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Coronavirus - what it means for you

This advice applies to Scotland

This page is regularly updated as government advice becomes available.

We’ll publish new advice to help you understand any changes when they’re announced. We’ll also update our existing advice.

Health advice

Coronavirus is the virus that causes the illness called COVID-19. There are things you can do to help you avoid getting coronavirus and to stop the virus spreading.

Read the latest advice about symptoms and social distancing on NHS inform.

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.

Advice in British Sign Language and Easy Read format are also available.

Overseas visitors to Scotland won't have to pay NHS charges for the diagnosis or treatment of coronavirus, regardless of residency status. Read about healthcare for overseas visitors on NHS inform.

Coronavirus advice for young people is available on the Young Scot website. Parent Club has advice for families

You shouldn't delay getting medical care for conditions other than coronavirus. If you would normally call your GP or NHS 24 on 111 you should still do this. 

Caring for your mental health

It’s important to take care of your mental health, and there’s support available to help you. Get information on supporting your mental well-being on NHS inform.  

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.

Watch out for coronavirus scams

Police Scotland has seen an increase in coronavirus scams

You should:

  • only use trusted information about coronavirus - like NHS inform
  • be wary of emails, social media messages or texts about coronavirus, especially if they come 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.

You can use our advice to check if something is a scam.

Staying at home

The government has said you must stay at home. You could get a fine if you go out without a good reason.

Good reasons for going out include:

  • shopping for basics - for example, food and medicine. This must be as infrequent as possible
  • one type of exercise a day - for example a run, walk or bike ride. This can be alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need
  • caring for a vulnerable person
  • travelling to and from work - but only if your work can 'absolutely not be done from home'

The restrictions apply every day, including public holidays, until the government changes the rules. They'll review this in mid-April 2020. 

The police have new 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 your partner 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.

If you’re extremely vulnerable because of a medical condition

You’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ if there’s a high risk you’ll get severely ill from coronavirus - for example, if you have severe asthma or cancer.

NHS Scotland will contact you with advice on how to avoid coming into contact with coronavirus. This is called 'shielding'. You should:

  • stay at home
  • avoid all non-essential contact with other people in your household.

You should follow this advice for at least the next 12 weeks.

Read more about shielding on NHS inform.

Register for deliveries of food and medicine

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. 

If you're struggling to pay your bills

This includes things like your rent, mortgage, energy or council tax.

Check what help you can get if you're struggling to pay your bills

You might be able to claim benefits, or get more money if you’re already getting benefits. This includes any 'statutory sick pay' your employer might give you. 

Check what benefits you can get.

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. 

You might qualify 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.

Help with essentials like food and energy

If you need urgent help to pay for essentials like food, gas or electricity because of coronavirus, you could also apply to your local council for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

The council will check your eligibility. They're getting more money to pay out more grants because of coronavirus. 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 you local council on 

You can also check our advice about foodbanks and other emergency help

Going to work 

The government has said you should only go to work if your work can 'absolutely not be done 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 can carry on getting paid. 

Your employer can use the UK government's Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you while there’s no work to do. Find out how the scheme works.

If you’re off sick

You can get an ‘isolation note’ online to prove to your employer you need to stay off work. You can get an isolation note on the NHS website.

If you’re worried about going to work because of coronavirus

If you don’t go to work, your employer usually doesn’t have to pay you. They might decide to dismiss you from your job. You can challenge the decision to dismiss you if you think it wasn’t fair – check if your dismissal was unfair.

If you’re worried about getting coronavirus at work, ask your employer if you can:

  • work from home
  • change how you work so you have less contact with other people
  • change your working hours so you don’t have to travel when it’s busy

Your employer should do what they can to keep you safe from coronavirus.

If you’re pregnant, your employer has to make sure it’s safe for you to keep working. This is called doing a 'risk assessment' – ask your employer if they’ve done this. If the risk assessment shows your work’s not safe, check what changes your employer could make.

If you’re disabled, your employer might have to make changes to your work to help you do your job. For example, they might let you work from home or change how you work. This is called making 'reasonable adjustments' – check how to ask your employer to make reasonable adjustments.

If you're self-employed and need financial support

You may be eligible for support from the UK government's Self-employment Income Support Scheme - check if you're eligible.

Changes to benefits

The UK government has made changes that might affect the benefits you're already getting, or benefits you're going to claim. 

All face-to-face benefits assessments or appointments at the Jobcentre Plus are postponed until at least 19 June 2020.

This means you don’t have to go to:

  • interviews if you’re starting a claim for JSA, ESA or Universal Credit
  • medical assessments for ESA, Universal Credit or PIP
  • appointments with your work coach.

Find out more about changes to benefits because of coronavirus.

If you're not getting benefits, check what you could get

School closures and key workers

Most schools and nurseries in Scotland are closed. 

But the Scottish government has asked local councils to make 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.

There's more detail about who's a key worker on the Scottish government website, but the arrangements for your area are made by your local council. Many areas have set up 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 

Childcare over the Easter holidays

Learning and childcare hubs for children of key workers will be open over the Easter holidays. Check your local council's website for information. 

If you need to take time off to look after your children

Speak to your employer. Read more about taking time off work to look after a dependant on GOV.UK.

SQA exams in Scotland

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) exams in Scotland won't go ahead in 2020. Schools and colleges will contact learners with more information.

The government has asked schools and colleges to make arrangements for S4-S6 pupils to complete coursework or prelims remotely, if possible. They will not be allowed to attend school or another educational setting to do this

You should also check the Scottish Qualifications Authority website for updates

If you're planning to travel abroad

Government advice is not to travel right now unless you really have to - you can read more about if you have to travel on GOV.UK.

If you really have to travel abroad you should check up-to-date travel guidance on GOV.UK. It'll tell you which countries you shouldn't go to because of coronavirus. 

You should also contact your insurer and make sure you’re covered to travel - get the details of your cover in writing.

If you already have a holiday booked, check guidance from your travel agent, airline or other holiday provider. You might be able to rebook your holiday and go later in the year.

If you need to cancel your holiday because you’re ill or you’re following government advice, get in touch with your travel insurer to see if you’re covered for cancelling. 

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. You can also get advice from Consumer Advice Scotland.

If you think shops aren’t acting fairly 

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.

Advice for businesses

Most businesses and premises in the UK have been ordered to close. You can find a list of which businesses are allowed to stay open on GOV.UK.

Check the Find Business Support website for the latest 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.

Find details about support for businesses from the UK government, including the HMRC Job Retention Scheme, on GOV.UK. 

Advice for employers and employees affected by COVID-19 is available on the ACAS website. 

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