SUPPORT AND ADVICE
This is an anxious and uncertain time, but please do contact the constituency office if you have any questions or concerns.
Or phone on 01856 876541
Meantime, I hope you find the following practical advice and information helpful.
COMMUNITY MUTUAL AID GROUPS
Community Facebook Groups now exist to coordinate aid and support for people who fall ill or are more vulnerable. Orkney CV Mutual Aid Group is one specific group, but other community groups are offering similar support. If you would like help out, please get in touch or visit Orkney CV Mutual Aid Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/505271343691687/
A full list of local groups can be found below:
Deerness and Toab- https://www.facebook.com/groups/635685636997993/?ref=share
South Ronaldsay and St Margaret’s Hope- https://m.facebook.com/groups/252395312425310 group_view_referrer=profile_browser
IF YOU FEEL UNWELL
If you have symptoms consistent with COVID19: Fever, shortness of breath and or a persistent cough you must stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days. Only call 111 (NHS 24) or your GP if you are in an at-risk group (older people/other health problems) or if your symptoms worsen dramatically.
After 7 days, if you feel better and no longer have a high temperature, you can return to your normal routine. If you have not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, you should contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. (the 14 day requirement from the WHO is for those who have been exposed to the virus but are not yet showing symptoms)
The cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean you must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.
If you want to know more about the scientific advice to government, you can find more at the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies:
If a case is suspected, it won’t be tested routinely. Testing will be conducted on a sample basis to gauge infection levels within communities.
Following reports on social media about the use of ibuprofen if you have coronavirus, I sought clarification from NHS Orkney. The following information was sent to me by NHS Orkney on the 18th March.
‘There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse. But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you. If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.’
Here is a link to some information - https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/ibuprofen-for-adults/
The UK Government has since announced the following support for the economy and people. The Chancellor has also said that more measures will soon be announced on personal finances. The Scottish Government has announced a total replication of all emergency support outlined by the Chancellor. This is the first of a package of measures that will be announced over the coming days. The steps include:
-An initial £330 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of UK GDP.
-Support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge Coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
-Increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
-Providing £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cashflow. These are the English measures, but similar Scottish measures will be announced by the Scottish Government soon.
- giving all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months
- increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000
- providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000
-Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months. This will give people the necessary time to recover and ensure they do not have to pay their mortgage in the interim.
-Confirmation that government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. is enough for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place.
The First Minister has said this afternoon that there is a £2.2billion package of support in total to help sustain businesses and that discussions about the grant schemes are ongoing with the local authority umbrella body, Cosla: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-51907797/page/2
Business Gateway are continually updating their website with the latest advice for employers and employees- https://www.bgateway.com/news/guidance-for-business-owners-in-scotland-on-coronavirus-covid-19
There is also a business support helpline available 8:30am-5:30pm, Monday to Friday, which provides advice and can answer any questions. The number is 0300 303 0660.
These are the existing social security arrangements. They may change soon but I will endeavour to keep you updated on significant changes.
Contributory employment and support allowance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-style-employment-and-support-allowance
This is for those who have paid National Insurance contributions in recent years, If you are currently unable to work because you are infected with Coronavirus or in isolation - or caring for their child who is infected or in isolation – you are treated as having limited capability for work so should be eligible from Day 1 at the rate of £73.10 a week.
Universal credit https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-universal-credit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus
This is an option for self-employed people with savings/capital under £16,000.
Council tax reduction - https://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/A/Apply_for_Council_Tax_Benefit.htm
This for those with capital under £16,000 and is means tested.
Statutory Sick pay –www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/eligibility
You are eligible if you are an employee and have normal weekly earnings of at least £118 a week and self-isolating or affected. NB government has announced it is payable from day one www.gov.uk/government/news/sick-pay-from-day-one-for-those-affected-by-coronavirus
There is also useful information from the Money Advice Service available here:www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
The First Minister announced that all schools will close from Friday the 20th of March until further notice.
There will be a Ministerial Statement to parliament today (Thursday 19th March) at 2pm. This will be available to watch on Scottish Parliament TV either live or on repeat here: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/
Scottish Government guidance has said that no public events of more than 500 people should take place. Those requiring police or ambulance and emergency services support will be cancelled.
A number of local organisers of community summer fairs have been in touch to ask about planning. It is estimated that we will reach the peak of the virus in late May or June. It is unlikely that the event restrictions will be lifted until long after this, so you should plan on this basis.
Anyone planning travel in the next few weeks are advised that both outward and return travel might be disrupted, depending on continued spread of virus. It is vital that you check the extent of your travel insurance cover, particularly with regard to falling sick overseas, repatriation and cancellation provisions.
For the latest travel advice got to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Loganair have announced that they will be operating reduced flights on an emergency timetable. Their information page is available here: https://www.loganair.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-covid-19
Northlink ferry services are continuing as usual, but with some extra precautions: https://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/