30 March: Volunteering during coronavirus pandemic

While the most important ask for the public remains to stay at home and follow the essential public health guidance, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need. People who want to share their kindness with others can register as a Community Reserve Volunteer (CRV) and be part of Scotland-wide preparations to protect the NHS, support people in need and help save lives.

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Wishart responds to Chancellor’s announcement on support for self-employed

Responding to the news that the Chancellor has announced that eligible self-employed people can access a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said:

“Many self-employed people have contacted me with real worries about paying household bills and keeping their businesses afloat at this time. It is a relief that pressure colleagues and I across parties have put on both the UK Government and Scottish Governments has begun to make a difference.

“There are countless successful businesses in Shetland which must not be driven to closure simply because they cannot access financial support. These businesses will be crucial to the recovery of the local and national economy when this crisis comes to an end.

“It is now important that the scheme gets up and running quickly and is easy to navigate and that any gaps that are identified are closed. I would encourage anyone who feels like they will not be able to access support to get in touch.”

25 March: COVID-19 Update

Latest Advice

You may only leave your home for the following reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, which should only happen once a day (use food delivery services where you can);
  • 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 essential work but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

Emergency legislation will give powers of enforcement to back up the measures on social distancing and premises closures.

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£2.2 billion for business

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop has addressed the Scottish Parliament on the economic impact of COVID-19 in Scotland.

In her statement she warned that as a result of coronavirus, the Scottish economy is facing an immediate collapse in demand.

She outlined the actions being taken by the Scottish Government to support businesses including a package of measures worth £2.2 billion from 1 April:

  • 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
  • First Minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board
  • urging local authorities to relax 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
  • halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill
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Helping communities affected by Covid-19

The Scottish Government has announced a £350 million fund to support welfare and wellbeing.

The funding will be made available to councils, charities, businesses and community groups and designed to be flexible, cutting down on red tape to enable them to respond swiftly and according to local need for people impacted economically or through reduced contact with society, including anyone struggling to access food.

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Intensive Care Transfers raised in Holyrood

Following a question from Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart, the Scottish Health Secretary has today confirmed island patients with COVID-19 who need intensive care will be transferred to the mainland by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Ms Wishart asked the Health Secretary for reassurances that medical evacuations for island patients needing intensive care on the mainland will be carried out safely and efficiently.

The Health Secretary replied that the Scottish Ambulance Service “will ensure the transfer of any patient from any of our islands who has clinical need to do so.” Ms Freeman confirmed that concerns regarding fixed wing aircraft and personal protective equipment have been resolved and that the Scottish Ambulance Service held a conference call with Chief Executives from Highlands and Islands Health Boards on Friday to produce plans for these circumstances, including the possible use of ferries and road transport.

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17 March: COVID-19 Update

The Scottish Government has published the following advice on limiting social contact to slow the spread of COVID-19. The general public are being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact.

People over 70 and those who have high risk and underlying health conditions are being strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact. Those under 70 underlying health conditions are all those eligible for the flu vaccine. Those who have compromised immune systems will be contacted with specific advice in the coming days

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16 March - COVID-19 Update

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Shetland has increased to 15 this afternoon.

Support for Self-Isolation Shetland - Coronavirus has been set up on Facebook to support people who are in self-isolation

I’ve spoken with some people in the business community today to discuss the challenges of coronavirus. If you are a business or an individual please don’t hesitate to get in touch via Beatrice.Wishart.msp@parliament.scot or on 01595 690 044 / 01313 486 296.

From today, SIC Housing will only respond to emergency and urgent repair calls. The Repairs Helpdesk contact number is 01595 744399. Community Housing Support will not be carrying out home visits but contact will be maintained via phone. New referrals will be restricted at this time. People should only visit the office at 6 North Ness if they need to make emergency homeless applications.

The BBC and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has issued a joint statement announcing a delay to charges to over 75s TV licence fees until 1 August.

Northlink Ferries has published an update for passengers, available here. Prior to checking in passengers will be asked if they have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature. If so, travel will be refused. Bookings can be amended by contacting Northlink on 0845 6000 449 or 01856 885500 or email reservations@northlinkferries.co.uk


COVID-19 and Support for Businesses

In response to understandable concerns from the business community about the potential effect of Covid-19 on viability, the Scottish Government has now issued the following statement on support that will be made available.

£320 million package of support for businesses
Immediate action in response to COVID-19.

New measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland have been announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

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Statement on the COVID-19 Situation in Shetland

I recognise that there is considerable anxiety within the Shetland community regarding the spread of COVID-19. I have sought assurances from and listened to advice and updates from various officials and organisations, including NHS Shetland, Shetland Islands Council, the Scottish Health Secretary, Loganair, Lerwick Port Authority, and Oil and Gas UK.

Whilst the situation is understandably concerning, we must be guided in our actions by scientific advice. Certain measures are most effective when deployed at the right time.

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