19 June: Covid-19 Update


National Updates

National Alert Level

Today the four Chief Medical Officers of the UK downgraded the national alert level from 4 to 3, indicating that the virus remains "in general circulation" but there can be a "gradual relaxation of restrictions". Put simply, there is still a risk of outbreaks but there has been a sustained drop in the number of cases. It is worth noting that the alert level is a general indicator of the state of the pandemic but is not directly linked to any particular policy changes (see below).

Lockdown

On 18 June, the First Minister announced further changes to lockdown restrictions. There is to be a gradual introduction of Phase 2 of the route map out of lockdown.

From Friday 19 June:

  • Those advised to shield will be able to take part in non-contact activities such as golf, and meet members of another household outdoors, up to a suggested maximum of eight people. Strict physical distancing and hygiene should be followed at all times.
  • A household not shielding can meet two other households, outside, up to a suggested maximum of eight people in the group
  • Those visiting another household in a private garden will be permitted to use the household toilet. This does not include a household of someone who is shielding
  • Single person households, including single parents households with children under the age of 18, will be able to form an extended household with another
  • People should continue to stay in their local area as much as possible and should not travel more than around five miles for leisure or recreation

From Monday 22 June:

  • Construction sector to implement remaining stages of their own phased return
  • Dental practices open to see patients with urgent care needs
  • Resumption of professional sport, following public health advice
  • Places of worship open for individual prayer and contemplation
  • Limited College and University staff return for essential preparations for re-opening in Phase 3
  • Mandatory face coverings on public transport
  • Accommodation can be provided for workers whose workplaces are open in the relevant phase and who need to stay away from home for work

From Monday 29 June:

  • Indoor non-office workplaces (including factories, warehouses and labs) can resume once relevant guidance is implemented. This does not include non-essential office, call-centre, culture, leisure and hospitality premises
  • Restrictions of house moves relaxed
  • Public gardens and zoos can open but should remain limited to local access only in this phase
  • Outdoor sports courts reopen
  • Playgrounds can reopen
  • Registration offices can open for priority tasks
  • Marriages and civil partnerships allowed with minimal attendees outside
  • Street-access retail can re-open once guidance is implemented. Interiors of shopping malls/centres remain closed for non-essential shops until Phase 3
  • Reintroduction of some chronic disease management
  • Phased resumption of some screening services
  • Phased safe resumption of essential optometry and ophthalmology services
  • Outdoor markets can reopen once guidance is implemented

You can read more about these changes here.

Business Support

There are still businesses that have not applied for the Coronavirus Business Support Grant. The closing date for the fund is 10 July 2020

Tenants

Tenants of premises such as shared offices and industrial units may be eligible for a £10,000 small business grant.

  • You must have been in occupation of the premises and have a valid lease signed by the landlord prior to 17 March 2020;
  • You must have employed one or more staff (not including yourself or a partner/director) on 17 March 2020;
  • Your business must be a partnership or company registered with Companies House on or prior to 17 March 2020;
  • You must use a business bank account;
  • You must not have previously received support from any of the other government schemes (apart from the Furlough scheme)

Bed and Breakfasts

The Coronavirus Bed and Breakfast Fund is open for applications. The fund is to provide support for Bed & Breakfast and other Small Serviced Accommodation businesses who have not been able to access support through other schemes as a result of banking status.

Applicants will need to have a personal bank account (not a business bank account), been in business for at least a year, at least 35% of income must be from the affected business, be a member or accredited to a recognised hospitality, tourism agency, or representative body.

Frequently Asked Questions

Childcare

Scottish Liberal Democrats have a launched a campaign calling on the Scottish Government to rethink its approach to childcare. If you are required to work you should get the childcare you need.

More businesses will be opening in June and July but schools will only be returning in August. Even when they do some children will be at home for up to four days during the week under so-called ‘blended learning.

Other childcare – childminders, private nurseries, family and friends – are all still restricted by the Scottish Government.

Travel to the Mainland

We know that some constituents are frustrated that they are unable to visit family and friends on the Mainland.

The Scottish Government published the following guidance on 18 June:

Non-essential travel to and from the islands continues to be discouraged to prevent spreading the virus to more remote communities.

In line with the guidance that people should not travel more than 5 miles for leisure or recreation, travel to the islands for those reasons is not encouraged.

Travelling to and from islands to visit family would be acceptable within this guidance, but individuals should consider whether they can do so while acting in line with all other guidance.

Ferry capacity will be increased throughout this phase, but capacity will remain limited.

Connectivity

We have received correspondence in recent weeks from people concerned about internet access. The crisis has been a reminder of how much further we have to go to get adequate connectivity in the isles – something which needs to be seen as an essential, not a luxury, especially in light of the increased need to work and study from home.

Beatrice and Alistair have written to the Culture Secretary this week to ask for further action to improve connectivity as a positive legacy of the crisis. Beatrice has also written to the Scottish Government on the same issues.


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