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Following the announcement yesterday from Prime Minister Boris Johnston of a UK wide lockdown, updated guidance has been provided for businesses and premises of the restrictions being enforced.
According to the updated guidance provided by the UK Government, all non essential businesses must close with some exceptions being given for restaurants or cafes offering takeaway, delivery services, supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices and some other establishments. A full list of exceptions has been released and can be found here.
The new measures outlined by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation include:
Shops selling “non-essential goods” including clothes and electronics stores are to close immediately
Libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship are also to close
Gatherings of more than two people (excluding people who live together) will be banned
There will be no weddings or baptisms but funerals will be allowed
Parks will remain open but people are only to go out to exercise once a day
The Prime Minister added that the people would only be allowed to leave their homes for specific and limited reasons including :
Shopping for “basic necessities”, as infrequently as possible. People should use delivery services, where they can
Medical reasons, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
Travelling to and from work, but only if it is “absolutely necessary”
The above measures will last for three weeks from 23 March before being reviewed and police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings. People are also being told not to meet friends or family members who do not live with them.
Commenting on the latest announcement from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“The absolute priority for all of us is to work together and take the necessary steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Businesses are taking their responsibilities seriously; to our employees, our customers and our communities. These are difficult and challenging times but the message from the Scottish Government and the UK Government is clear – we must stay at home.”
Expanding on the measures set out in last night’s announcement, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon addressed some of the grey areas highlighted by businesses who feel they do not fall into any of the categories in the essential business list.
When addressing Scottish Parliament this afternoon (Tuesday 24th March), regarding the uncertainty about who should be going to work, the First Minister stated the following:
It is employers who should make decisions about who is going into work, it should not be left to employees to worry about.” The Minister added that if staff can work from home, employers should allow them to do so.
For key strategic sites that cannot easily be shut down such as steel works can continue to work if they can maintain safe distancing between staff, and safe operating numbers.
In other businesses, such as Manufacturing and Food and Drink production companies, employers should also ask themselves whether their work is essential to contribute to fighting the Coronavirus such as basic food supplies or medical supplies. Can they can operate in line with safe social distancing practice and normal health and safety? If they cannot answer yes, they should close.
People working alone, providing community services such as gardeners or window cleaners can continue to work.
Advice is available on readyscotland.org for those who wish to volunteer in their community safely.
The minister also confirmed there will be steps to support wages from April and she hopes this will mean businesses will not lay off staff.
The First Minister also confirmed that the applications for the Small Business Grant Scheme are now open and more information on this can be found here.