WE’VE had a brilliant summer of sport so far. Being able to cheer on the Scotland men’s football team at their first appearance at a major international tournament for more than 20 years was a highlight.

It was brilliant to see Andy Murray back at Wimbledon again too, for the first time in four years. And 18-year-old Emma Raducanu proved that she has a bright sporting future ahead of her after winning three rounds at Wimbledon on her Grand Slam debut.

It’s difficult to think of more positive and inspirational role models than the sports stars we have seen in action over the past few weeks. Putting football rivalries to one side, England footballers Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka have shown they are a credit to their sport and their country after facing some horrifying racist abuse on social media after England’s match two weeks ago.

Although it was heartening to see communities across the UK come together to support the young men who faced such abuse, they should never have been forced to read it in the first place. It’s now vital that we see a start to real action from big social media companies when it comes to tackling hateful attacks which can be so easily spread online.

Scotland is not immune to racism. We must be firm in our opposition and condemnation whenever racism, hate, prejudice or bigotry rears its ugly head. The responsibility falls on every single one of us to call it out when we see it – in person or online.

As I said earlier, it’s been nice for us to have an opportunity to cheer on our favourite sports stars in various competitions, and enjoy some really beautiful weather over the last couple of weeks.

With the sunshine offering us more opportunities to relax and spend time outdoors with family and friends, it becomes even more important that we all continue following the official Covid guidance to keep ourselves, and those around us safe.

Covid cases are still high in Scotland right now – but they are on a downward trend. That’s good news, which is why on Monday some restrictions which were previously in place were eased.

Up to eight people from up to four households can now meet indoors at home, up to 200 people can attend weddings and funerals, soft play centres can open, and we have removed the requirement for people visiting pubs and restaurants to book two-hour slots.

These are positive changes, and another step towards returning to normality. The move to Level 0 is not a complete lifting of all restrictions, and we do still need to proceed with care and caution – but I hope that it will restore a little more freedom to all of us.

However, Covid still remains a threat that we must take seriously, and I would add a note of caution to the loosening of some restrictions. To protect others, people will still be required to provide their contact details when visiting a bar, cafe or restaurant to help the test and protect programme, and to wear face coverings, unless they are exempt.

Wearing face coverings is important not just to give added protection to the population as a whole, but to give protection to people who remain vulnerable to the virus and were previously shielding.

Public health measures like social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing your hands and staying outdoors when you can (something made easier when the sun is shining) all still matter too.

By continuing to follow important public health guidance – on face coverings, hygiene and distancing – we are giving protection and assurance to those among us who remain vulnerable to this virus, and we are choosing not to leave those people behind.

It’s also vital that everyone gets vaccinated when they can, especially young people, so that we can keep stopping the spread of the virus and breaking the link between Covid cases, hospitalisations, and deaths.

There are positive signs that vaccines are making a difference, and the success of our vaccination programme continues to give us real hope.

Around two-thirds of 18- to 29-year-olds have now received a first dose of the vaccine, and for those who haven’t, walk-in vaccination centres are now open in all mainland health board areas.

You don’t need an appointment to visit a walk-in centre and you can attend whether you are due a first dose or a second dose, if eight weeks have passed since your first jag. You can also book an appointment at one of these centres on the NHS Inform website.

The drop-in centres will make it easier for young people, who I know lead really busy lives, to get vaccinated as soon as they possibly can.

So, to anyone who hasn’t yet come forward to get vaccinated, please do so.

Getting the jag is still the single most important thing that any of us can do to protect ourselves, and each other, and help us get back to normal life – hopefully something which will happen sooner rather than later.