The current Covid-19 outbreak has led to a huge amount of people getting in touch with me to ask questions about this. I will endeavour to continue to answer these as quickly as I can, however, below is some general advice that may answer your query. Please check these links regularly as information changes and updates quickly. 

General Guidance 

At present everyone living in mainland Scotland must, by law, stay at home unless they have an essential reason to go out. You can read more about what this means here. You can also read more about how these decisions were made and the justification for them here

Daily updates on Covid rates, vaccination uptake and other data are available here.

The Covid-19 vaccination programme is underway, with the first wave covering health and social care workers, care home residents and over-80s. The roll out has now also began to over 70s, who should be completed by mid-February. If you are over 75 you will receive an invite from your GP, if you are 74 or under you will be contacted directly by the health board and invited to a vaccination centre. Once these initial priority groups have been vaccinated, those over 65 will be offered the vaccination along with those under 65 who are at additional clinical risk, before moving on to the wider population over the age of 18. This roll out is being done as quickly as possible given the vaccine supplies available. 

 

The order of prioritisation is set by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. You can read more about the vaccination programme in Scotland here

Unfortunately some scammers are trying to take advantage of people anxious to be vaccinated, please be mindful of this and remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay and the NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details, your PIN or banking password and NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine. You can report any suspicious communications to Police Scotland by phoning 101

The Scottish Government's Test and Protect app can let you know (anonymously and privately) if you've came into contact with someone with Coronavirus - please visit www.protect.scot to find out more.

Face coverings are now mandatory in a number of settings to minimise the risk of you carrying the virus to others. You can read more about this here, however if you are unable to wear a face covering, you can (although you don't have to) request an exemption card here if you'd like something that shows this. 

The latest health advice is available from NHS Inform here. If you develop any coronavirus symptoms (temperature, cough or loss of taste or smell), however mild, you should stay at home and arrange to be tested here. You, and anyone you live with or are in an extended household with, should remain at home until you get the result of the test, and then follow the advice you will be given based on the result.

Further information on current restrictions and ​guidance is available at www.gov.scot

 

Information on local services, including advice on schools, social care and refuse collection is available through your local council, either Scottish Borders Council or Midlothian Council.

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Workplaces and Businesses

The Scottish Government is supporting affected businesses through its Strategic Framework Business Fund. Further guidance for businesses, particularly on other sources of financial support available, can be found at www.findbusinesssupport.gov.scot. You can also contact your local Business Gateway for free, impartial support and advice on your business as well as a number of free online classes and seminars.

Employees must work from home where they are able to do so. Where this is not possible certain businesses must close - you can view a list of what must close and what can stay open here. Businesses can still furlough staff where necessary, you can read more about that here
 

 Advice and support for voluntary and third sector groups during the pandemic is available here.

A £500 payment is being made by the Scottish Government to health and social care staff in recognition of the huge amount that's been asked of them throughout the pandemic - you can read more about this here

 

Employers have a duty to their employees to ensure they are safe and if they are being asked to come into work they must ensure proper precautions are taken in line with the guidance and should consider measures such as staggered start times to allow staff to avoid rush hour travel. The Scottish Government expects employees to be flexible with regards to workers who have caring responsibilities, including childcare.

 

If you feel you are not being treated fairly or are being made to attend work unnecessarily, if you are unionised, speak to your union rep. If you are not unionised ask for written reasons from your employer for their decisions. Even then has a specific risk assessment been undertaken and by whom? You might want to familiarise yourself with S44 of the Employment Rights Act which “provides employee's with the right to withdraw from and refuse to return to a workplace that is unsafe” 

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Please feel free to get in touch with me using the details on my “Contact” tab above if you feel your employer is behaving unfairly despite the above. 

Volunteering and Charities

Advice and support for voluntary and third sector groups during the pandemic is available here.

Students

SAAS advice for students is available here. Your college or university will operate a hardship grant scheme which you may want to consider applying for if you're struggling - contact them directly to discuss how to access this.

Concerns with Paying Bills 

Many people may be concerned about their ability to pay their bills as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Landlords, lenders and utility companies are expected to be flexible during these exceptional times and if you are worried you may be unable to pay a bill contact the company which issued it as soon as possible to discuss this and see if it can reduce or change your payment plan.  

 

​Citizens Advice Scotland can offer free, impartial advice on any issues you might be experiencing and have a number of online resources that may be useful. 

Tenants concerned about their ability to pay rent should contact their landlord as soon as possible to discuss. No one should lose their home as a result of Covid-19 and the Scottish Government have suspended evictions as a result of rental arrears in light of this for both private and social tenants. You can get free advice on any housing issues through Shelter Scotland.

For urgent, unplanned issues you can also apply for a crisis grant or a community care grant though your local council - more details on this are available here.

Additional Wellbeing Support

The Scottish Government has set up a free hotline for vulnerable people living alone with no family or local support. The helpline will put them in touch with the local authority who can help with things like food or medication needs and you can reach it on 0800 111 4000

The current situation around COVID-19, including concerns around social distancing, is an understandable cause of anxiety and distress for many people, please do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it. The Scottish Government has provided additional funding for mental health services in light of this - as a first port of call visit www.breathingspace.scot or phone your GP to discuss your concerns.

Content promoted by Marshall Douglas, on Behalf of Christine Grahame both at PO Box 13827, Innerleithen, EH45 6AN

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