Wishart encourages everyone to give a #ThumbsUpForYourPostie

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart is encouraging people to show their appreciation for postmen and women who have been working flat out by giving them a thumbs up.

Royal Mail staff have an important role during the coronavirus pandemic in delivering essentials and helping to keep communities connected. Royal Mail is asking people to show their appreciation by giving a thumbs up to their postie from a safe distance and encouraging children make colourful pictures for their front window.

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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.

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Wishart welcomes peat assurances

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has welcomed government confirmation that peat casting is permitted during the coronavirus lockdown, having written to the seek clarification for concerned constituents.

Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, told Ms Wishart:

“I recognise the importance of peat as a domestic winter fuel source in parts of Scotland, and of the need to begin to cast peat now to ensure adequate personal supplies for next winter.  As long as the published guidance on social distancing is followed, this collection of an essential fuel supply should be permissible.  However, it is also essential that those undertaking this activity follow precautions such as not sharing tools and cleaning them thoroughly after use.”

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Wishart responds to announcement of further support for businesses

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that around £220 million of further grants are being made available to help businesses affected by coronavirus, whilst warning of the economic consequences if gaps remain to be addressed.

In recent weeks, Ms Wishart has been contacted by individuals and businesses from wide variety of sectors who will receive limited support from the Scottish Government or none at all due to the Coronavirus Business Support Fund eligibility criteria.  

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Island supply concerns highlighted in call with ministers

Concerns about island supply chains were highlighted in a call with Scottish Ministers today by isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP, Liam McArthur MSP and Beatrice Wishart MSP.

During a call with Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Minister for the Rural Economy and Tourism, and Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, MSPs and MPs representing island communities across Scotland outlined problems encountered in getting supplies to local businesses and constituents.

Following discussions with local wholesalers, shop owners and constituents over recent days, Mr Carmichael, Mr McArthur and Ms Wishart highlighted some of the difficulties faced getting essential goods to the isles. They urged the Ministers to help apply pressure on suppliers to improve supply chains as well as do more to allow local wholesalers to access support under the various government schemes. Mr Ewing and Mr Wheelhouse welcomed the input from local MSPs and MPs and agreed to keep them updated on their discussions with suppliers and the supermarkets.

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9 April: COVID-19 Update

National Updates

Shielding

Vulnerable people with certain health conditions will receive a letter from NHS Scotland advising them that they are on the shielding list. 

The letter will advise how to register for the national texting service if you wish to receive a weekly delivery of food and medicines alongside other support services. 

Information on those who are considered to be high risk can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-shielding-contacts/pages/highest-risk-classification/

Information on the system can be found here:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-shielding-contacts/.

If you need support with shielding you can contact Shetland Island Council’s shielding support line on 0800 030 8780 or email [email protected]

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Farm and croft support payments welcomed by isles representatives

News today that payments worth £19.1 million have been made to farmers and crofters in remote and rural areas from the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) has been welcomed by isles representatives Alistair Carmichael MP, Beatrice Wishart MSP and Liam McArthur MSP.

Shetland MSP, Beatrice Wishart said:

“Crofters and farmers will be pleased that this financial support is being paid out. It is all the more important at this unprecedented time where we need to make sure that crofting and farming businesses in Shetland remain viable. 

“The Coronavirus crisis has brought into sharp focus how valuable our crofting and farming community is in providing high quality produce. Indeed the benefits of buying local to support our community and reduce food miles are clear to see.”

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Wishart reminds community to only order prescriptions when needed

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart is reminding the community to plan ahead and only order prescriptions when they are needed following news that community pharmacies in Shetland have been receiving double the amount of usual orders.

NHS Shetland Principle Pharmacist, Mary McFarlane, told BBC Radio Shetland last night that pharmacies in Shetland usually receive 300 to 400 prescription requests every day but that had doubled recently with people concerned about their supply and isolation. This has been adding pressure to staff workload and medicine stocks as the international supply chain faces disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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1 April: COVID-19 Update

National Updates

International travel

The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, announced new guidance and measures for people returning from abroad. This included a pledge of £75m to charter flights to places where commercial flights have stopped running. If flights are still running where you are, the government has advised to contact your airline as soon as possible to get on the first available flight. Where routes have been cancelled, the government says the airline has a responsibility to offer alternatives flights. This includes allowing passengers to change tickets, including between carriers.

If you or someone you know is still abroad and are having difficulties in returning to the UK, please get in touch with Alistair’s office.

There have also been reports of airlines refusing to refund tickets where they have been cancelled, sometimes offering vouchers instead. Rules vary internationally, but if your flight began or ended within the EU, you have an explicit right to a full cash refund – our understanding is that this no longer applies to UK-only flights now that we have left the EU. Alistair has written to the Secretary of State for Transport to confirm if the government intends to create a policy on refunds in the future.

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Wishart responds to news that Scottish Government has increased patient transfer capacity

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has welcomed the announcement that Scottish Government has taken action to increase isles patient transfer capacity to the mainland. The update today follows the military transfer of a patient ten days ago from the Gilbert Bain to intensive care in Aberdeen.

Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, announced to Parliament that Epishuttle single isolation pods have been procured for the safety of patients and staff during transfers. The Epishuttles are due to go live in the coming days and that in the meantime the Scottish Ambulance Service is working with the RAF to cover transfers.

On 17 March Ms Wishart sought assurances from the Health Secretary in Parliament that medical evacuations would be carried out safely and efficiently. Ms Freeman replied that challenges had been overcome and the Scottish Ambulance Service would guarantee the transfer of any patient with a clinical need.

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