17 April: COVID-19 Update

National Updates

Additional Funding for Businesses

The Scottish Government has announced additional support for businesses affected by coronavirus.

The new package of measures includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.

A further £100 million fund is being made available to self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses. The fund will be channelled through local authorities and enterprise agencies to target newly self-employed people and businesses who are ineligible for other Scottish Government or UK Government schemes. 

Applications for the £100 million fund will be open by the end of the month, and the new arrangements for the Small Business Grant will be in place to receive applications on 5 May.

If you are unsure whether your business will qualify, contact Business Gateway Shetland at [email protected]

We are continuing to pursue remaining business support issues, like the lack of support for businesses registered at a domestic address.

Furlough Scheme

The furlough scheme has been extended and will now include people employed up to the 19th of March, the day before the scheme was announced. The government has also now extended the end date of the scheme by another month in light of the continued lockdown restrictions.

Employers can now claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before this date. This means more people will be eligible, including some seasonal workers who were previously excluded.

More information can be found here.

Business Interruption Insurance

A number of constituents have been in touch regarding issues with business insurance. We are sending a joint letter to the Association of British Insurers regarding these issues and to request a review of their practices in light of this unprecedented crisis. We hope to update you further on this soon.

Support for Aquaculture

Further support was announced on the 15th of April. Shellfish and trout businesses that can demonstrate severe financial hardship because of COVID-19, for example because of a lack of export food markets, will be eligible for grants of up to £27,000.

Grant payments will cover two months and be equivalent to 50% of the average monthly gross revenue from sales of aquaculture products in 2019 of each business.

More information can be found here

Helpline for Vulnerable People

A helpline has been set up for those who do not have family or existing community support and cannot get online.

This is in addition to localised support that is available for those who have received shielding letters.

The number is 0800 111 4000.

If you call the helpline, you will be automatically connected to your local authority, who will help you to access the service you need.

Those services include:

  • Essential food and medication
  • Contact with local volunteer groups.
  • Emotional support, or
  • Links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults

Mental Health support

As the lockdown continues, more people may start to find that they are struggling with their mental health.

However, there is help available even though you’re staying inside.

Breathing Space provides a confidential helpline, and can be contacted over the phone on 0800 838587, or via their website: https://breathingspace.scot/

There will also be further guidance on how to look after your mental health on NHS Inform, which can be found here.

The Distress Brief Intervention programme has also been expanded so that it operates nationwide. This means people over the age of 16 who are in emotional distress due to COVID-19 have the opportunity to speak to specially trained staff within 24 hours of referrals by frontline staff, including NHS24.

Support services for domestic abuse

Support services are continuing to operate in Shetland. If you are scared or worried, please do not hesitate to contact them. In an emergency call the police on 999.

Shetland Rape Crisis

01595 747174 (9am – 1:30 pm, Monday to Thursday), or [email protected]. A national free helpline is also available 6pm - midnight every night on 08088 01 03 02.

Shetland Women’s Aid

01595 692070, or mobiles 07867 300 565 or 07810 796 556. Phone calls/texts will be answered as soon as possible – generally staff will be available 9-12 every weekday.

Scottish Domestic Abuse And Forced Marriage Helpline 24 HOUR:

0800 027 1234.

More information can be found at https://www.safershetland.com/domestic-abuse.

Local Updates

New School Term

Parents and carers who require support or advice for their children’s remote learning should contact their school.

Parents and carers should contact their school if they do not have access to a mobile device in their home so that the SIC can look into possible support.  There are also areas of Shetland with limited access to broadband and connectivity and, where this is the case, alternative arrangements for remote learning are in place. 

Support and guidance on remote learning for staff, pupils, and parents and carers is also available on the Shetland Digital School Hub, available here.


The Scottish Government has confirmed that cast peat and hiring workers for that role is permitted provided social distancing and hygiene measures are adhered to.

What to do if you have symptoms

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are a new continuous cough and/or a fever/high temperature.

If you have symptoms that are causing serious concern call NHS 24 on 111.

If you have mild symptoms or require more information visit www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus or call the special helpline on 0800 028 2816. If you require a sick note due to coronavirus, you can get this from the NHS Inform website.


Phone Surgeries

Alistair will be running a phone surgery on Mondays and Thursday between 13.00 and 14.00, for the next few weeks. Call the Orkney constituency office on 01856 876 541 (for both Orcadians and Shetlanders) and leave your name and number, Alistair will call you back as soon as he can.

Beatrice will be running a phone surgery on Tuesdays between 12.30 and 13.30. Call the Shetland constituency office on 01595 690 044 and leave your name and number, Beatrice will call you back as soon as she can.

You can email us at:

[email protected]
[email protected]

Phone: 01595 690 044





Shetland Parliamentary Office, 171 Commercial St, Lerwick, ZE1 0HX

We will get back to you as soon as we can.

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