People are being encouraged to seek medical help for urgent health issues which are not related to COVID-19.
During the lockdown, patients have been delaying seeing their GP, and there has been a urgent cancer referrals and families getting their children vaccinated.
Call your GP surgery, or 111 out of hours, if you have urgent health concerns. In emergencies dial 999.
The Scottish Government has issued new guidance on face masks.
If you are in situations where it is not always possible to maintain a 2-metre distance e.g. essential travel on public transport or essential food shopping, it is now recommended that you wear a facial covering.
As some people can have the virus but experience no symptoms, wearing a face covering in these situations may provide some level of protection against transmission to other people in close proximity.
A facial covering is not a surgical or other medical grade mask but a covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf. Children under two should not wear facial coverings. All facial coverings should be washed or disposed of carefully.
Please remember that the social distancing, hygiene and staying at home guidance is very important.
PPE for Unpaid Carers
PPE is now available to unpaid carers who are eligible for it. The advice is available here.
If the carers’ centres are unavailable, you can call the Social Care PPE Support Centre on 0300 303 3020.
This week the Scottish Government put forward some general plans for the easing of lockdown restrictions. The UK government is expected to announce its own plans next week. Professor Hugh Pennington voiced support in a Scottish Parliament committee for the isles leading the way in an easing of restrictions as part of a test and trace programme. We called on the Scottish Government to engage with these proposals and to consult with our communities before any changes are made. Safety must be the priority in any such changes, through extra resources for testing.
There is a new service from the Post Office which allows friends and families to be able to withdraw cash for those who are self-isolating and drop it to them securely and safely at their home.
Banks can now send vouchers to customers by text, e-mail or post which they can then share with a trusted individual to withdraw cash at the Post Office on their behalf. All UK Banks, Building Societies and Credit Unions are able to use this service and customers can contact their bank to find out if they have signed up.
More information is available here
Three new funds are now available from the Scottish Government.
- The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund – a £45m fund for viable but vulnerable SME firms who are vital to Scotland’s economy
- The Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund – a £20m fund for small creative, tourism and hospitality companies not in receipt of COVID-19 business rates relief
- The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund – a £35m fund for newly self-employed facing hardship through £2,000 grants
More details of the eligibility criteria and how to apply are available here.
Bounce Back Loans
The Chancellor announced on Monday that small businesses will be able to access a new fast-track scheme. businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within days. The loans will be interest free for the first 12 months. Businesses can apply through an online form and the scheme will be open on 4th May. More information is available here.
Universal Basic Income
This week I raised the issue of a temporary Universal Basic Income for the duration of the coronavirus crisis with the Chancellor, as a way to support those unable to access current measures. The government’s response was disappointing but parties are continuing to raise this issue.
Support for tourism
I have backed a cross-party motion to cut VAT on tourism as a way to support economic recovery from coronavirus. We are looking at other measures to support this and other industries.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has a Coronavirus Hub open to everyone and has employee and employer guides on different policy and practice, a series of webinars as well as a Workforce Planning Toolkit. You can access it here.
Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate. More information here.
Free Training Courses
People who have been furloughed or made redundant can now access thousands of free-to-access online learning materials made available by Skills Development Scotland. Flexible online learning is from 12 different providers across a range of subject areas, such as digital, languages, business and technology. You can find more information here.