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    Coronavirus Information Hub

    Information, updates, support and advice for food and drink businesses impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak.

    As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to develop, there is a big collective effort in place to support the industry through an extremely challenging period.

    The situation is hugely variable depending on the sector and customer base, with huge disruption in the supply chain, recognising the effective closure of the hospitality market and major disruption to export markets.

    Over the last few weeks Scotland Food & Drink, alongside our industry partners, government and individual businesses, has worked through a number of key priorities. Below you’ll find all the latest developments, business and financial support available as well as key resources around workforce and social distancing in the workplace.

    Testing of key workers

    Access to Covid testing in Scotland has been widened and will now be determined via a?prioritisation matrix for key workers?that includes?food supply chain and food processing workers.?

    A new website has been established to improve the process of booking tests.?Eligible employers can register and refer staff for appointments or eligible key workers will be able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household.?To get a?login, employers of key workers should email?portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk. You can also self-refer using this portal?to sign up if you are a key worker and you, or a member of your family, is symptomatic.

    The test will confirm if a person - who is showing symptoms of the virus - actually has it.?It will not confirm whether they have had it and have now recovered.

    Click here for the full guidance

    Covid-19 - Guidance for food business operators and their employees

    Food Standards Scotland has developed guidance by outlining ways that physical (social) distancing can be applied in food manufacturing and processing premises, as well as other mitigation measures that can be implemented by these businesses to enable them to adhere to government advice for preventing the spread of Covid-19. Food business operators should refer to this document when considering Covid-19 prevention and control measures that are required for their own operations.?Click here to read the full guidance.?

    Updates & Announcements

    You’ll find the latest developments here as well as on LinkedIn and Twitter. We issue an update on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To get the update direct to your?inbox, sign up?here.

    Friday 22nd May

    The headline development since Wednesday has been the publication yesterday of Scotland’s route map out of Coronavirus restrictions. That, and other major developments, are summarised below.

    Coming out of lockdown and opening up Scotland

    The First Minister announced in Parliament how a phased unwinding of restrictions would pan out in Scotland.?You can find the full document here, with summary tables of what would be included across four distinct phases of easing restrictions.?Nothing will change until next Thursday (28 May) when it is planned to move to Phase 1.?Here are a summary of the main points, focusing on the issues relevant for the food and drink sector (and personal movements):

    • There are no fixed dates for the start of phases 2-4 (but see below for my sense of a likely timetable)
    • Everything is conditional on further positive progress in suppressing the disease (R remaining below one and not rising)
    • Phase 1 will be implemented on 28 May, presuming no rise in disease risk in the coming days.? At this stage, the main change is to the rules on social contact.? You will be able to meet one other household providing you are outside (including in a garden) and adhere to distancing.?You cannot travel out with your local area to do this or for other leisure activity. There are no major changes to business rules.
    • Phase 2: pubs and restaurants can open outdoor areas, with distancing
    • Phase 3: pubs and restaurants can open indoor areas, with distancing.? Accommodation providers can start to re-open.?You can drive beyond your local area for leisure.?
    • Phase 4: some mass gatherings can begin, subject to public health advice
    • On schools, pupils will begin returning from 11 August on a part-time basis
    • At all points, home/remote-working is the preferred approach.

    Timetable:?there are no indicative start dates for each phase.?However, the Scottish Government is committed to a three-weekly review as a minimum to determine the ability to move to a new phase (or elements with it). The four dates for three weekly reviews are 28 May, 18 June, 9 July and 30 July.?At this stage, it seems optimistic in the extreme that those dates would mark the move to each phase.?Ministers have made it clear there may be more than one three-weekly cycle between each phase.?Notably, the reference to schools re-opening is in phase 3, which might suggest a working assumption of August before we reach phase 3. Crucially, if R rises or the disease risk is deemed to increase in any way, restrictions would be reintroduced and we may go back a phase.

    Testing update

    The UK Government has announced that antibody tests will be made available for the first time next week.?Tests have been secured for devolved nations too, but it is down to Scottish Government to determine priority access.?In England, NHS and care workers will be prioritised in the first wave.?No decision has been taken yet in Scotland, but it would be safe to assume the same, initial prioritisation approach.?So it is unclear when it would be made available to other key workers (such as those in the food supply sector). It is important to note that the antibody test does not guarantee immunity for two reasons: there is no scientific consensus that reinfection is impossible and, secondly, there is no understanding of how long any antibodies remain effective.

    Quarantine rules

    Later today, the UK Government may announce the rules on quarantine for air passengers arriving in the UK. It is expected that seasonal workers in agriculture will be exempt from the standard quarantine rules and, instead, will be able to isolate on the farm/business that they are staying and working on.?Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for any detail that may emerge later.

    Manufacturing guidance

    The further guidance on ensuring Covid-safe operations has still not been published despite an expectation for over a week now that it was imminent.? We’ll share detail as and when anything is published.

    I hope you all manage some downtime over the weekend and our next update will be on Monday.

    Stay safe

    James Withers

    ?Previous daily updates can be found towards the bottom of this page.?

    Scotland Food & Drink Partnership Updates and Activity

    Collaboration is key to navigating what lies ahead and the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership is uniquely placed to help steer the food and drink industry through this unprecedented economic and health crisis.

    The Partnership, bringing together ten trade bodies, public sector bodies and the Scottish Government, are harnessing their experience and history of collaborative working to swiftly respond to daily challenges with one, coherent voice.

    Together, the Partnership is tackling each new challenge with tools and support specifically designed for the whole industry from timely joint industry statements to letter templates allowing our workforce to get to work.

    We’re conscious that there is a lot of communication on Covid-19 from many different angles. To try and create one simple gateway into the information being produced by our industry and public sector partners, we have put it all into one handy table.

    Support for Businesses

    This is a collection of some of the business support resources currently available.

    Support for Businesses - Financial Assistance

    Covid19 - Support for Businesses - Financial Assistance

    Find out more

    Support for Businesses - Business Help

    Covid19 - Support for Businesses - Business Help

    Find out more

    Support for Businesses - Webinars & Guides

    Support for Businesses - Webinars, Insights & Guides

    Find out more


    Here you will find information clarifying key workers, Food Standards Scotland official guidance regarding ongoing operations and social distancing and links to recruitment portals for food and drink businesses.

    Workforce - Adapting Your Workplace

    Covid19 - Workforce - Adapting Your Workplace

    Find out more

    Workforce - Key Workers

    Covid19 - Workforce - Key Workers

    Find out more

    Workforce - Recruitment

    Covid19 - Workforce - Recruitment

    Find out more

    Public heath advice

    This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.

    You can only leave your home:

    • to shop for basic essentials?– only when you really need to
    • to do one form of exercise a day?– such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
    • for any medical need?– for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
    • to travel to and from work?– but only where this is absolutely necessary

    If you are unwell

    For people showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus the UK Government is stressing the importance of seeking help online by using the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.

    What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

    Continue to stay at home if you have either:

    • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
    • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
    • a loss of normal sense of taste or smell

    To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home. If you have coronavirus symptoms and need help, from now on you should dial 111, not your GP. You only need to call 111 if your symptoms worsen and are unmanageable, or do not improve after 7 days.

    Use of face coverings

    The evidence on the use of face coverings is limited, but there may be some benefit in wearing a facial covering when you leave the house and enter enclosed spaces, especially where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people you do not usually meet. Examples include, traveling on public transport or entering a food shop where it is not always possible to maintain a 2 metre distance from another customer. There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors, unless in an unavoidable crowded situation, where there may be some benefit.

    By face coverings we do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf.

    We are recommending that you consider using face coverings in the limited circumstances described above as a precautionary measure. Given that the evidence of impact on transmission is relatively weak, the public use of facial coverings is not being made mandatory and will not be enforced at this stage. However, we will keep this guidance under ongoing review as we consider any easing of lockdown restrictions in the weeks ahead.

    Full details can be found here.

    Previous updates

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