Coronavirus - what it means for you
The Scottish government has announced plans to change the rules about staying at home. We’ll publish new advice to help you understand any changes when they apply to you.
On this page:
- Health advice
- If you’re extremely vulnerable because of a medical condition
- Local support for people at high risk who can't leave their home
- Rules about staying at home
- Watching out for coronavirus scams
- If you have less money because of coronavirus
- Going to work
- School closures and key workers
- If you're planning to travel abroad
- If you think shops are acting unfairly
- Advice for businesses
Coronavirus causes the illness called COVID-19. There are things you can do to avoid getting coronavirus and stop it spreading.
Read the latest advice about symptoms, social distancing and testing on NHS inform.
There is also specific advice for:
- parents - check Parent club
- children and young people – check Young Scot
- unpaid carers – check the Scottish government advice for unpaid carers
- medical conditions – check Scottish government guidance for people living with certain medical conditions like cancer, diabetes and other chronic illnesses
- older people - check Age Scotland's advice or phone their helpline on 0800 12 44 222, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
- key workers - check NHS inform advice for key workers.
If you don't have symptoms of COVID-19 but want general information, phone the free NHS inform helpline on 0800 028 2816. The helpline is open every day from 8am to 10pm.
Overseas visitors to Scotland don't have to pay to be diagnosed or treated for coronavirus on the NHS, whatever their residency status. Read about healthcare for overseas visitors on NHS inform.
You might want to cover your mouth and nose if you go somewhere that physical distancing is difficult, like public transport or a small shop. The Scottish government says you can wear a material that you can breathe through, like a scarf. These are called face coverings and are different from surgical or medical face masks worn by healthcare professionals.
Getting help for other medical conditions
If you need medical care for other conditions or symptoms, you should still:
- phone your GP practice, or 111 out of hours
- go to A&E for urgent help
- phone 999 in an emergency
- ask a pharmacist about treating minor ailments
- get help for dental emergencies - find out where to get emergency dental care on NHS inform
- get help for eye care emergencies – contact your local optician, they might refer you to an Emergency Eye care Treatment Centre. Find a local optician on NHS inform
- take children for vaccinations.
Find your nearest A&E or pharmacy on NHS inform.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms on top of your medical concerns, phone your GP or 111 for advice first. If it's an emergency, phone 999 and tell the call handler about the coronavirus symptoms.
Caring for your mental health
It’s important to take care of your mental health, and support is available to help you. Get information on supporting your mental well-being on NHS inform.
The Clear your head website has ideas and resources to support your mental well-being.
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and you already get help from your GP, phone your GP or care team first. If you can’t talk to them, call 111 to speak to NHS 24.
You’re 'extremely vulnerable' if you have certain medical conditions – for example, severe asthma or cancer.
NHS Scotland has contacted people who are 'extremely vulnerable'. They’ll tell you how to avoid coming into contact with coronavirus.
You should shield yourself for 12 weeks, starting when the NHS contacted you, by:
- staying at home
- avoiding all non-essential contact with other people in your household.
If you think you’re extremely vulnerable but NHS Scotland hasn’t contacted you, contact your GP or hospital clinician.
Read more about shielding and which groups are 'extremely vulnerable' on NHS inform.
The letter from NHS Scotland will tell you how to register. Register even if you don't need support right now because you have family or friends helping.
You can ask to be contacted by text message. If you don't have a mobile phone, you can phone your council's shielding support line. Find your local shielding support line on the Scottish government website.
There’s more information, like how vulnerable people were identified and how deliveries will be made, in the Scottish government shielding guidance.
If someone can’t leave their home because they’re at high risk from coronavirus, they can call the national assistance helpline on 0800 111 4000, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. You can give this phone number to someone you’re helping or call on their behalf.
The helpline will connect them with their council for support getting food and medicine, social work services, emotional support and support from local volunteer groups.
The helpline is for anyone who doesn’t have help from family, friends or neighbours and is in one of these categories:
- can’t access help online
- is over 70
- is disabled
- gets mental health support
- is pregnant
- receives a flu jab for health reasons.
The helpline isn’t for people who got a letter advising them to shield. But if you were advised to shield and you’re not getting help yet, you can use the helpline.
The Scottish government has said you must stay at home unless you have a good reason.
Good reasons for going out include:
- shopping for basics - for example, food and medicine. This must be as infrequent as possible
- exercise - for example, running, walking or cycling. This can be alone or with members of your household. You can exercise more than once a day, but you should stay close to home
- any medical need
- caring for a vulnerable person
- travelling to and from work - but only if it's 'not reasonably possible' to work from home.
The restrictions apply every day, including public holidays, until the Scottish government changes the rules.
The rules in other parts of the UK might be different, but you should follow the rules for the part of the UK you are in.
The police have powers to enforce these rules. If you’re outside without a good reason, the police can make you go home. If you refuse to go home, the police can fine you.
Find out what action the Scottish government is taking on COVID-19. This guidance from the government is updated every day.
If you share childcare between different houses
If you live in a different home from your child’s other parent you can continue to share childcare. The government has said children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.
It’s important to think about your child’s health, how they feel about moving between households, and whether there are vulnerable members of either household.
If there’s a court order or formal agreement in place, you should try to stick to those arrangements. If you decide it’s best to change the agreement, you can do this. Write down any change you agree, for example in a note, email or text.
If you have an informal arrangement, you should discuss what to do with your child’s other parent.
It might not be safe to maintain in-person contact if one household has symptoms and all the members of the household need to self-isolate. You could use phone or video call instead.
Read more about coronavirus and your family on Parent Club.
If your partner or family member makes you feel anxious or threatened
You can still get help during this time. Read our advice about domestic abuse and where to get help.
Police Scotland has seen an increase in coronavirus scams.
- only use trusted information about coronavirus - like NHS inform
- be wary of emails, social media messages or texts about coronavirus, especially from people you don't know
- avoid clicking on links to buy products or donate money if you're not sure it's safe
- not give money or personal details to anyone you don’t know and trust – for example, if someone knocks on your door and offers to help.
Use our advice to check if something is a scam.
If you have less money because of coronavirus, help is available. You might be able to:
- get financial support if you're self-employed
- increase your income - for example, by claiming benefits
- reduce your bills - for example, by getting a council tax reduction.
You might be able to claim benefits like Universal Credit, or get more money if you’re already getting benefits. This includes any statutory sick pay (SSP) your employer might give you.
It’s important to apply as soon as you can. Don’t be put off by longer wait times.
If you’re already getting benefits check if the government has made changes to your benefits.
Help with bills like rent and council tax
You might have less money to pay for your rent, mortgage, energy bills, council tax or court fines. You can check what help you can get if you're struggling to pay your bills or are worried about being evicted.
If you can't pay your council tax
If you can't pay your council tax, check with your council if they can be flexible about your payments due to coronavirus. Find your local council on mygov.scot.
You might be eligible for a council tax reduction if your income has dropped or if you started claiming benefits recently. Use our check my council tax tool to see if you can reduce your bill.
If you need help with food and energy
If you need urgent help to pay for essentials like food, gas or electricity, you can apply to your local council for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
The council will check your eligibility. You can apply even if you've had crisis grants before. Check our advice on applying for a crisis grant.
When you're ready to apply, find your local council on mygov.scot.
If you’re shielding, register for free deliveries of food and medicine.
You can also check our advice about foodbanks and other emergency help.
The government has said you should only go to work if it’s ‘not reasonably possible’ for you to work from home.
If your employer tells you not to work because of coronavirus
If your place of work has shut down or there’s no work for you because of coronavirus, you might still get paid.
Your employer might use the government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you while there’s no work to do. If you’ve been 'furloughed', your employer is probably using the scheme. Find out how the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme works.
Your employer might not have realised they could use the scheme, or just used different words when they told you not to work. They might have said you were being laid off or made redundant. Check your options if your employer said you were being laid off or made redundant.
If you're off work because you're self-isolating or shielding
You might get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you're following government guidance to self-isolate or you're shielding.
You could get SSP if:
- you have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
- someone you live with has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
- NHS Scotland has sent you a letter advising you to shield because you're extremely vulnerable.
If you have a health condition but you're not classed as extremely vulnerable, you can find out what to do if you're worried about working.
In most cases, you'll need to get an 'isolation note' online if you're sick for more than seven days. This will prove to your employer you need to stay off work.
You don't need an isolation note if you:
- are sick for less than seven days
- have got a letter from NHS Scotland advising you to shield - this letter is evidence that you're not fit to work outside your home.
If you’re worried about going to work because of coronavirus
If you’re worried about having to go to work, there are things your employer should do to make sure you’re safe.
If you decide not to work, there might be ways to keep getting paid.
If you’re worried about working and you’re pregnant or disabled, there might be other things your employer has to do.
Check what to do if you’re worried about working.
You might be eligible for support from the UK government's Self-employment Income Support Scheme or the Scottish government’s Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund. Check if you're eligible for self-employed support.
Most schools and nurseries in Scotland are closed. The Scottish government has said that schools will open for pupils on 11 August. There’s information about schools reopening on Parent club.
Local councils have made special arrangements for childcare if:
- you’re a 'key worker' - your job keeps an important service running, like the NHS or police
- your child is considered vulnerable - for example, if they get free school meals or have additional support needs.
The childcare arrangements will continue in May, June and July.
There's more detail about who's a key worker on the Scottish government website.
The arrangements for your area are made by your local council. Many areas have learning and childcare 'hubs' for children to go to.
You might not qualify for special childcare arrangements if you're a key worker but the child's other parent isn't.
Check your local council's website for its coronavirus response. The council might also contact you directly. Find your local council on mygov.scot.
If you need to take time off to look after your children
You might be able to get paid while you’re off work looking after your children. Check your options if you’re off work caring for someone.
There are tips and resources for home learning on Parentzone Scotland.
Free school meals
Check your council's website for information on how free school meals are affected by school closures in your area.
Children in primary one to three won't automatically get free meals while schools are closed.
In some areas only those families on low incomes or getting certain benefits will be eligible for free meals while schools are closed. Check if your child is now eligible if you've recently started getting benefits.
If you're eligible you might collect meals from hubs, get direct payments or get vouchers for shops.
Find your local council on mygov.scot.
SQA exams and higher education
Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) exams
SQA exams aren't going ahead in 2020. Schools and colleges will contact learners with more information.
Schools and colleges should arrange for S4-S6 pupils to complete coursework or prelims remotely, if possible. They won't be allowed to attend school to do this.
You should also check the Scottish Qualifications Authority website for updates.
Colleges and universities
Each college and university is responsible for making decisions about its higher education courses and exams. Check their website for information for students.
For further and higher education, check Student Information Scotland’s coronavirus update and information on hardship payments for students.
Government advice is not to travel right now unless you really have to - you can read the latest travel guidance on GOV.UK.
If you’ve booked a holiday
If you already have a holiday booked it’s worth checking guidance from your travel agent, airline or other holiday provider. You might be able to re-book your holiday and go later in the year.
You can also find out what to do if your package holiday is cancelled.
If you need more help, you can get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Shops and businesses can put up their prices if they want to. If you’ve noticed that things cost more than usual, you’ll need to decide if you want to pay for the item or not.
If you’re worried a business isn’t being fair with their prices or is acting illegally, you can report them to Trading Standards. Trading Standards might not reply to your complaint.
If you think a shop is open when it shouldn’t be, you can check which businesses should be closed on GOV.UK.
Most businesses and premises in the UK have been told to close. You can find more information about which businesses must stay closed, and which ones can open, on the Scottish government website.
Advice for employers and employees affected by coronavirus is available on the ACAS website.
Financial support for businesses and self-employed people
There are details of financial support for businesses from the UK government on GOV.UK.
You can check the Find Business Support website for the latest updates from the Scottish government.
You can also call the Scottish government helpline on 0300 303 0660. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm.
You might also be able to get financial help if you're self-employed.
If you applied for the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund or the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund
If you have applied for either of these Scottish government funds, you can check the status of your application on the Find Business Support website.
These schemes are now closed for new applications.
Check if you can claim back statutory sick pay
If you're an employer with fewer than 250 employees, you might be able to reclaim coronavirus-related statutory sick pay (SSP) from the UK government.
Find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme on the GOV.UK website.
If rent for a business hasn’t been paid
If rent hasn’t been paid on a commercial lease, the notice period required before the lease can be ended has been extended from 14 days to 14 weeks.
The landlord must give the tenant written notice and 14 weeks to pay the arrears.
The change applies to all commercial property leases. This includes cases where a warning notice has already been issued but hasn’t expired.