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First Minister's update to the Scottish Parliament - 05 January 2022 - Perthshire Chamber of Commerce

First Minister's update to the Scottish Parliament - 05 January 2022

The First Minister is currently providing an update to the Scottish Parliament. Following our discussions with Scottish Government officials, we are able to provide the  following details:
COVID-19 stats:

- 16,103 positive cases were reported yesterday – that is 26.9% of all tests carried out.
1,223 people are in hospital with Covid. 71 more than yesterday - and 544 more than at this time last week.
- 42 people in intensive care, the same as yesterday.
- A further 5 deaths have been reported, taking the total number of deaths under the daily definition to 9,872.

Current situation:

- Covid is significantly more widespread now than at any stage in the pandemic so far, and will almost certainly become even more so in days to come. This, of course, has extremely serious implications for the NHS and social care.
- But it also has a severe and increasing impact on the economy and other critical services.
- This is primarily due to very high numbers of people off work with Covid - but it is compounded by the wider requirements for self-isolation.
- The Scottish Government have been considering very carefully the risks and benefits of changes to self-isolation.
- More generally, we are not proposing any new protective measures today.
- However, with the virus so prevalent, SG do consider it important to continue to apply some brake on transmission, particularly in settings posing the highest risk.
- SG confirm that the restrictions on large gatherings, the requirement for distancing between groups in public indoor places and for table service in hospitality venues serving alcohol on the premises will remain in force for now and, likely, until 17 January.
- While not a legal requirement, SG are continuing to advise the general public to limit contact with people in other households as far as possible, and to limit the number of households in any indoor gathering that does take place to a maximum of three.

Changes to self-isolation requirements:

- Scottish Government are now proposing two changes to the self-isolation rules, and one change to the requirement for PCR testing. All of these changes will take effect from midnight tonight.
- The first change to self-isolation applies to those who test positive for Covid.
- While the initial advice when someone tests positive will still be to self-isolate for 10 days, there will now be an option to end isolation after 7 days as long as you, firstly, have no fever and, secondly, you record two negative lateral flow tests, one no earlier than day 6 after testing positive and another at least 24 hours later.
- The second change applies to close contacts of positive cases - including household contacts - who are either under the age of 18 years, 4 months, or who are older than that and fully vaccinated. By fully vaccinated, we mean first, second and booster or third doses.
- For close contacts in these categories the requirement to self-isolate will end and be replaced by a requirement to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days.
- Anyone identified as a close contact who is over 18 years and four month and not fully vaccinated will still be asked to self-isolate for ten days and take a PCR test.

Change to testing advice:

- For those with symptoms of Covid, the advice remains to book a PCR test.
- And the advice to everyone is to test regularly with lateral flow devices, especially before meeting up with others.
- However, from tomorrow, if your lateral flow test is positive there will no longer be any need to take a PCR test to confirm the result.
- Instead, you must immediately isolate and also report your result online so that Test & Protect can commence the contact tracing process and give you advice as quickly as possible. - You will also receive an online form that you must fill in to ensure your contacts are notified.

Business Support:

- Last week, SG confirmed the allocation of more than £200 million of the £375 million in business support we are making available.
- Today, SG can confirm the allocation of a further £55 million.
- Up to £28 million will be allocated to taxi and private hire drivers and operators.
- £19 million will support services such as beauticians and hairdressers.
- £5 million will be provided for sport, and an additional £3 million for tourism.
- Local authorities are now working to get money in bank accounts as quickly as possible.

Potential changes to the requirement for pre-departure testing:

- Discussions have been taking place today between the four UK governments about possible changes to travel rules, including the requirement for pre-departure testing.
- If these discussions result in proposed changes, we will inform parliament as quickly as possible.

You can read the full statement from the First Minister by clicking here


Commenting on the First Minister’s Covid-19 update, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“Businesses will welcome the changes that the Scottish Government have made to the self-isolation requirements.

“These changes should have a positive impact on businesses ability to operate and allow employees to return to work safely, whilst also safeguarding public health.

“Additionally, greater alignment and an enhanced four-nations approach towards testing is a positive step in the right direction and many businesses who were struggling due to staff shortages will now be able to open their doors again.”

On financial support for businesses:

“The announcement of additional targeted funding for some of the hardest hit sectors of our economy is welcome, however, the financial support being made available still falls considerably short of the losses businesses have incurred over the festive period due to the enhanced Omicron restrictions and guidance that remain in place.

“It’s vital that the Scottish Government and local authority partners now keep their foot on the accelerator to ensure that financial support is paid out as a matter of urgency.

“Scotland’s businesses need to see restrictions lifted as soon as possible and we urge the Scottish Government to go further and faster in their removal as part of the next three-week review.”

On home working:  

“Businesses and employees want to see a clear end date for the current working from home requirements.

“Protecting staff morale and supporting employee’s health and wellbeing is reliant on giving them options on where they want to work.

“Offices are a vital part of our town and city centre economies and without the return of office worker footfall, businesses are continuing to suffer, leading to job losses and permanent closures.

“Businesses, in consultation with our employees, are best placed to take decisions on safe office return and hybrid working plans, and it’s important that Government enable this again as soon as practicable.”

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