Covid-19 Virus Update
A list of useful links can be downloaded here.
This is the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes and the measures we take to deal with it must reflect its magnitude.
The changes we are asking people to make are difficult, but absolutely essential to help us slow down the spread of the virus as much as we can.
Effectively, Scotland is now in lockdown.
Staying at home has become the only way of slowing the spread of this virus and giving our NHS to chance to cope and save lives.
These measures will last initially for three weeks – until Easter Weekend – when there will be a review.
The only permissible reasons for leaving your homes are as follows:
To shop for basic necessities – but only once a day, at the most;
To take exercise, alone or with your household, not in groups and no more than once a day;
For medical reasons, for yourself or if providing care or to support for a vulnerable person;
To travel to essential work if it absolutely cannot be done from home.
All non-essential retail should also now be closed.
All social events and public gatherings of two or more people – excluding households or for essential work related purposes – are banned.
Communal places such as libraries and playgrounds must close.
Places of worship should close, other than for funerals, which must be restricted to immediate family.
Children under 18 can continue to move between households – but they should take hygiene and social distancing precautions.
Those with caring responsibilities, or who work in care – should carry them out, but follow distancing measures as much as possible and hand hygiene.
The first port of call for anyone looking for information is the NHS Inform website www.nhsinform.scot
Those with mild symptoms do not need to be tested. They should continue to stay at home for seven days and only telephone their GP or 111 if their condition worsens during that period.
Health and social care staff are on the frontline and it is vital that they know if they have the virus or if they are healthy and able to return to work.
The Scottish Government is working with the UK Government to support implementation so that the new tests can be introduced as quickly as possible in Scotland.
This will support the significant programme of testing the NHS already has underway.
That programme of testing is being increased in response to the scientific advice given the stage of the infection curve we are in.
The Scottish Government is focusing on testing those in hospital and key workers.
The Scottish Government is working to expand capacity in our laboratories to enable up to 3,000 tests per day, up from current capacity of 780 tests per day.
NHS guidance to support the use of testing capacity in laboratories not needed for essential care has been published.
The Scottish Government will ensure that all NHS staff know exactly what the testing arrangements will be and how they can access them.
Surveillance testing is also being scaled up which will give us a more accurate picture of how the infection is spreading in certain areas.
This will inform future handling of measures, such as the current social distancing requirements.
Community testing will continue to be dependent on circumstances. For example where specific situations require it, such as an outbreak in a nursing home.
Advice For People With Symptoms
The first port of call for anyone looking for information is the NHS Inform website www.nhsinform.scot.
Those with mild symptoms do not need to be tested.
If somebody has symptoms of Covid-19, a persistent cough or a fever, they should isolate themselves for seven days.
In addition, anyone else in a household where someone has symptoms, should isolate for 14 days.
That covers the 7 days for which the first person is infectious, and a further 7 days to see if they or anyone else gets the virus.
If patients with coronavirus symptoms that worsen or don’t go away after 7 days, they should dial NHS24 on 111 – day or night - not their GP.
Callers to the 111 helpline will be assessed and if necessary transferred to a community hub.
Anyone without Covid-19 symptoms looking for general information should phone NHS Scotland’s free helpline on 0800 028 2816. The helpline is open from 8.00am to 10.00pm each day.
Employees and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
The STUC recently Tweeted, "Has your boss asked you to change your contract during the #COVID19 crisis? Maybe to zero hours or shorter hours? The reason they have asked you is you are allowed to say NO."
The UK Government has announcement that the self-employed can apply for a grant worth 80% of average monthly profits (up to £2,500 a month).
However, there are serious concerns about how long people will have to wait for payment.
Employers should make decisions about what is essential work - it should not be up to employees decide whether or not they should go in to work.
Workers should not be placed under unnecessary and unacceptable pressure regarding their terms and conditions.
It is vital that all businesses act responsibly and align fully with the social distancing measures introduced to protect the nation’s heath.
Further guidance for employers has been prepared – this is published on the Scottish Government website.
Companies that have decided to lay off staff must now reconsider, and where possible, should halt or reverse their decision. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provides the certainty that many businesses need – they will have money to pay people’s wages.
The Scottish Government has announced a £2.2bn package of support to help sustain businesses and, crucially, help them pay staff and treat staff fairly. The package of measures to be delivered during the 2020-21 financial year include:
100% Non-Domestic Rates relief for all retail, hospitality and leisure sectors;
1.6% Non-Domestic Rates relief for all properties across Scotland;
All small businesses that receive the small business bonus scheme or rural relief will be eligible for a £10,000 grant.
£25,000 grants to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for those with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.
The application process for these schemes is now open and being administered through local authorities.
On top of that, steps have been taken to effectively halt the inflationary increase in business rates that was due in April.
A package worth £60m has been agreed with the water industry to help businesses facing difficulties with water charges during the outbreak.
Creative Scotland launched a £2m fund to help artists and freelancers with grants of between £500 and £2,500. Applications open on today (30 March).
The Scottish Government has also established an advice services, businesses are encouraged to access the website: www.findbusinesssupport.gov.scot.
People should shop sensibly and with consideration for everyone needing to access key goods and products.
The Scottish Government is working closely with supermarkets, shops and suppliers to ensure the continued supply of products to all areas of the country. This includes supplies to our rural and island communities.
The Scottish Government has agreed with councils that restrictions on delivery hours should be relaxed to help supermarkets and shops remain stocked.
In response to pressure on supply chains, the UK Government has agreed to a temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of drivers’ hours.
There are already significant protections in place for private renters – and action has been taken to extend them.
Since 2017, legislation in Scotland already ensures landlords cannot begin repossession until the tenant is in 3 months of arrears.
The Scottish Government will bring forward emergency temporary legislation to extend this period to 6 months.
Housing tribunals are not sitting at present, so no proceedings could be taken forward at this time.
Legislation does not – at present – cover social landlords; however there is expectation they will respond responsibly. Urgent action would take place if this is not the case.
Below is a list of dedicated supermarket hours for elderly/vulnerable people and NHS workers: -
Monday, Wednesday & Friday (9 - 10am) - Elderly and vulnerable customers.
Sunday - (hour ahead of normal opening hours) - NHS staff (with valid ID).
Monday, Wednesday & Friday (8-9am) - Elderly and disabled customers, as well as carers.
Monday - Saturday (7.30-8am) NHS and social care workers (with valid ID).
Monday - Saturday (7.30-8am) - NHS and social care workers.
**Morrisons are yet to introduce specific shopping hours for elderly/vulnerable customers but they are offering a food box service for people who can’t get a delivery slot. Shoppers pay one single price for a box full of shopping, which includes all the essentials, and elderly cudtomers will be given priority.
Wednesday & Friday (8-9am) - NHS workers
**Asda are yet to introduce specific shopping hours for elderly customers but will be assisting the most vulnerable get access to its online delivery service.
Monday-Sunday (first hour of trade) - Elderly and vulnerable customers.
Monday-Saturday (8-9am) Elderly and vulnerable customers.
Monday-Saturday (last hour of trade) - NHS workers.
Monday & Thursday (first hour of trade) Elderly and vulnerable customers.
Tuesday & Friday (first hour of trade) NHS workers.
Monday - Sunday (first hour of trade) Elderly and vulnerable customers, and carers.
Sunday (8.30-9am) NHS and emergency service workers will get priority at check-outs.