats.
All of this is happening in spite of the fact that three months ago Professor Devi Sridhar, the woman widely regarded as one of Ms Sturgeon’s closest and most influential public health advisors, said that if universities were to re-open safely all students should be tested for the virus on arrival and again five days later.
But back in those balmy summer months the First Minister was basking in improved opinion poll results on the back of what appeared to be better anti-virus tactics than Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London. As a result Professor Sridhar’s warning was ignored.
To re-open safely, universities have to:1. Test all students on arrival & 5 days later2. Mandatory use of face coverings3. Ventilation of classrooms4. Ensure monitoring of students during quarantine with app & check-ins (to ensure compliance)5. Clear outbreak response plan.
On Thursday reality dawned. Labour’s Monica Lennon accused Ms Sturgeon of a ‘shocking lack of foresight’ and highlighted the plight of many students who were away from home for the first time, with no family or friends to support them.
Her words begged one obvious question: Why is the SNP government so indifferent to the welfare of our children?
The treatment of these first year students in Glasgow and Dundee comes hard on the heels of two other major policy car crashes concerning young people.
The first came when Ms Sturgeon agreed that pupils would have to suffer part-time education for a year – attending school on perhaps as little as one day a week, with most lessons taught remotely. That plan was scrapped only after a ferocious campaign by parents and the media.
And then we saw the exam results of many pupils, especially those from the poorest families, being downgraded by the official exam body before another storm of criticism forced a humiliating U turn which saw their initial grades restored.
1/ To all students – I’m so sorry COVID is making this special time of your lives so tough. But it won’t be forever and the more we get the virus back under control now, the sooner you’ll get a bit of normality back. So, please do what’s being asked of you
Throughout the pandemic emergency Ms Sturgeon’s better communication skills, demonstrated at her daily televised press conferences, have seen her win support from voters who were not normally her fans. This, in turn, has led to increased opinion poll support for independence.
However, with the spike in the Covid infection rate in Scotland matching that in England, on top of the appalling and confusing treatment now being meted out to all these young people can Ms Sturgeon’s feel confident that her new supporters will stick with her. Surely not.
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News – Scotland’s locked-down students are being held hostage thanks to Nicola Sturgeon’s ridiculous rules