Coronavirus (COVID-19)


As the Scottish and UK government’s collaborative efforts to combat the Coronavirus continue, we’ll use this page as a base for useful links and information on the Coronavirus, as well as rolling updates on the action we’re taking to support the people of Scotland.

Latest briefing

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you’ve developed a new continuous cough and/or a fever/high temperature in the last 7 days, stay at home for 7 days from the start of your symptoms – even if you think your symptoms are mild.

Phone your GP if your symptoms:

  • are severe or you have shortness of breath
  • worsen during home isolation
  • have not improved after 7 days

You should also phone your GP if you develop breathlessness or it worsens, especially if you:

  • are 60 years old or over
  • have underlying poor health
  • have heart or lung problems
  • have a weakened immune system, including cancer
  • have diabetes

If your GP is closed, phone NHS 24 (111).

If you have a medical emergency, phone 999 and tell them you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Go to NHS Inform for the full advice for people staying at home for 7 days.

Stay home, save lives

Following the First Minister’s announcement of effective ‘lockdown’ measures on March 23, the only permissible reasons to now leave your home are as follows:

  • To shop for basic necessities and that should be limited to once a day
  • To take exercise once a day – but alone or with your own household, not in groups
  • For medical reasons or to care for a vulnerable person
  • To travel to essential work if that cannot be done at home. Further guidance to employers is pending.

Gatherings of more than two people in public will be prohibited – unless it is a household group or work related. Social events must not take place.

These measures are essential to slow down the spread of this virus, to reduce the peak impact of it, to prevent our NHS being overwhelmed – and they are essential to save lives. Read the full Scottish Government guidance here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline

If you don’t have symptoms and are looking for general information, phone the Scottish Government’s free helpline on 0800 028 2816.

The helpline is open:

  • Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 10.00pm
  • Saturday and Sunday, 8.00am to 6.00pm

Further information

More advice from the Scottish Government can be found here.

More advice on travel can be found on Fit for Travel and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Latest information on the situation in Scotland is being published and consistently updated by the Scottish Government.

Latest developments and actions

To help you stay updated with the latest developments and guidance on the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve put together this rolling list of the action the Scottish Government is taking to support the people of Scotland.


New powers and measures to protect the public outlined in the emergency Coronavirus Bill

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill was formally introduced before the Scottish Parliament today to help protect the public, maintain essential public services and support the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Bill focuses on three headline areas, making:

  • adjustments to the justice system, including criminal procedures to ensure essential justice business continues
  • a range of provisions designed to ensure businesses, consumers and public services continue to operate effectively
  • adjustments to the law on evictions to protect those renting their homes in the private and social sector


Tens of thousands sign up to help during coronavirus outbreak

More than 21,000 people have signed up to volunteer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic through the new ‘Scotland Cares’ campaign.

The volunteers offered their support through the Ready Scotland website which launched this morning.

In addition nearly 2,000 people have used the recruitment portal – also accessible through Ready Scotland – to indicate that they have the relevant skills and qualifications to work in our NHS.


National volunteering plan launched to help tackle coronavirus

A new ‘Scotland Cares’ campaign has been launched to encourage people to volunteer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

While the most important ask for the public remains to stay at home and follow the essential public health guidance, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need.

Those wanting to volunteer to support their communities can sign up on the Ready Scotland website.


£3.8 million investment in mental health services

Extra funding to develop mental health services to cope with further demand as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been confirmed by the Scottish Government.

Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey announced a further £3.8 million to begin to increase the capacity of NHS 24’s telephone and online services.

This includes £2.6 million to expand the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub and Breathing Space telephone helpline and web support service and £1.2 million to provide extra capacity for Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT). Information about these expanded services will come on line as they become active.

Read more here.


Protecting workers during coronavirus outbreak

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop and STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith have issued a joint statement outlining the shared commitment to fair work practices in Scotland.

The statement calls on employers, trades unions and workers to work together to reach the right decisions on all workplace issues that arise throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and ensure workers are treated fairly.

View the statement in full here.


SNP challenges Boris Johnson over unacceptable delays to support for the self-employed

Speaking at Prime Ministers Questions, Ian Blackford questioned why a package of support had not been put in place before the coronavirus lockdown was announced – given other countries across the EU have delivered support for the self-employed.

Millions of self-employed people are worried about how they will support their families, pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads – they need financial support now.

The UK government should introduce these measures without further delay. We must ensure no one is left struggling to get by in the face of this unprecedented emergency.


SNP ramps up calls for the UK government to urgently support the self-employed

The coronavirus lockdown makes it even more urgent for the UK government to deliver a comprehensive financial package of support for the millions of freelancers, self-employed and unemployed people who are struggling to get by in this developing crisis.

The SNP is proposing four key measures:

  • Ensure everyone has a guaranteed income – using the tax and welfare system to put money directly in people’s pockets through a Universal Basic Income, reverse National Insurance, or another similar mechanism
  • Raise the UK’s Statutory Sick Pay rate to the EU national average – and expand entitlement for the selfemployed and those under the earnings threshold
  • Include selfemployed people in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – providing the same support for the selfemployed as announced for employees
  • Strengthen welfare protections – increase Child Benefit and make Universal Credit more flexible.


Effective ‘lockdown’ measures introduced to slow down the COVID-19 spread and save lives

Following a meeting of the UK government’s COBRA committee, the First Minister has announced an immediate and effective ban on public gatherings of more than two people in Scotland, in a bid to flatten the curve of Covid-19 spread and protect the NHS.

From tonight, the only permissible reasons to leave your home are as follows:

  • To shop for basic necessities and that should be limited to once a day
  • To take exercise once a day – but alone or with your own household, not in groups
  • For medical reasons or to care for a vulnerable person
  • To travel to essential work if that cannot be done at home. Further guidance to employers is pending.


Community pharmacists empowered to help more patients during the COVID-19 outbreak

The vital work of community pharmacies up and down the country is key in ensuring that we continue to reduce the burden across the NHS, and patients continue to get the necessary medicines they need to stay healthy.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, community pharmacists are to perform an enhanced role by supporting more patients, reducing the pressure on other parts of NHS Scotland through the extension of the Minor Ailment Service.


Support for self-employed and unemployed “must be key priority”, urges SNP MP

Alison Thewliss MP has said introducing a financial package of support for self-employed and unemployed people “must be a key priority” for the Chancellor this week.

This follows Ian Blackford’s letter to Rishi Sunak, setting out the SNP’s 5-point plan for urgent financial support – including guaranteed income for everyone, self-employed people’s inclusion in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an increase in UK Statutory Sick Pay to the EU national average, strengthening welfare protections, and making Universal Credit more flexible.


SNP press for support for the self-employed and unemployed

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Ian Blackford called for an urgent meeting to discuss implementing support for the self-employed, unemployed and those in need of social security payments, pressing the UK government to introduce four key measures:

  • Ensure everyone has a guaranteed income – the simplest way to provide support for everyone, including self-employed and unemployed people, is to put money directly in people’s pockets through an emergency Universal Basic Income.
  • Include self-employed people in the Coronavirus job retention scheme – providing the same support for the self-employed as announced for employees.
  • Raise the UK’s Statutory Sick Pay rate to the EU national average – and expand entitlement for the self-employed and those under the earnings threshold.
  • Strengthen welfare protections – increase Child Benefit and make Universal Credit more flexible.


First Minister addresses the nation

In a televised address from Bute House, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on pubs, cafes, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, theatres, leisure centres and gyms in Scotland to close from tonight – to ensure people stay away from crowded places and protect themselves from coronavirus.

She said: “We are entering stormy waters, and I can’t tell you yet when we will reach dry land. I can promise you that as your First Minister, I will do my utmost to lead us safely through.

“But I need your help. I need you to follow health advice. And I need you to look out for those around you.


Ian Blackford introduces a five-point plan to protect people’s incomes, ahead of meeting the PM

The SNP has called for the UK government to introduce an immediate five-point plan to protect people’s incomes – ahead of a meeting with Boris Johnson in Downing Street this morning.

Ian Blackford raised concerns that unemployment could go through the roof and poverty could soar – unless a wide-ranging multi-billion package is urgently introduced to save jobs and put cash in people’s pockets.

The SNP’s 5-point plan demands to implement these key measures:


New Coronavirus Bill will bolster the COVID-19 response

New measures contained in the Coronavirus Bill – which was introduced in the UK Parliament today following close co-operation with the devolved administrations – will help enhance Scotland’s response to COVID-19 and strengthen frontline services.

It covers both reserved and devolved matters and will enable the Scottish Government to bring more health professionals and social workers into the workforce, relax regulations to ease the burden on frontline staff, and take steps to help slow the spread of the virus. It grants new powers to cancel events and allow the police to compel potentially infectious people to undergo COVID-19 screening and assessment.

Read Michael Russell’s full Scottish Parliament statement here.


John Swinney gives statement in Parliament outlining further detail on school closures

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has updated Parliament on the decision to close schools and confirmed that:

  • the exam diet will not go ahead this year. The Scottish Qualifications Authority will put in place a certification model using coursework, teacher assessment of estimated grades and prior attainment
  • local authorities are taking measures to protect vulnerable children who rely on schools for hot meals or a safe and supportive environment
  • children of key workers will have continuing access to learning or childcare


SNP renew calls for multi-billion financial support package for people

The SNP has renewed calls on the UK government to urgently introduce a wide-ranging multi-billion financial package for people – as the Resolution Foundation published its proposals to immediately step up the economic response to the coronavirus crisis.

Neil Gray MP has called for the extension and increase of statutory sick pay, a new statutory retention pay scheme to keep people in employment, and for an increase in Universal Credit and other social security benefits to protect people’s incomes.


SNP MP urges Foreign Secretary to provide more help for citizens stranded abroad

In a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, John Nicolson MP pressed the Foreign Office to clarify what help will be available to the UK citizens stranded abroad due to cancellations and travel restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak.


£2.2 billion of financial support announced to help businesses through hardship

Amid the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Scottish Government is making available a £2.2 billion package of support to businesses from 1 April. This includes:

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year

Read more here.


Scottish Government introduces £350m welfare and wellbeing fund to help communities affected by COVID-19

An additional £350 million will go to those most affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – with the funding available to councils, charities, businesses and community groups. It is designed to be flexible, cutting down on red tape to enable them to respond swiftly and according to local need for people impacted economically or through reduced contact with society, including anyone struggling to access food.

Read Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell’s full statement here.


SNP call for emergency universal basic income to support people with coronavirus hardship

The SNP has called for the UK government to introduce an emergency Universal Basic Income to protect people’s incomes in the face of the Coronavirus crisis.

Speaking at Prime Ministers Questions, Ian Blackford said the UK government must learn the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis when “banks were bailed out – but ordinary people were not”, and deliver a wide-ranging financial package for people – including a temporary Universal Basic Income enabling people to support their families, pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads.

The Prime Minister has agreed to meet to discuss the proposal.


Schools and nurseries in Scotland to close

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that schools and nurseries will close on Friday 20th March, and that further information on the closures will be announced on Thursday 19th, in a statement from the Deputy First Minister John Swinney.


SNP MP calls on supermarket chiefs to prioritise elderly and vulnerable customers

Carol Monaghan MP has written to the CEOs of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, urging them to introduce a system – similar to one in place in Ireland and other European countries – whereby only elderly people can access the stores at certain times, following a rise in panic-buying across Scotland and the UK.

Such measures would go a long way in addressing serious concerns raised about protecting people in our society, while people in their local communities should – if they are able to – continue to assist their elderly and vulnerable neighbours.


SNP MP urges Chancellor to provide emergency assistance for our hospitality sector

While welcoming the business support measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Tommy Sheppard MP urged him to go further and introduce a new package of assistance for small businesses in the hospitality sector, which are likely to be among the worst hit by the economic impact of coronavirus.

The proposed measures include the government covering paid leave for employees of small businesses during this crisis, in order to give workers the financial security and reassurance they need and deserve.


First Minister outlines next steps in Scottish Parliament statement

Nicola Sturgeon has updated the nation on the latest action to tackle coronavirus – outlining the latest advice to minimise social contact, to self-isolate for 7 days for those with symptoms, and for 14 for those who have someone with symptoms in their household.


People advised to limit social contact

The Scottish Government is advising people over 70 and those with underlying health conditions to stay at home as much as possible and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact.

The advice is that people should:

  • minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms
  • avoid using public transport as much as possible
  • work from home when possible
  • follow the latest health and travel advice, and follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.


SNP call on social media companies to act over spread of false and misleading information

SNP MP Stewart McDonald called on social media companies to ensure that their platforms are not “weaponised to spread false information” relating to the coronavirus crisis, and to prevent endangering lives resulting from fake news.


Scottish Government issues guidance on large gatherings

The Scottish Government has published guidance advising that gatherings of 500 people or more should not take place in Scotland, following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement earlier this week.

By advising organisers not to hold large gatherings of 500 people or more, we are enabling essential services to prioritise their resources where they are needed most.


New £320m coronavirus support package for businesses

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has announced a new package of measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland.

With the tourism and hospitality sectors facing immediate and particular pressure, the Scottish Government is taking targeted action to mitigate the economic hit caused by the spread of the virus – including business rates relief, an £80million fund to provide grants for small businesses, and more.

Read more about our business support package here.


COVID-19 helpline launched to support Scottish businesses

The coronavirus outbreak presents a significant risk to global and domestic economic activity, which is why the Scottish Government is taking action to support businesses and provide essential guidance.

The new business helpline is now live on 0300 303 0660 to answer questions from businesses related to COVID-19.


People with mild symptoms told to stay at home for 7 days

Following scientific and clinical advice, we have moved from the containment stage to the delay stage – with the Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood advising all those experiencing even mild symptoms – such as fever and cough – to stay at home for seven days. This is a necessary step to try to slow down the spread of infection.

Further updates on public health advice for coronavirus can be found on the NHS Inform website.