9 June: Covid-19 Update


National Updates

Lockdown

The Scottish Government has published a Route Map document for the easing of lockdown restrictions in Scotland.

It is still important that physical distancing is maintained at all times – staying 2 metres apart – and practice good hygiene.

On 29 May, we entered Phase 1 of the route map. The following measures are now permitted:

  • One household can meet up with another outdoors. This should be only one household within the same day and a recommended maximum of 8 people overall.
  • Outdoor spaces can be used for recreation, for example sitting in parks or having picnics. However people should not share foods between households and avoid using shared facilities.
  • People can travel a short distance for leisure but it is recommended that you stay in your local area and avoid public transport. Some outdoor activities like golf and angling can resume. Recreational boating is also permitted: https://www.shetland.gov.uk/ports/documents/NTM0720.pdf
  • Most outdoor workplaces can resume.
  • The construction sector will move to the first phase of its re-start plan.
  • Restaurants and cades can provide delivery, take-away and drive through food.

On 1 June:

  • Staff can return to schools to prepare for schools to reopen for blended learning on 11 August.
  • Household waste recycling centres begin to reopen.

On 3 June:

  • Childminding services and outdoor nursery provision will be available, subject to increased hygiene and physical distancing

If the police find people on premises flouting these rules, they will offer strong advice for people to stop. However, if you are aged 18 years or over and refuse to follow their instructions you may be issued with a fixed penalty notice.

People who are shielding are being asked to continue to do so for the time being.

The First Minister reiterated that people should not be travelling to and from the isles except when essential, and we have welcomed this reminder.

Further Phase 1 guidance is available here.

Shielding

On 8th June, the First Minister provided an update on shielding. A document has been published on the future plans. You can read it here.

Shielding is to continue until 31 July. However if there is progress in reducing infection rates, people who are shielding will be able to go outside for individual exercise from 18 June.

Entering the UK - Quarantine

From 8 June, if you are travelling to the UK there will be:

  • a requirement for residents and visitors entering the UK from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days
  • the completion of an online passenger locator form by all travellers prior to travel to supply contact details, travel details and the address of where they will self-isolate
  • spot checks at the border by Border Force, who may impose fines on travellers who refuse to comply
  • arrangements for some of those arriving into Scotland to be contacted during their period of self-isolation for the provision of public health advice and information
  • powers for police to impose a fixed penalty notice for anyone failing to comply with the mandatory conditions, with the ability to report persistent offenders to the Procurator Fiscal for potential prosecution

More information is available here.

There are exemptions for essential workers. For example, for “Workers required for the continued safe and secure operation, maintenance and essential support services for offshore oil and gas infrastructure in the UK”. You can find the list of exemptions here.

The measures will be reviewed after three weeks.

Testing

Everyone aged five and over who has COVID-19 symptoms of a new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change in sense of taste or smell should now book a test. 

To book a test, Shetlanders need to complete the self-referral form here. If you can’t access the online form ring 01595 532030 between 09.00 and 12.30 and 14:00 – 17:00 Monday – Friday.

Residents of non-doctor islands should contact their local clinician.

People will need to isolate with their household as soon as they have symptoms and, if they have a positive test result, they will be asked to provide details of all recent close contacts to NHS contact tracers. Those people will be contacted and asked to isolate for 14 days.

NHS

On 30th May, the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, gave an update on the next steps for the health service as we move into Phase 1 of easing lockdown restrictions.

Ms Freeman announced mobilisation plans to safely resume some services. Priority is being given to the following:

  • beginning to safely restart NHS services, covering primary, and community services including mental health
  • phased resumption of some GP services supported by an increase in digital consultations
  • roll out the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service in community pharmacies
  • increase care offered at emergency dental hubs as practices prepare to open
  • increase provision of emergency eyecare in the community
  • considering the introduction of designated visitors to care homes

You can read more about the plans here and patients are to be kept informed by the Health Board as services are resumed. 

Self-Employment Income Scheme and Furlough

Following a cross-party letter of over 100 MPs including Alistair Carmichael, self-employed people whose work has been affected by coronavirus will receive a "second and final" grant in August.  They will be eligible for a second payment in August of up to £6,570.

The Chancellor has also set out how employers will have to start sharing the cost of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. From August they will have to pay National Insurance and pension contributions, and then 10% of pay from September, rising to 20% in October.  Workers will be allowed to return to work part-time from July, but with companies paying 100% of wages.

I am concerned that a lack of flexibility regarding a future extension of SEISS, but all support for struggling businesses is welcome.

You can read the Chancellor’s statement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chancellors-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19-29-may-2020

Employment figures

The latest unemployment claimant figures show a doubling in claimants for April by comparison to the previous year in the Northern Isles. The figures published show 825 claimants in Orkney and Shetland as of April 2020, representing 3% of the 16-64 population.  This figure is 430 higher than April last year and an increase of 260 from March.  The equivalent claimant rate for the UK was 5.1%.

We are fortunate in the isles to continue to have a relatively low rate of unemployment, but that is no reason for complacency.  The jump in figures is a reminder of the long-term impact we face and the need for a recovery plan that looks to the future.

Business Support

Support for B&Bs

The Scottish Government has announced that £3m in funding is to be used to provide support for small B&Bs who were previously ineligible because they didn’t have a business bank account.

Funding will be administered by local authorities and applications are expected to open on 15 June.

Tenants

The tenants and/or occupiers of non-domestic properties such as shared office spaces and industrial units, where they are not the rate payer but evidence they contribute to the charges, may now be eligible for the Scottish Government Business Support Fund.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Sector

Ratepayers with one or more properties in the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure (RHL) sector, whose cumulative rateable value is between £35,001 and £51,000, have, since 2 May, been eligible for the Scottish Government Business Support fund for each qualifying properties with a rateable value not exceeding £18,000.

From 2 June, the total cumulative rateable value range will be amended to £35,001 -£500,000.

School Age Payment

Parents are encouraged to apply for the Best Start Grant School Age Payment. A one-off £250 payment is available for eligible families with a child born between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016 and who is old enough to start Primary One this year. The closing date for applications is 28 February.

More information is available here.

Connect's Parent and Carer Survey

Connect (Scottish Parent Teacher Council) is running a survey on how parents and carers are feeling about their child going back to school or nursery in August, about part-time school ('blended learning') and about how they are getting on in general.

The survey is open until 30 June and you can access it here.

Education and Skills

Skills Development Scotland is holding a series of webinars for school leavers to help them make decisions about their future.

The next webinar is on Thursday 11th June at 3pm. The topic will all be around Interviews, hints & tips, with an emphasis on preparing for video/telephone interviews. A recording will be available shortly after.

The My World of Work website also has information on applying for apprenticeships, college and university courses, student funding etc. Young people can find out more here and speak to an advisor on 0800 917 8000. There is a section too for parents and carers to help you understand what options are available.

Skills for Tomorrow

BT and ITV have partnered to create Top Tips on Tech, a series of videos and guides to help everyone learn about tech and how to use it to make the most of life at home.

You can watch the videos here: https://www.bt.com/tech-tips


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