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COVID-19

Lockdown Scotland

Lockdown Scotland, what are level 4 rules?

Lockdown Scotland, Level 4 has come into force for Scotland from today.

To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, you should stay at home or in your local area as much as possible and only travel out with your Local Authority area for essential purposes.

Level 4 rules are similar to the nationwide lockdown scotland we experienced in March, however there are some differences this time around.

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants will have to shut except for takeaways, drive-throughs and deliveries.

Following a rule change on what is classed as an essential shop – meaning garden centres, homeware and furniture shops like B&Q will have to shut – the First Minister has suggested that stricter restrictions, enforced by law, could follow.

Lockdown Scotland, The measures entail:

Rules indoors

People should not be meeting in each others houses, however six adults from two separate households can meet in a public place. Children under 12 do not count towards that total.

Exceptions to the ban on household meetings include another household providing care and support to a “vulnerable person.”

The extended household rule applies in level four, which allows people who live alone – or who are a single adult with children under 18 – being considered part of another household to reduce loneliness and isolation.

Where parents do not live in the same household, children can move between their parents’ homes.

Outdoor meetings

You can meet people from other households outdoors in a private garden or in a public place such as a park. The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is 6 which can be from up to 2 separate households.

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people counted in a gathering. Children under 12 do not need to maintain physical distance from others. This is to allow children under 12 to play with their friends outside.

Young people aged between 12 and 17 can meet up in groups of up to 6 at a time outdoors and are not subject to the 2 household limit. Physical distancing is required.

Where an individual household includes more than 6 people, they can continue to meet outside as a household even if the total number of people exceeds 6.

Education

Schools, colleges and universities can remain open in level 4, however this time around, Scotland faces a new period of disruption to schooling.

Most pupils will not return on 11 January, with online learning reintroduced until at least 18 January.

Hospitality

All restaurants, cafes and bars will close in Level 4.

Takeaways can continue to operate and hotels can serve food to overnight guests up to 10pm.

Travel

The Scottish Government website states that you cannot travel into or out of Level 3 and 4 local authority areas except for essential reasons.

Supermarkets, clothes shops and markets

All non-essential shops will shut from Boxing Day for three weeks.

Shops that can remain open include supermarkets as well as click and collect and on-line services. This no longer includes homeware, furniture or garden centres.

Hairdressers and barbers:

Any service which involves “close contact” cannot operate. This includes hairdressers, barbers, hair removal and massage therapies. It also includes dress-fitting, tattoo and piercing and indoor portrait photography.

Sport, leisure and entertainment:

Indoor sports facilities, including gyms, will close from Boxing Day. You can still meet others outdoors for informal exercise or sport and outdoor gyms can remain open.

Outdoor non-contact sports are permitted for all age groups.

All leisure and entertainment premises, including cinemas, must also close.

Film and TV production can continue however all public buildings such as libraries have to shut. Click and collect services can still operate.

Places of worship:

Indoor acts of worship are limited to a maximum of 20 people providing there is sufficient space to maintain safe 2 metre distancing.

Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships, with a maximum of 20 people including the couple, are permitted providing the venue is large enough for 2m distancing. Face coverings are compulsory except for the couple getting married and person conducting the service, however receptions cannot follow a ceremony.

Funerals and wakes can take place with maximum of 20 guests.

COVID-19: Christmas and the festive period

COVID-19: Christmas and the festive period

Christmas and the festive period, Includes guidance on forming ‘bubbles’ over Christmas.

Christmas and the festive period bubbles: what you need to know

This guidance has been updated following a joint agreement on 16 December by the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments on how to approach Christmas celebrations this year

The safest way to celebrate Christmas and the festive period this year is to celebrate with your own household in your own home – and as far as possible to keep any interaction with other households to a minimum. This is by far the safest way to spend this Christmas and keep your loved ones safe.

Christmas and the festive period bubbles can be formed between 23 and 27 December, to help reduce loneliness and isolation. You do not have to form a bubble if you do not want to – the safest way to spend Christmas is to stay in your own household, in your own home and your own local area

If you do decide to form a bubble this updated guidance asks you to:

  • Minimise the number of people in a Christmas bubble.  While 3 households is the legal maximum, our recommendation is that 2 would be better, and you should keep to a maximum of 8 people, age 12 and over – the smaller the bubble, the better and safer it will be
  • Minimise the time spent with your bubble, especially indoors. The 5 day period is a window of opportunity, not a recommended time. We recommend you do not meet up with people in your bubble on any more than one day over the period and do not stay overnight unless it is unavoidable. And you should minimise the distance you intend to travel
  • Avoid all travel between high prevalence and low prevalence areas – in particular, that means avoiding travel to or from Scotland and Tier 3 areas in England, and to or from any Level 4 areas in Scotland (of which there are currently none)
  • You should not go to a pub or restaurant or entertainment venue, for example a cinema or theatre, with your bubble
  • If you don’t form a bubble you must follow the rules in the local authority area you live in

Hogmanay and New Year: Christmas bubbles will not apply at Hogmanay and New Year.

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Joint statement from the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments on staying safe at Christmas and the festive period.

Christmas and the festive period: joint statement

Joint statement from the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments on staying safe at Christmas and the festive period.

As we approach the festive period, the UK Government, Scottish Government, and Welsh Government are seeking to balance pragmatism with the overriding priority of protecting public health. To do this, we have joined together to issue clear guidance and recommendations, as follows.

A smaller Christmas and festive period is a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas and festive period is a safer Christmas. The safest way to spend this Christmas and festive period is with your own household or your existing support bubble in your own home – and we strongly recommend that this is what you do if at all possible.

We know the extraordinary lengths that people have gone to this year to protect their loved ones and the NHS. We know that people want to see life return to normal. And with vaccines now being deployed, next year we are confident it will do. But to get there safely, this cannot be a normal Christmas and festive period . We must continue to work together to prevent the spread of the virus, and to protect our friends, our families and our front-line workers.

In some areas, the number of people with COVID-19 is rising rapidly, as it is in much of Europe. It is vital that we all act responsibly over Christmas and festive period to limit the risk of further transmission and keep each other as safe as possible. One in three people who have COVID-19 don’t show symptoms but can still pass on the virus.

To protect you and your loved ones, we recommend that you think very carefully about the risks of forming a bubble. Discuss alternatives to meeting up in person, or ways of meeting up outdoors instead. Only form a bubble if you feel you absolutely need to.

If you do decide you need to form a Christmas bubble, take precautions to minimise risk by stopping unnecessary social contact outside your immediate household as soon as possible, and for at least five days before you meet other households in your bubble, and by working from home if you can. On no account should you visit another household if you, or anyone in your household, is feeling unwell or is self-isolating.

Scientific advice is clear: the longer you meet others for, the higher the risk of you catching and spreading the virus. If you do intend to form a bubble, you should keep the bubble small and your visits short.

The five day period is a window of opportunity and should be seen as a legal maximum, not a target. If you do form a bubble, we recommend that you meet with it for the shortest possible time. You should not stay overnight unless absolutely unavoidable.

It is particularly important to think about the greater risks to more vulnerable people. If you are over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable, think carefully about the risks. The safest approach may be not to form a Christmas bubble. If you do form a Christmas bubble, then be especially careful to observe the guidance: meet outdoors where possible, wash your hands regularly, keep a distance from those you do not live with. If you meet indoors, ensure good ventilation by letting in fresh air. The clinically extremely vulnerable and the elderly will be prioritised for vaccination in the early part of next year.

If you are in an existing household or support bubble with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, think carefully. To help reduce the risks to their health, the safest approach would be to celebrate with your household or support bubble and not with others.

If you are forming a Christmas bubble you should consider carefully the risks of travelling at all. If you live in an area with the highest level of protection, for example, tier 3 in England and level 4 in Scotland, you should avoid travelling to lower prevalence areas where possible. Each administration will issue specific travel advice based on its own circumstances. If you have to travel, book ahead to enable you and others to travel safely and plan your outward and return journeys carefully. Once you arrive you should stay local and not travel within the area.

If you form a Christmas bubble, practise safe behaviours: washing your hands, making space between members of different households wherever you can, and letting in fresh air.  Following these behaviours, even within the home, will greatly reduce the risk of transmission.

We will all need to carry on practising safe behaviours after Christmas and festive period . This means shopping only if you can do so safely: shop online where you can; avoid crowds; and, if you are in crowded areas, wear a face covering and only go where it is well ventilated. 

It is also really important to cut down on social contact after seeing your Christmas bubble, to reduce the risk of chains of transmission. This includes not meeting up with friends or family outside your household for New Year’s Eve. The tier or level rules will be in place on New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay and it is essential, as the minimum, that these are followed by everyone.

By taking these steps together, we can all enjoy a safer Christmas and festive period .

See: guidance for Christmas and the festive season

COVID-19: Christmas and the festive period
Joint statement from the Scottish, Welsh and UK Governments on staying safe at Christmas and the festive period.

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Keeping residents and patients safe over Christmas and New Year period, visiting update Care home and Hospital

Care home and Hospital visiting update

Keeping residents and patients safe over Christmas and New Year period, visiting update Care home and Hospital

Visiting arrangements for Care home and Hospital in Scotland will remain in place over the Christmas and New Year period, it has been confirmed.

For the general public, there will be UK-wide easing of restrictions on travel and gathering between 23 – 27 December.

However, in a joint-letter to NHS Boards, the interim Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer and National Clinical Director clarified this would not apply to hospitals over the Christmas period, given the increased vulnerability of hospital patients compared to the general population.

Christmas and New Year guidance has also been published for the adult care home sector, recommending that indoor visiting should continue to be supported where it is safe to do so, as well as setting out specific safeguards that care homes can put in place to safely support festive activities.

Keeping residents and patients safe over Christmas and New Year period,  visiting update Care home and Hospital
Keeping residents and patients safe over Christmas and New Year period, visiting update Care home and Hospital

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“While most people will see a limited relaxation of existing restrictions over the holiday period, hospital and care home visiting guidance will remain in place to protect patients and residents.

“However, we are encouraging Boards and care homes to continue to apply this guidance with flexibility and compassion, given how important the Christmas and New Year period is for many families, to ensure no-one is unnecessarily isolated over the Christmas period. Essential visits should also continue regardless of local restrictions, as they have throughout the pandemic.

“In care homes this will be facilitated by testing of designated visitors, which will be rolled out to all care homes from Monday onwards. Testing is not required for visiting but it does add an additional layer of protection, and we will make PCR testing available for any care homes unable to make use of lateral flow tests before Christmas.

Peterhead bus timetable
Care home and Hospital visiting update

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Business owners affected

Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected.

Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021.

Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced today (9 December 2020).

The majority of commercial landlords have shown flexibility, understanding and commitment to protect businesses during an exceptionally challenging time.

This final extension to protections from the threat of eviction will give landlords and tenants 3 months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent. The government is clear that where businesses can pay any or all of their rent, they should do so.

Further guidance to support negotiations between landlords and tenants will also be published shortly.

The move will also support businesses worst affected by the pandemic, such as bars and restaurants, helping them to rebuild over the winter period. This is in addition to putting in place one of the world’s most comprehensive economic responses to protect jobs, incomes, and business throughout and beyond this pandemic.

Alongside this, Mr Jenrick has also announced a review of the outdated commercial landlord and tenant legislation, to address concerns that the current framework does not reflect the current economic conditions.

This review will consider how to enable better collaboration between commercial landlords and tenants and also how to improve the leasing process to ensure our high streets and town centres thrive as we recover from the pandemic and beyond.

Today’s announcement builds on the extra government support for businesses, including targeted VAT cuts, extension of government-backed loan schemes, grants of up to £3,000 for premises that must close, and £1.1 billion for councils to enable them to support businesses in their area.

Overall the government has committed a package of over £280 billion of support for businesses and employees this year and the Chancellor has confirmed an additional £55 billion for next year.

Secretary of State for Housing Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

I am extending protections from the threat of eviction for businesses unable to pay their rent until March 2021, taking the length of these measures to one year. This will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and plan for the future.

This support is for the businesses struggling the most during the pandemic, such as those in hospitality – however, those that are able to pay their rent should do so.

We are witnessing a profound adjustment in commercial property. It is critical that landlords and tenants across the country use the coming months to reach agreements on rent wherever possible and enable viable businesses to continue to operate.

Business owners affected
Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

We have stood by businesses across the country throughout this pandemic, and as we head into the New Year we will make sure they continue to have the support they need to keep their finances stable, protect jobs and build back better.

There is still some uncertainty ahead, but knowing that they won’t be evicted by their landlord will give thousands of business owners some breathing space and the additional confidence they need to plan for their futures.

Business owners affected: Further guidance to support tenants and landlords to continue to work together to agree rent payment options where businesses are struggling will be published shortly.

Additional guidance published early next year will sit alongside the government’s Code of Practice, published in June, to encourage all parties to work together to protect viable businesses and ensure a swift economic recovery.

The government will also extend insolvency measures on restricting statutory demands and winding up petitions until the end of March.

The restriction on landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) to recover unpaid rent will also automatically extend to the end of March, in line with the moratorium’s expiry date. This allows businesses sufficient breathing space to pay rent owed.

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