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Voucher scheme to provide free school meals

Highland Council is to provide e-vouchers to families that received free school meals.

For most of the more than 4,000 children involved it will give them access to food at their local supermarket.

Some restrictions do apply as the e-vouchers cannot be used to purchase age restricted products such as tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets and fuel.

The vouchers are to be made available from 30 March.

'Go home now or get the jail'
Police confront a man on the street who says he has coronoavirus.

Frontline police officers to get protective equipment

Frontline police officers are to get more protective equipment in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The equipment includes masks, gloves, boot covers and goggles.

About 630 of Scotland’s 17,259 police officers currently have the protective kits and the rest will be issued from next week.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said the force had been working round the clock in “challenging circumstances” to secure the extra equipment.

Some vulnerable people may receive less care

NHS Highland is warning that some vulnerable people who receive care at home may have to cope with less help during the coronavirus pandemic.

The health board currently supports about 6,000 people in the Highland Council area who are considered to be at the highest risk from Covid-19.

NHS Highland said its workforce was under "extraordinary" strain, forcing it to make some “difficult decisions” such as fewer and shorter visits to those in need.

It is working with Highland Council and voluntary organisations to make sure those who need help the most continue to receive support.

NHS Highland said: "Whilst we are attempting to avoid disruption, it is to be expected that people may have to cope with less care to allow need to be met."

Chief constable to speak about lockdown enforcement

Iain Llivingstone
BBC

Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone will be speaking on Good Morning Scotland after 08:00.

The force has new powers to enforce the coronavirus lockdown rules, which include arresting people who repeatedly refuse to comply with the restrictions.

However, the chief constable has said arresting people will be an "absolute backstop".

Police call for action on childcare

Jamie McIvor

BBC Scotland education correspondent

police
Getty Images

The Scottish Police Federation wants urgent action to ensure the children of police officers can always get childcare at the special hubs that councils have been setting up.

It says many officers are concerned about some of the arrangements and that some have been unable to get places.

Different councils have their own lists of just how they define key workers.

Edinburgh has specified that police officers are among those getting top priority.

Meanwhile councils are gradually getting a better sense of what the demand for childcare is like in practice.

Highland Council sets out plans for hubs

Schools to be used as centres for caring for children of key workers in the Highlands have been listed by the local authority.

Highland Council plans to set up hubs at Millburn Academy and Inverness Royal Academy in Inverness also Dingwall Academy and Ullapool Academy.

Portree High School on Skye, Lochaber High School in Fort William, Golspie High School, Noss Primary in Wick and Miller Academy in Thurso are also be used as centres.

The council said key workers would be contacted about the arrangements.

But it warned that not everyone who had requested a place would be given one and it was working to increase capacity at the hubs.

Loch Ness visitor centre shuts for first time in 40 years

loch Ness
bbc
The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition has temporarily shut down for the first time

A tourist attraction at Loch Ness has temporarily shutdown for the first time since it opened 40 years ago.

The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition has only previously closed for Christmas Day, said its co-owner David Bremner.

The site in Drumnadrochit closed on Friday in line with efforts to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Bremner said if the Loch Ness Monster could avoid social contact for centuries, the centre could manage to do the same for a "few weeks".

Council arranging key worker childcare

Highland Council says work is ongoing to make arrangements to provide childcare to key workers, such as health service employees.

Like the rest of Scotland, all schools in the Highland area are closed.

Schools have been in touch with parents about arrangements to provide lessons via online "classrooms" and school blogs.

The council said it was preparing for the need to teach and care for key workers.

A spokesman said: "We have been seeking key workers to register over the weekend and details will be publicised shortly.”

Severe accident: A9 Highland both ways

BBC News Travel

A9 Highland both ways severe accident, at The Tomich Restaurant.

A9 Highland - A9 in Tomich blocked and queues in both directions at The Tomich Restaurant junction, because of an accident involving a lorry.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Schools closed to thousands of Highlands children

A large number of Highlands schools have been closed or partially closed.

Seven secondary schools, including Alness Academy and Grantown Grammar, have been closed to S1-3 pupils and 19 primaries have been shut.

The closures involve more than 5,400 children.

Schools closed to thousands of Highlands pupils

More than 3,600 children are not at nursery or school across the Highlands.

Nurseries, primaries and secondary schools have been completely or partially closed due to staff absences or public health concerns.

Schools affected include Dingwall and Fortrose academies and Charleston Academy and Inverness Royal Academy in Inverness.

Ten primary schools, two special schools and 13 nurseries have also been affected by closures.

No cruise ships at Invergordon port in April

No cruise ships will call at Invergordon in the Highlands next month, the local port authority has said.

Port of Cromarty Firth said the measure had been taken due to "ongoing developments" with Covid-19.

It said: "As the Covid-19 developments remain fluid, the cruise calls scheduled for May into Invergordon are under constant review.

"The port will follow the instructions, advice and guidance from the governing authorities and experts as it becomes available."

School and centre closures in Highlands and Isles

Schools and leisure facilities are closing in parts of the Highlands and Islands.

In Inverness, Charleston Academy will be closed to S1-3 pupils from Wednesday until further notice and Smithton Primary was shut on Tuesday due to multiple staff absences.

All sport and leisure facilities, libraries and museums in the Western Isles will be closed indefinitely from 17:00 on Tuesday and all school lets cancelled until further notice.

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Precautionary measures in Highlands

Dounreay
DSRL
Precautionary measures have been introduced at Dounreay in Caithness

In the Highlands, Inverness’ Smithton Primary School has closed on Tuesday because of multiple staff absences. The school said there were no known or suspected case of Covid-19 and hopes to reopen later in the week.

Scotland’s mobile cinema, the Screen Machine, has suspended screenings until it is “safe and appropriate” to resume touring.

Dounreay nuclear power site near Thurso has asked anyone who suspects they have the virus, or are over 70 years old, or pregnant or have concerns about underlying health conditions not to attend the site. Homeworking has been encouraged for employees who can do so.

And the Royal Navy has said planning for major military exercise Joint Warrior, which largely takes place around Scotland and due to start next week, was “ongoing”.

The navy could not confirm at this stage nations and units taking part. A spokeswoman said: “We are monitoring the situation with coronavirus carefully and will take health advice into consideration during planning."

Severe disruption: A9 Highland both ways

BBC News Travel

A9 Highland both ways severe disruption, between A836 and A949.

A9 Highland - Strong winds on A9 Dornoch Bridge in Clashmore between the A836 junction and the A949 junction.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Tyrone Smith

BBC Scotland Sport

A player from Inverness Caledonian Thistle and another from Stenhousemuir are in self-isolation after showing symptoms associated with coronavirus.

Read more

Severe disruption: A9 Highland both ways

BBC News Travel

A9 Highland both ways severe disruption, between A836 and A949.

A9 Highland - Strong winds on A9 Dornoch Bridge in Clashmore between the A836 junction and the A949 junction.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Talks continue over future of Flybe routes from Birmingham

Talks are continuing over the future of flight routes to and from Birmingham Airport which had been operated by Flybe, after the collapse of the airline.

Flybe
Getty Images

Loganair has announced it will introduce up to three daily services between Birmingham and Aberdeen, along with a daily service to Inverness, from 16 March.

Eastern Airways will offer flights between Aberdeen and Birmingham from next week.

Birmingham Airport's chief executive thanked the carriers and said talks were continuing with others.

It demonstrates that airlines realise the strong Midlands market and we look forward to welcoming these new carriers to Birmingham in the coming weeks. We would reassure customers that we are continuing talks with other airlines to backfill the remaining Flybe capacity

Nick BartonChief executive, Birmingham Airport
Inverness Caledonian Thistle striker James Keatings (centre) leaves the field

Amy MacBeath

BBC Sport Scotland

James Keatings says it "means everything" to be free of suspension for the Challenge Cup final after a Scottish FA tribunal reverses an earlier appeal against his red card.

Read more

Severe accident: A9 Highland both ways

BBC News Travel

A9 Highland both ways severe accident, between A9 and A9.

A9 Highland - A9 in Daviot blocked and queues in both directions between Croy Turn Off and Moy Turn Off, because of an accident involving fuel tanker and snow.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time