CORONAVIRUS AND WEST EDINBURGH – UPDATE 3 18/03/2020
See below a new briefing covering all major developments today and the new detailed advice that has been issued on schools, quarantine, support for businesses and welfare. *If you need non-medical help or advice from my office in relation to COVID19 please contact my office via firstname.lastname@example.org. I am getting an unprecedented level of correspondence but I will respond. Several MSPs are already in self isolation, but Parliament will remain open and I will continue to work for you, to pass you information and to respond to your queries for as long as I am well.
The First Minister announced that she expects all schools, and nurseries to close on Friday. They are unlikely to return until many weeks after the Easter holidays so plan on that basis.
If you have a severely compromised immune system, have a chronic heart or lung condition (not including asthma if largely under control) You must self isolate- for 12 weeks from this weekend.
If you are over 70, or have other health issues or qualify for the free annual flu jab, then you are to exercise enhanced social distancing. Limiting meetings with others to the outdoors where possible and maintaining a distance of 2 meters and avoiding all public transport or venues people might gather.
Everyone else, maintain social distancing and avoid all social gatherings. It is advised that all large events of any kind be cancelled.
QUARENTINE AND SELF ISOLATION: NEW GUIDANCE
You MUST self isolate if you have the symptoms of COVID-19 which are a new continuous cough and/or a fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater).
If you live alone and have the virus then you must quarantine for 7 days.
If you live with other people then everyone must all self isolate for 14 days the moment someone anyone in the house develops the symptoms. If someone in the house only falls ill towards the end of that time, they must self isolate for a further 7 days but everyone else can resume their normal routine at the end of the initial 14 days.
When the first person in the house becomes ill, try to keep them away from the rest of the family/flatmates as much as possible, maintaining strict hygiene.
If you have had the virus and recovered, then you won’t catch it again. It is thought that with such immunity, you can assist others in self isolation with limited risk, but watch for future updates in this.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYEES.
The Scottish Government today announced a total replication of all emergency support outlined by the chancellor last night. This is the first of a package of measures that will be announced over the coming days.
Small businesses receiving small business bonus scheme or rural relief will be eligible for a £10,000 grant.
12 months rate relief for properties in hospitality leisure and retail and £25,000 grant for businesses in those sectors with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.
State backed loans, to keep businesses that are profitable normally, in the black until business returns will be made available through the banking system.
I asked the Cabinet Secretary about support being flexible to support companies, charities and sole traders. She confirmed we will work for a solution for everyone (you can see our exchange below)
SOCIAL SECURITY AND NEW HARDSHIP SUPPORT, RENT ISSUES
The Cabinet secretary for communities today announced a range of measures to support those on benefits and at risk of eviction. The government will be making £350Million available to help people in need:
• £50 Million hardship fund available through local authorities
• £45 Million for the Scottish welfare fund to make community care and crisis grants available.
• £70 Million Food fund to support those who may struggle to access food either through income drop or self isolation, including older people
• £50 Million to a Wellbeing fund delivered in partnership with the voluntary sector to help those in social isolation.
• £40 Million Supporting communities fund to support community efforts that are springing up to help each other though this crisis.
• £20 Million to help third sector organisations with cash flow and business continuity.
• £25 in reserve for contingencies.
• £80K to Age Scotland to make 1,500 calls a day to older people in isolation.
• £500,000 to Social bite to provie 3k meals a day to those who are homeless.
Support for those in the rental sector will include changes to legislation to prevent eviction on grounds of rent arrears from 3 to 6 months if the delay to payment has happened as a result of delay in processing benefits. The Scottish Government reminds landlords that the UK government is making provision for mortgage holidays to accommodate this.
SHOPPING AND PRESCRIPTIONS
Most food outlets are experiencing high levels of scarcity and door to door deliveries coming up short on many items. This is due entirely to stockpiling. There is enough food in the country and supply chains are undisrupted so there is no need to stockpile
On the issue of prescriptions: I’ve had this direct from a community pharmacist: prescription requests are huge with people trying to stockpile medication that they have not even run out of yet. This means it is taking much longer to process these requests and could have an impact on the supply of those who are really in need. Please only submit prescriptions you require now. Again, there is no shortage or disruption in the supply chain, but pharmacies can’t cope with demand.