Borders’ politicians welcome Prime Minister’s statement

Rachael Hamilton MSP and John Lamont MP have welcomed the Prime Minister’s latest statement updating the nation on the coronavirus pandemic.

People are being asked to stay indoors unless it is absolutely necessary. Under the new government guidance, you are able to leave for the following reasons:

•          Shopping for basic necessities, such as food and medicine, as infrequently as possible.

•          One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your immediate household.

•          Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 

•          Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

•          When moving children under the age of 18 between their parents’ homes. 

Even when taking part in these activities, people should adhere to social distancing measures. This means that you should stay more than two metres away from people that you do not share a household with. 

The guidance continues to be if you have either new and continuous cough and/or a high temperature you must self-isolate for 7 days if you live alone. If you live with others, everyone else in your household will need to self-isolate for 14 days.  

If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials. Try to find someone who can help you with this, such as friends and family or a volunteer. Although, you must ensure that you do not come into contact with them.  

As well as the new advice, both Mr Lamont and Mrs Hamilton welcome the support that is being offered to businesses at this unprecedented time too. 

The UK and Scottish Governments have announced packages of support for businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.  

A welcome announcement was that businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive 100 per cent rates relief from 1 April 2020, while grants of up to £25,000 will be available to businesses worst affected by COVID-19 and all businesses in Scotland will have their VAT payments for April, May and June deferred. 

For the first time in history, the UK Government is going to step in and help pay people’s wages. For smaller businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be able to claim back the cost of 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee from the government. 

Both Borders politicians believe that the support available will assist businesses through this difficult time, but has urged employers and business owners to read guidance thoroughly in order to identify support applicable to their business. 

Mr Lamont has spoken to Treasury ministers about the need to provide support for the self-employed as a matter of urgency. He has sought assurances from the Chancellor that details of a support package will be available soon.

Mrs Hamilton, in her role as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Tourism, has been seeking assurances from the Scottish Government on support for freelancers, the self-employed and clarification over the definition of ‘key workers’, as many people in this category are unclear as to whether they can attend work or if there is provision for their children to attend school.

Rachael Hamilton MSP said:

“The Prime Minister’s advice is crystal clear. Stay at home.

“Non-essential travel and social gatherings must stop immediately. The sooner we ensure fewer people pass on the virus, the sooner we flatten the curve of cases and the nation will make a speeder recovery.

“It is a very daunting time for all, but if everyone follows the advice, we will see a positive difference.

“What the Chancellor and Finance Secretary has proposed in the package of business support measures will ensure we can mitigate against the economic impact. 

“We must protect jobs and our vital supply chains too, so essential workers are allowed to head to work. 

“We’re all in this together; we must all play our part. Stay at home, protect our NHS and in turn, this will save lives”.

John Lamont MP said: 

“We are facing a public health and economic catastrophe like we have never seen before. We must all work together to beat it.

“I am keeping in constant contact with NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council, the Scottish Government and the UK Government. They are working day and night to keep us all safe. Borderers can do their part in saving lives by following the government advice. If we don’t, it will cost lives in our communities.

“Many people have been contacting me about their concerns. I would urge any of my local residents who are unsure about anything to please contact me. There is also a lot of information on my website.

“We will get through this as a country. But it is now time for us all to play our part in getting us through. The alternative does not bear thinking about.”