Coronavirus (COVID-19)


As our efforts to combat COVID-19 continue, this page is a hub for useful links, latest Scottish Government guidance and information on the coronavirus, as well as rolling updates on the actions we’re taking to protect the people of Scotland.

Latest briefing

How to avoid catching COVID-19

You can reduce your risk of getting and spreading the infection by following the FACTS:

  • Face coverings must be worn in enclosed spaces, such as shops, libraries, places of worship, and public transport.
  • Avoid crowded places, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Clean your hands thoroughly and regularly, as well as any hard surfaces you touch.
  • Two metre physical distancing remains the norm to stay safe.
  • Self-isolate immediately and book a test via NHS Inform when you experience any symptoms of COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you’ve developed a new continuous cough and/or a fever/high temperature, and/or a loss or changed sense of normal smell/taste, self-isolate as soon as you start experiencing symptoms – even if you think your symptoms are mild – and book a test via NHS Inform.

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 who are self-isolating.

Stay safe, protect others, save lives

Following the gradual fall in the transmission rate of the virus and the progress we’ve all made, we’ve been able to lift some of Scotland’s lockdown restrictions and re-open parts of our economy.

However, the virus has not gone away. If we all continue to follow the guidance and stick to the rules, we’ll ensure the virus is kept suppressed – which will help to save lives and help us return to normality sooner.

It’s still essential to exercise caution, look out for each other, wear face coverings in enclosed spaces, and follow physical distancing rules.

We are currently in Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown – and the relevant public health advice, such as physical distancing and hygiene measures, apply to all of the changes set out below.

Measures in Phase 3 include:

  • One household can meet up with up with another household, but gatherings must be limited to 6 people. The limit applies to meeting people at home, indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants and cafes, as well as outdoor spaces including gardens and parks.
  • Limit as far as possible the total number of households you meet in a day.
  • Shops and indoor hospitality promises, such as pubs, restaurants, cafés, B&Bs and hotels, as well as personal retail services (such as hairdressers, barbers, nail bars, tattoo parlours, etc.) can re-open with extended hygiene measures and physical distancing.

Read our summary of the Scottish Government’s route map here, or read the full Scottish Government guidance for Phase 3 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

A comprehensive range of essential health advice can be found on the NHS Inform website here.

Advice on travel can be accessed 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.

To ensure we all minimise the risk of transmission and keep the virus suppressed, remember the FACTS for a safer Scotland:

Face coverings in enclosed spaces, such as shops and public transport
Avoid crowded places
Clean your hands regularly
Two metres physical distancing
Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms

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 measures announced to suppress the rise in COVID in Scotland

Further measures to protect Scotland from the spread of coronavirus have been announced by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as COVID cases have been rising.

The new restrictions focus on no household visits and a 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants.

Here’s all you need to know about the new measures and what they mean for you.


Localised restrictions to continue in seven local authorities in and around Glasgow

Stricter restrictions on meetings in indoor household settings will continue across Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire, as reported cases of COVID-19 in these areas continues to be higher than the Scottish average.

While the rest of Scotland will have to adopt new rules on gatherings announced last week, (indoors or outdoors gatherings must not exceed six people from two households), the stricter measures must continue to be followed in these seven local authority areas. This will be next reviewed on 22 September.

The restrictions are:

  • People should not meet with people from other households in indoor household settings
  • Members of up to two households (maximum of six people) can continue to meet outdoors, and in hospitality settings – as long as guidance and enhanced hygiene measures are followed
  • Indoor visits to hospitals and care homes will be limited to essential visits only to protect the most vulnerable.


Connecting Scotland funding expanded to tackle digital exclusion

The pandemic has emphasised the importance of digital connectivity – for education, work, access to public services, staying in touch with friends and family, and more. However, it has also heightened the impact of digital exclusion.

That’s why we’ve extended the funding for the Connecting Scotland programme, which aims to give low income families and individuals an internet device as well as twelve months unlimited data and technical support, to £43 million.


Protect Scotland contact tracing app launches to help suppress the virus

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged smartphone users across Scotland to download NHS Scotland’s new contact tracing app to help suppress the spread of COVID-19. It is now available to download for free here.

Supported by a dedicated Protect Scotland website, the app is an extra tool complementing existing person-to-person contact tracing which remains the main component of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.

Individuals privacy will be protected as the app uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and advises them to self-isolate.

Read more here.


Aberdeen COVID cluster

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Aberdeen, local advice on travel and indoor gatherings between households has changed.

Measures have also been taken to close indoor and outdoor hospitality in the Aberdeen City local authority area, from 5pm on 5 August.

Read more here on the changes to Aberdeen City’s COVID restriction changes.


Our approach to COVID-19 surveillance and response

As restrictions ease, the way Scotland deals with COVID-19 is now shifting from containing the virus nationally through lockdown to monitoring and responding to localised outbreaks wherever and whenever they occur.

Though the transmission of the virus across Scotland has been suppressed to much lower levels, we must still ensure that where clusters of cases develop, we find them and act quickly to prevent further spread.

Read more here.


Further restrictions eased as Scotland moves to Phase 3 of lockdown route map

Following a consistent and significant fall in the COVID-19 transmission rate, hospitalisations and deaths, Scotland is now able to safely move into Phase 3 of the lockdown route map, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

From tomorrow (Friday 10 July), up to three households will be able to meet indoors for the first time – up to a maximum of eight people. Meanwhile, up to five different households to a maximum of 15 people will from tomorrow be able to meet outdoors.

The measures will be lifted cautiously and carefully, on a staggered basis, to ensure the risk is kept to the absolute minimum.

Read more about Phase 3 measures and the dates here.


Further detail on Scotland’s path out of lockdown announced

Provisional dates for the relaxation of travel restrictions, restarting of the hospitality industry and reopening of hairdressers are among further route map measures announced today by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Indicative Phase 2 dates:

  • 3 July – Travel distance limit for leisure will be lifted
  • 6 July – Outdoor hospitality can commence subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review

Indicative Phase 3 dates:

  • 10 July – People can meet in extended groups outdoors, with physical distancing
  • 10 July – Households can meet indoors with up to a maximum of two households, with physical distancing
  • 13 July – Organised outdoor contact sport can resume for children and young people, subject to guidance
  • 13 July – Increasing capacity within community optometry practices for emergency and essential eye care
  • 13 July – Non-essential shops inside shopping centres can reopen, subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review
  • 15 July – All childcare providers can open subject to individual provider arrangements
  • 15 July – All holiday accommodation will be permitted
  • 15 July – Indoor hospitality can reopen, subject to the Scientific Advisory Group review
  • 15 July – Hairdressers and barbers can reopen with enhanced hygiene measures
  • 15 July – Museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments, libraries will reopen with physical distancing and other measures, such as ticketing in advance


Face coverings now mandatory on public transport

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport from Monday 22 June, as part of preparations for progress towards recovery and to reduce the risk of transmission.

It will apply to all passengers and staff in public areas, although there will be exemptions especially for those who are not able to wear a face covering for specific medical reasons. Children under five will also be exempt.

Advice on face coverings, including how to make one and instructions for using one, will be available on the Transport Scotland website.  This advice is being updated to include full details of exemptions.


Gradual easing of lockdown restrictions into Phase 2 as progress continues

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced further easing of Scotland’s lockdown restrictions today.

Phase 2 changes begin to come into force from Friday 19 June, and include:

• A non-shielding household can meet two other households, outside, up to a suggested maximum of eight people in the group.

• Single person households, including single parents households with children under the age of 18, will be able to form an extended household with another.

• Those shielding will be able to take part in non-contact outdoor activities (e.g. golf, angling, kayaking, etc.) and meet members of one other household outdoors – with physical distancing in place.

Read more about the changes and the new guidelines here.


Helping childcare providers plan to reopen safely

Nurseries and other early learning and childcare providers have received new guidance, developed in partnership with local authorities, Health Protection Scotland and trade unions, to help them plan for reopening when it is safe to do so.

The new guidance sets out the core public health measures that will need to be taken to allow safe reopening, including:

• enhanced hand hygiene and cleaning practice
• caring for children in small groups and minimising contact between those groups
• maximising the use of outdoor space
• physical distancing between adults and older children at drop-off and pickup times.


£62 million fund for energy sector to help deliver a net zero future

The Scottish Government’s £62 million Energy Transition Fund has been set up to help the energy sector recover from the dual economic impacts of coronavirus and the oil and gas price crash.

It will support businesses in the oil, gas and energy sectors over the next five years as they grow and diversify and will help attract private sector investment in the region.

The investment, with a focus on the North East, underpins the region’s ambitions to become a world leader in the transition to net zero, helping Scotland meet its ambitious targets on climate change.


Updated advice for those who are shielding

People who are shielding are being advised that although they should continue to shield until at least 31 July, they can, if they choose, go outdoors to exercise from 18 June while maintaining strict physical distancing.

In all other respects, the advice for those who have been advised to shield has not changed as there remains a risk of infection in indoor and crowded places where physical distancing may not be possible.

The support currently in place for those who are shielding, in terms of free grocery boxes and priority access to online supermarket delivery slots, will continue throughout this time.

Read the guidance on how and where to access support.


NHS Scotland services to be gradually and safely restored based on clinical advice

NHS Scotland will begin resuming some services that have been suspended, delayed or deferred due to COVID-19, whilst continuing to protect emergency, urgent and maternity care.

A new document sets out how Health Boards will follow national and local clinical advice to safely and gradually prioritise the resumption of some paused services.

Health boards will introduce these plans while maintaining COVID-19 capacity and resilience, prioritising these services in the next phases:

  • cancer services, especially referrals and postponed treatments
  • expanding treatments for non-cancer urgent inpatients and outpatients
  • outpatient therapies where delay will increase the risk to patients, such as management of macular degeneration, paediatrics and respiratory services
  • mental health support
  • treatment room services such as blood monitoring and B12 injections


Lockdown begins to ease in Phase 1

Changes to Scotland’s lockdown restrictions have been confirmed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

While some outdoor activity restrictions are being eased, the public are still urged to stay at home as much as possible and maintain strict physical distancing when outdoors.

From now on, two households will be allowed to meet in outdoor spaces up to a suggested maximum of eight people. However, it is important that physical distancing and hygiene rules are maintained.

Read the Phase 1 guidance here.


Test and Protect rolled out across Scotland

Test and Protect – NHS Scotland’s approach to controlling the spread of coronavirus in the community – has now been rolled out in all health boards across the country.

From now on, everyone aged five and over who has COVID-19 symptoms of a new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change in sense of taste or smell should go to NHS Inform online or call 0800 028 2816 to book a test.

Under the system, people will need to isolate with their household as soon as they have symptoms and, if they have a positive test result, they will be asked to provide details of all recent close contacts to NHS contact tracers. Those people will be contacted and asked to isolate for 14 days.

Read our full explainer of Test and Protect here.


Enhanced package of support for Scotland’s care workers

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced a package of extra financial support for social care workers in Scotland to help them cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

It includes additional funding to provide enhanced sick pay for all social care workers where they have received a positive COVID-19 test, and a provision of a one-off death in service payment of £60,000 to a named survivor.


SNP call for Dominic Cummings to resign or be sacked

Commenting on the Dominic Cummings press conference, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford said:

“What should have been a resignation statement turned out to be a botched PR exercise that changes nothing. It is now beyond doubt Dominic Cummings broke multiple lockdown rules.

“There was no apology and no contrition from Mr Cummings for his behaviour – and now, following this unrepentant press conference, there are no excuses left for him.

“The Prime Minister has no option but to sack Mr Cummings. His failure to do so so far is a gross failure of leadership.”


Ian Blackford calls on the PM to end unfair treatment of foreign-born NHS and social care staff

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Ian Blackford has hit out at the UK government’s Immigration Bill which brands many NHS and care workers as “low skilled” – despite many of them playing a crucial role on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has also called on Boris Johnson to follow Scotland’s lead and pay all NHS and care staff the Real Living Wage, as well as to to stop charging NHS workers from overseas to use the health service.


Tory Scottish Secretary dodges commitment on furlough scheme for Scotland

Mhairi Black MP asked Scottish Secretary Alister Jack to commit to maintaining access to the furlough scheme for as long as lockdown continues in each of the devolved nations – or to devolve fiscal powers so that Scotland and other devolved nations can implement their own schemes.

Responding, Alister Jack failed to make any commitments or reassurances, instead dodging the question by claiming it was “a matter for the Chancellor”.


Delivering further support to care home residents and staff

A financial support package of £50 million has been confirmed to help the social care sector deal with the financial implications of coronavirus.

The funding will help address immediate challenges faced in the social care sector and support ongoing provision of social care.

What’s more, to ensure that the right PPE gets to the people who need it in care homes, the Scottish Government has created direct distribution routes, including local PPE Hubs.


Everyone over the age of 5 with COVID-19 symptoms now eligible to be tested

Testing for coronavirus is to be opened out to everyone who is symptomatic over the age of five.

This means anyone who is displaying any of the three symptoms of COVID-19 – continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of sense of taste or smell – will be able to book a test at the drive-through or mobile test centres.

A limited number of home test kits are also available through this programme.


Update to the list of coronavirus symptoms

In a statement from the four UK Chief Medical Officers, an update to the list of coronavirus symptoms has been issued, announcing that from today, all individuals should self-isolate if they develop a loss or a change in their normal sense of smell or taste.

You must also self-isolate for 7 days (and members of your household for 14 days) if you’re experiencing the other symptoms of coronavirus: continuous cough and high temperature.

Read the full statement here.


SNP MP calls for furlough scheme appeals process

SNP MP Neil Gray has called on the UK government to introduce an appeals process in its furlough scheme to ensure guidance is being followed and to protect people from avoidable and unfair redundancies.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Neil Gray raised with Boris Johnson the cases where employers are refusing to furlough staff – either because they do not fully understand the guidance or are unwilling to properly adhere to it, leaving many without jobs and a source of income during this health crisis.


New resources for health and social care staff, carers, volunteers and their families

A new national digital wellbeing hub, launching today, will enable staff, carers, volunteers and their families to access relevant support when they need it, and provides a range of self-care and wellbeing resources designed to aid resilience as the whole workforce responds to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The hub is the first of its kind in the UK and its content has been created by trauma and other specialists in Scotland.

Its launch follows the £3.8 million extra funding announced in March to increase the capacity of NHS 24’s mental health helpline services and expand digital therapies.


New funding to get vulnerable communities online

A new £5 million programme will offer an internet connection, training and support, and a laptop or tablet to vulnerable people who are not already online during the response to COVID-19.

The Connecting Scotland programme will connect 9,000 more people who are considered at clinically high risk themselves so they can access services and support and connect with friends and family during the pandemic.

Those who take part in the programme will be paired with a ‘digital champion’ to support them for six months while they get connected and find the information they need.


Scotland’s coronavirus lockdown extended by three more weeks

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the extension of Scotland’s lockdown for another three weeks, as she warned Boris Johnson against trying to pressure the Scottish Government “into lifting restrictions prematurely”.

The First Minister said she could not be confident that the R number – which measures how the disease spreads through the population – is low enough to allow any easing of restrictions, and therefore, the focus must remain on suppressing the virus.

The next review date will be on May 28, but the First Minister said the government could make changes to the regulations before then, “if the evidence suggests that it is safe to do so.”


New Scottish Government paper sets out the framework for easing COVID-19 lockdown

The Scottish Government has released a new 27-page document that sets out a future exit strategy for the coronavirus lockdown.

It outlines the Government’s principles and approach to managing our way through and out of this crisis to a ‘new normal’.

While there are some positive signs, not least in the declining numbers of people requiring intensive care treatment, the absolute priority continues to be suppressing the virus and lowering the R number to significantly below 1, to slow community transmission. Only once the R number is sufficiently low, can any lockdown measures begin to be eased.


Scottish Government publishes its “test, trace, isolate and support” strategy

We know there are no simple solutions to the challenges that lie ahead, and no quick-fixes that will allow us to lift restrictions quickly or dramatically. However, we know how important it is to restore as much normality to life as soon as we can.

To chart that path forward, the Scottish Government has now published its “test, trace, isolate and support” strategy.

Read the essential explainer here, and the full Scottish Government publication here.


Further investment to support mental health during the pandemic

This crisis means many people are dealing with anxiety, fear, uncertainty, anger or sadness. They may feel overwhelmed and relationships can be placed under a lot of pressure.

That’s why key mental health services are receiving a new, additional package of £1m funding to support families, young people and autistic people.

This includes:

• £768,000 for a relationships helpline to be delivered by The Spark counselling service
• £105,000 to support Young Scot to develop enhanced digital content and resources on mental health
• £205,000 to support 47,000 autistic people across Scotland, including funding to increase capacity at the Scottish Autism Helpline.


Extending PPE access to all social care providers

Everyone who provides social care will have access to appropriate PPE under new arrangements announced by the Health Secretary.

Local hubs will now distribute PPE supplies to the whole of the social care sector where normal supply routes have not been successful. These hubs will extend their provision to include all social care providers, and unpaid or family carers and personal assistants.


Ian Blackford leads calls for UK government to finally recognise need for Universal Basic Income scheme

Ian Blackford challenged the UK government at PMQs on why they are deliberately leaving millions of people without the financial support they need and called for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income.

In the first ever virtual question during Prime Minister’s Questions, Ian Blackford demanded answers on why, 34 days after the UK government announced support for businesses and workers, thousands of individuals have found themselves with no income, no support and no end in sight.


New NHS Louisa Jordan hospital is now operational and will be available for at least five months

Scotland’s new temporary coronavirus hospital, the NHS Louisa Jordan at the SEC campus in Glasgow, is now ready to receive COVID-19 patients and will be operational for at least five months.

It will provide up to 1,036 additional beds to support the pandemic response.

It is hoped the hospital will not be needed, as ongoing lockdown measures are slowly showing signs of the rate of transmission in Scotland slowing – however it is an important way of safeguarding our NHS and building up capacity to cope during the pandemic.


Scottish Government calls for extension of Brexit transition period during the COVID-19 crisis

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said it is essential for the UK Government to seek the full extension on offer to avoid further damage to jobs, wellbeing and the economy.

Mr Russell said it was reckless for the UK Government to continue negotiations, pushing forward its plans for a hard Brexit, at the height of the coronavirus crisis.

He has also called for an urgent meeting to be held by videoconference with all four UK nations on the Joint Ministerial Committee, which has not met in any form since January.


Scottish Government introduces a £22.5 million support package for the fishing industry

The announcement today of a further £3.5 million to help large sea fishing vessels brings the total support package available to the seafood industry up to £22.5 million.

The latest scheme will provide capped payments of up to £21,370 per vessel to businesses with a vessel over 12 metres landing shellfish such as crab, lobster, scallop and langoustine to help them meet fixed costs like insurance. It will also provide up to £42,740 for businesses operating more than one vessel.

Read more about the Scottish Government’s support for the seafood industry here.


SNP calls on UK government to “push the emergency brakes” on Brexit deadline to focus all efforts on COVID-19

Alison Thewliss, the SNP’s Shadow Chancellor, warned that hurtling towards the Brexit transition period deadline would be an “act of severe economic harm”, as talks between the UK and EU previously stalled and the already tight schedule faced increased delays due to the coronavirus outbreak.

This comes amid the latest OBR report that set out one forecast over the impact of the outbreak, finding that the UK economy could shrink by 35% and unemployment could rise by two million.

Meanwhile, the IMF concluded that the crisis “dwarfs the losses that triggered the global financial crisis”, and that it is “very likely that this year the global economy will experience its worst recession since the Great Depression.”


New £220 million business support package unveiled to protect against economic impact of COVID-19

Kate Forbes today unveiled the £220 million of further grants for businesses – including the recently self-employed – to help them deal with the ongoing impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The new package of measures includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100% grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75% grant on all subsequent properties.

The Scottish Government’s support for business now exceeds the £2.2 billion passed on from the UK Government and actively works to fill the gaps in the UK schemes.


New national helpline established for those who do not have family or community support

The service – which launched today – offers help to those who do not have family or existing community support and cannot get online and who are over 70, disabled, require the support of mental health services, are pregnant or receive a flu jab for health reasons.

The helpline number is 0800 111 4000 – will initially operate during core working hours of 09:00 to 17:00 on weekdays, with plans to extend it further.

Callers will be automatically connected to their local authority who will support them to access the service they need, such as:

  • essential food and medication
  • links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults
  • emotional support
  • contact with local volunteer groups.


Immediate pay increase and sick pay provision for social care staff

Social care staff are to receive an immediate 3.3% pay increase backdated from 1 April.

It is part of a package of measures to support social care workers in recognition of the vital role they are playing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Social care support workers providing direct adult support will have their pay increased to at least the Real Living Wage rate of £9.30 an hour for all hours worked, including sleep-overs and hours worked by personal assistants.


Remember to follow coronavirus guidance over Easter weekend

People across Scotland have helped greatly in tackling coronavirus (COVID-19) by observing restrictions, most importantly to stay at home.

Ahead of the Easter weekend, the Scottish Government’s National Clinical Director Jason Leitch has asked people to continue to help, while looking after their physical and mental health.

People should only travel for essential reasons such as buying groceries, healthcare, caring responsibilities or essential work.

See the latest social distancing guidance here.


SNP win in battle over Airbnb rentals during lockdown

Following pressure from the SNP, Airbnb has announced it is banning booking of rentals during the coronavirus lockdown – taking immediate effect from today.

The news follows significant pressure on the company from SNP MP and MSPs, which was still advertising holiday rentals despite the coronavirus lockdown – ignoring clear warnings for the public to avoid travel.

Ian Blackford welcomed the decision, adding: “In light of their decision, it’s now imperative that bookings taken before the ban are cancelled as a matter of urgency to protect our rural communities from the risk of the spread of coronavirus.”


Emergency hardship funds offered to students during coronavirus outbreak

A £5 million package of emergency financial support is being put in place to help students facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Extra cash will be available to any university and college students now struggling as a result of COVID-19, including those attending private institutions.


Nursing and midwifery students step up to join coronavirus workforce

More than 2,000 final year nursing and midwifery students have stepped forward to join the NHS Scotland workforce during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The commitment and enthusiasm of these volunteers, as with all of our NHS workers, deserves recognition and the gratitude of every one of us in Scotland.


First Minister answers children’s questions about coronavirus

Hosting a Q&A session for children, Nicola Sturgeon answered all kinds of questions sent in by children across Scotland at this challenging and unprecedented time. Click here to see the Q&A in full.


Key support services to support those affected by coronavirus get £8 million boost

People most at risk from the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak are to receive further support following emergency investment of £8 million in crucial services – ensuring they can effectively react to the coronavirus outbreak.

Disadvantaged groups facing hardships such as homelessness, food insecurity or social isolation and loneliness are among those to benefit from services such as:

• emergency accommodation in Glasgow and Edinburgh
• the provision of food and essential supplies to vulnerable groups in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen
• public health information translated into British Sign Language (BSL)
• online and telephone support for both older people and young people, and more isolated members of the LGBT community, to improve mental resilience and wellbeing


Almost 10,000 people come forward to support NHS Scotland during the COVID-19 outbreak

Almost 10,000 people, including more than 4,700 health care staff, have so far come forward to offer the NHS in Scotland their skills and expertise during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The figure includes medical and nursing students, retired NHS staff, those on a career break from the NHS and healthcare workers from outside the NHS.

Read Health Secretary Jeane Freeman’s ‘thank you’ statement here.


Scottish Government launches the Coronavirus Food Fund

Families unable to access food as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will get support from local authorities with £30 million of new investment from the Scottish Government Food Fund.

The funding will support those most in need including families with children who are eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.

Councils will have flexibility to use this additional resource in ways that best meet emerging local needs and circumstances, working with community groups and businesses to support home delivery, provide financial help and meet dietary requirements.


Local services to supply groceries and medicines to those most at risk

People in Scotland at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will begin to receive home deliveries of essential groceries on Friday.

People who have received the letter from the Chief Medical Officer this week and signed up to the service have been texted with the option of starting their weekly deliveries of essential food items including soup, pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee and biscuits, as well as toiletries such as shower gel and toilet roll, on Friday.


Scotland unites in showing support and solidarity with our NHS

Thousands of people in every corner of Scotland have joined in the #ClapForCarers initiative – clapping from front doors, gardens and living rooms to show appreciation for the tireless work of NHS and social care staff, as well as other key workers.

In addition, buildings across Edinburgh have lit up blue to show our support for the NHS.


MSPs unanimously support the emergency Coronavirus Bill

The Scottish Parliament has unanimously supported new emergency powers to help protect the public, maintain essential public services and support the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Bill adjusts the law on evictions to protect people renting their homes in the private and social sector, and ensures practical help will be given to many businesses and to people struggling financially because of the crisis.

Read more here.


Anaesthetic machines boost ventilator capacity

NHS staff have helped boost the stock of ventilators, crucial for the care of those suffering from coronavirus, by repurposing more than 200 anaesthetic machines.

The use of repurposed machines increases ICU bed availability to more than 500. More ventilators for the NHS in Scotland have been ordered from a range of manufacturers and these will arrive in the coming weeks.

We are now working to quadruple ICU capacity for COVID-19 patients to beyond 700 ICU beds, as soon as that can be achieved.


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.