SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, Gail Ross (pictured) has called on communities to work together in the face of the public health emergency facing the country.
Speaking today, Gail Ross said:
“I realise this is a hugely worrying time for a lot of people and businesses and we are doing all we can to get advice and support out to everyone that needs it.
“My staff and I had to make the decision to close the office and we are working from home but we are still here to help anyone that needs it.
“Please get in touch by phone or e-mail if you are worried or need to ask about anything at all and we will do our best to help.
“One of the things that has been brought to our attention on several occasions is to ask people to stop panic buying.
“There are older and vulnerable people that haven’t been able to access necessities like toilet roll and paracetamol.
“Supermarkets have assured the public that there is more than enough to go around.
“There are also some fantastic examples of people helping each other out all over the constituency.
“If you have a group or organisation that you would like people signposted to, please get in touch and we can pass your details on.
“I would also like to pass on my thanks to all our NHS staff and everyone else working in our Health Service. We appreciate the essential work that you do more than ever.
“The main thing is for people to stay calm and safe and we will get through this together.”
Current advice from both the Scottish and UK government is for people over 70 and those in vulnerable health groups to work from home if they can and practice ‘social distancing’; which is keeping away from people as much as possible but still being able to exercise outdoors and see family as long as the correct hand hygiene is followed.
People with symptoms of a new, persistent dry cough or a fever are being asked to self-isolate for a minimum of seven days and family members in the same house to stay at home for fourteen days to see if they develop symptoms.
The Scottish Government have put in place a £2.2 billion package of measures to help businesses that are struggling; including 12 months of rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism; £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief and £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000 amongst others.
Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell also announced a raft of measures aimed at vulnerable individuals and the third sector, including:
a £70 million Food Fund will help organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors address issues of food insecurity, especially for older people, and families who may not be able to rely on free school meals.
a £50 million Wellbeing Fund will help charities and others who require additional capacity to work with at-risk people who may be worst affected by the crisis, including homeless people and those experiencing fuel poverty.
a £40 million Supporting Communities Fund will be used to support the rapidly growing and inspiring community efforts at a local level which will be vital to national resilience, including supporting people at risk because of age, isolation, carers, homeless people and asylum seekers and signposting people to sources of help such as applying for benefits.
£50 million will go to meet an anticipated increase in applications for the existing Council Tax Reduction Scheme and Scottish social security benefits.
£20 million will be allocated to a Third Sector Resilience Fund, to help ensure the health and continued viability of the third sector organisations affected by cash flow and other problems, which have a key role to play in our national response.
£25 million will be kept in reserve to allow swift and flexible responses to rapidly changing circumstances.