Signs, symptoms, self-isolation and social distancing
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are a new continuous cough and/or a fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater). These symptoms are likely to stay mild, but if they worsen or do not improve after 7 days, you are asked to dial NHS 24 on 111. Please do not call your GP or go to the surgery.
If you have developed any of these symptoms, or are worried you might have the virus, the NHS has developed a guide which can be found here: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19
Anyone developing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, however mild, should stay at home for 7 days from the onset of symptoms. Anyone living in the same household as the person with symptoms should self-isolate for 14 days. If they develop symptoms within the 14 days, they need to stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms began. Details on what self-isolation means can be found here: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19#stay-at-home-advice.
Everyone is being instructed to participate in social distancing to reduce interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Particularly stringent social distancing is important for more vulnerable people including those who:
- Are over 70
- Have an underlying health condition
- Are pregnant
Every time you think about meeting up with or coming into physical contact with other people, ask yourself if it is really necessary. If it is not necessary, do not do it. Don’t go shopping except for essential items, such as food and medicine, and when you do keep to the 2 metre rule.
Vulnerable people and shielding
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms and the highest risk of fatalities in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
200,000 people in Scotland will be contacted by NHS Scotland during the week beginning 23rd March. These are people who have:
- specific forms of cancer
- severe respiratory conditions
- rare diseases
- received organ transplants
- congenital heart disease
- are on certain types of immunosuppression therapy
- are pregnant and have a heart condition
They will be asked to stay home and avoid outside contact for 12 weeks.
Any care services that are set up will continue.
More information on shielding measures can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
For more information:
- Age Scotland’s free, confidential helpline is available on 0800 12 44 222 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.
- Specific information for those who are pregnant can be found here: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covi
- Specific information for those suffering from cancer can be found here: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/get-help/physical-help/cancer-and-coronavirus
- Specific information for those who have diabetes can be found here: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus
Social restrictions and Venue Closures
You may only leave your home for the following reasons:
- Shopping for basic necessities, which should only happen once a day.
- One form of exercise a day, like a run, walk or cycle, either alone or with members of your household.
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
You should not meet friends or family members other than for essentials, and should do this as little as you can. You should use food delivery services where you can.
Social events must not take place, including weddings and christenings. Funerals may be take place, but even they are restricted to immediate family only.
Gatherings of more than two people will no longer be allowed to happen.
All non-essential premises must close.
Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal. Takeaway services may remain open in line with health guidance.
Parks will remain open only for individuals and households to exercise once a day.
As a minimum, these measures will be in place until the Easter weekend, at which point they will be reviewed.
If the police find people on premises flouting these rules, the police will offer strong advice for people to stop. Within days they will be able to follow that up with enforcement, which is likely to take the form of a fine.
Employment and the safety net
Statutory Sick Pay
You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. To check your sick pay entitlement, you should talk to your employer, and visit the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) page for more information.
Proof of sickness
If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS online, rather than visiting a doctor. Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.
Zero hours contracts
If you are on a PAYE scheme and you have regular earnings you may be covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The UK Government will be publishing more guidance on this shortly.
If you don't qualify under the new arrangements you may also be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.
For those that have recently become unemployed, you can find information on how to claim support here: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
Social security increases
For those in receipt of support through the social security system, the Chancellor announced on 20th March:
- There will be an immediate increase to Universal Credit of £1000 per year.
- There will be an immediate increase to Working Tax Credit of £1000 per year.
Council tax reduction
The Council Tax Reduction scheme provides low income households with a reduction in their Council Tax liability. For more information please see: https://www.mygov.scot/council-tax/discounts-exemptions-and-reductions/
Cutting off pre-payment meters has been completely suspended during the coronavirus outbreak.
For energy supply advice, please see: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-and-your-energy-supply
Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) has suspended sale and eviction from property in ongoing bankruptcy administrations until further notice in response to the pandemic, covering the vast majority of bankruptcy cases in Scotland. For more information please see: https://www.gov.scot/news/supporting-those-affected-by-debt/
Sources of independent impartial and free advice
Citizens Advice Scotland: https://www.cas.org.uk/ or Citizen's Advice Shetland Bureau: 01595 694 696 / email@example.com
Money Advice Service: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
You can now access universal credit in full at the rate of statutory sick pay. For more details please see: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-universal-credit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus
For income tax self-assessment, payments due on the 31 July will be automatically deferred until 31 January 2021.
Advice for those who are self-employed can be found here: https://www.bgateway.com/resources/advice-for-self-employed-people-who-need-to-make-a-new-claim-for-financial-support-due-to-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
If you require more immediate financial support and intervention, please contact your own bank or creditors in the first instance. Short term extensions to overdrafts or other solutions may be available until the following government measures are in place. Please consider your options carefully and please hang in there - we are trying to get help to you.
The UK Government’s support for business was announced on 20 March. Full details are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses.
The Chancellor has asked that no employer shed any staff in light of these commitments.
The package announced by the Chancellor included:
- The creation of a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will see any employer in any sector, be it a commercial enterprise, charity etc, able to apply to HMRC for it to pay 80% if the salary of any employee who is unable to work as a result of the pandemic, either through illness, self-isolation or furlough (a leave of absence).
HMRC will pay the salary of each employee up to a cap of £2,500 per month. This will pay for any number of employees in each organisation.
It will be backdated to the beginning of March. It will initially be available for 3 months but this is also open to extension for as long as the crisis lasts.
- If your business needs short-term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. These loans will be available from 23 March 2020 and will be interest free for 12 months. More information can be found here: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme-cbils/
- To help business’ cash flow the UK Government will defer the next quarter of VAT (up to end of June) until January 2021.
Scottish businesses should pay attention to what is announced by the Scottish Government as well as the UK Government.
The Scottish Government has also already announced some business support measures. These include:
- a 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020 (this differs from the relief in England of 100% up to £51,000 RV)
- an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19 (sectors still to be determined)
- 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
- a fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020
Further measures announced on the 18th of February:
- a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
- £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
- £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
- 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
- the relaxing of planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways
- extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022
Scottish businesses can call a new advice helpline on 0300 303 0660.
Information can also be found here through the Business Gateway: https://www.bgateway.com/news/guidance-for-business-owners-in-scotland-on-coronavirus-covid-19?fbclid=IwAR2GmwpYdnuCUivSAjQezwLefilkJRDFjwxyl9l6pYtD_gcj94awSKgQNy4
The Federation of Small Businesses has created a dedicated business support hub, containing a wide range of useful, constantly updated information. This is open to all businesses, non-members included https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html
On the 17th of March, the Chancellor announced that for those in financial difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer a three-month mortgage holiday. You should contact your lender to arrange this. More information can be found here: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/mortgage-payment-holidays
Local authority providers have been told by the Scottish Government that they must be flexible and should not raise eviction proceedings against anybody affected by the coronavirus crisis.
The Scottish Government have said that they will temporarily change legislation so that people who haven’t paid rent for up to six months (as opposed to the current three) will not be evicted, if their non-payments are because of a delay in receiving benefits.
If you do become unemployed then they should proceed to apply for social security assistance as per the advice and instructions above.
Schools and nurseries
All schools will close from Friday the 20th of March until further notice. Alternative childcare provision will be set up for children of key workers, and for children who are identified as vulnerable.
In Shetland, key workers are:
Category 1 – Health and Care workers directly supporting COVID response, and associated staff; Health and Care workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; Energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning for other category 1 staff.
Category 2 – All other Health and Care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (e.g Fire, Police, Prisons, Social Workers, etc), as well as those supporting our Critical National Infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.
Category 3 – All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised)
If one parent is a key worker and the other is not, the non-key worker should normally be expected to provide childcare.
Email ELC@shetland.gov.uk to request a Critical Childcare Registration Form. Completed forms should be returned to the inbox by 11.00am each Friday for prioritisation for the following week.
Arrangements will be made at a local authority level to ensure children who qualify for school meals can continue to be able to access healthy nutritious food.
All exams have been cancelled this year. An alternative but credible certification model is being developed by the SQA so that those who were due to receive grades this year will get the credit they are due.
The SQA has said that it will work to ensure that learners receive their results no later than 4 August, as planned. The SQA has also stated that it is considering more fully the impact these changes will have on its exceptional circumstances and post-results services.
Support for parents and carers
The Scottish Government have created a hub for support and information, which can be found here: https://www.parentclub.scot/topics/health/coronavirus.
Parentline is available free of charge via phone, email, webchat or text for all parents and carers in Scotland. Skilled and fully qualified staff will be on hand to talk through anything that families are worried about, seven days a week: 9am-9pm during the week and 9am-12pm at the weekend.
This service can provide help and support, including money advice, for parents and carers to talk about anything from behavioural challenges and concerns, bedtime routines, mental health worries and coping with changes to routines, including being at home for longer periods of time and helping families through schools and nurseries closures.
Current advice is to stay at home as much as possible to avoid unnecessary social contact. Therefore you should not travel unless you really have to.
If you do have to travel, you should check the latest advice.
UK Government advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/travel-advice-foreign-secreatary-statement-17-march-2020
NHS Scotland have advice here: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/disease-prevention-advice/coronavirus-disease-covid-19
There are some countries you shouldn’t go to. The World Health Organisation are publishing daily situation reports that describe the situation in each country. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
If you already have a holiday booked it’s worth checking guidance from your travel agent, airline or other holiday provider. You might be able to rebook your holiday for a later date.
If you need to cancel your holiday because you’re ill or you’re following government advice, get in touch with your travel insurer to see if you’re covered for cancelling.
Consumer Advice Scotland may be useful in these circumstances: https://www.consumeradvice.scot/
UK Citizens Abroad
MSPs and MPs both have established links to assist constituents in need of consular assistance overseas. Please get in touch with their offices
To ensure you are able to access consular assistance, we recommend you contact the local British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate General on their urgent support number. You can find this number by googling ‘UK in [country]’ If you are able to, we would encourage a friend or family member also contacting the FCO via 02070081500 to raise the matter.
Loganair are reducing flights from the week beginning 23rd March, with an emergency timetable for April and May.
For Sumburgh, there will be two daily services to/from Edinburgh via Kirkwall and two daily services to/from Aberdeen. Glasgow and Inverness services suspended until 31 May. Launch of seasonal Bergen services delayed until mid-June.
Inter-island ferries will operate a Saturday timetable until further notice,
Northlink Ferry services will be only for those who live on our islands and/or have an essential need to travel to or from the mainland and for essential supplies or business. More information can be found here: https://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/