Seafood Scotland are working with key stakeholders, government and partners on the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak. This unprecedented event is a catastrophic threat to the entire seafood supply chain in Scotland. The worldwide impact to the sector is not an overnight fix but we are working relentlessly to ensure that the impact of this and the support that is required by businesses is conveyed to government for urgent action. Please be assured that we are all working together to push for solutions to the sector’s crisis.

 

One of the lessons from any crisis situation is the importance of clear communications. We therefore will put out daily communications to the industry giving updates. We are in constant dialogue with our food & drink specialists in market to get the latest information and insights throughout our key export markets and we will give updates on these markets as part of the daily update.

 

Scotland Food & Drink are also communicating daily updates on the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak to all of the Food & Drink sector in Scotland , and will cover the latest situation with the outbreak and the advice to businesses and on public health. We will therefore combine the information given by them which is relevant to the seafood sector alongside our update.

Daily Updates

2nd April

Fish Market Information

There was slightly more fish hitting markets over the course of today. Prices remain strong, but supplies are still very low. This morning Peterhead had 483 boxes (40% monk) and Shetland 677 boxes (40% whiting). KLB will have a small market later tonight of 200+ (export mix). 

Reports for tomorrow currently showing another small market in Pd of approx. 600 ( all Rockall fish consigned from UL) and Scrabster has reported in with 1 boat for 167 boxes of mainly haddock and whiting. Shetland showing 380 boxes Friday from 2 boats, with another boat still to report.

There will be more haddock on PD market from tomorrow, so we should get a better idea of where the remaining fresh trade demand for bigger sizes is at.

Locally efforts to get more vessels back to sea are being hampered by the weather.  While there is a short lull between tomorrow and Saturday, Sunday into Monday now looking poor also with a southerly f6, gusting f8 forecast.   On the west coast the boats on the edge could get worked over the weekend but the forecast is currently giving what could be a fairly punchy Atlantic depression forming west of Rockall moving NE up and over the Wyville Thomson Ridge as we move into Monday.   If the forecast is correct by P.M. Monday the Northerly grounds, especially up and around Shetland will be taking the brunt of it.

The forecast aside we still hope that several boats will make a move by Monday, but given the delay the weather will cause, it is estimated that it could be a week yet before auctions market increase beyond current minimal levels.

 

Market Assessment

Local

We are currently working with Scotland Food & Drink to develop a portal to promote local selling activity that is taking place. We are continuing to promote activity through social media at present so please feel free to send us any information you wish us to be communicated out.

UK

At a UK level we are working with Scottish Government to develop a campaign to get more seafood into UK retail.

Export

At Seafood Scotland we have access to in-market specialists in number of key markets across the world. We have received market intelligence on a number of key markets which I have summarised and attached for information. Tonight I have focussed on France, Italy, Spain, Middle East, USA and China. We will continue to update this information for you.

I have also attached a poster I was send by Paul Thomson from JK Thomson, his daughter in law designed this for their office, a little bit of humour.

 

Scotland Food & Drink Update

The additional guidance from Food Standards Scotland, mentioned yesterday, was published this morning. See below for the link. This is really important official guidance and it should be treated as the go-to place for information on how to maximise social distancing and worker protection, at the same time as continuing to maintain food/drink production and supply. The new guidance incorporates some of the best practice information we had shared previously. You can also use this as a risk assessment tool within your own business. It will also be a helpful mechanism to engage with the workforce and give them even further confidence on the steps you’re taking to protect them and the business. Thanks to FSS for the work on this, which aligns with advice across the rest of the UK.

There’s one bit of feedback we’re asking for from you over the next 24 hours – around access to government financial support, in particular the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. There have been a number of reports of problems and delays. We hear that changes may be coming and there’s reports the Chancellor may overhaul the scheme very shortly. In particular, by removing the requirement for banks to consider all other lending options first. That is one likely reason that money is not flowing as quick as it should. All feedback welcome via info@foodanddrink.scot.

Other areas to tell us about include updates on your staff absenteeism. It still seems to be levelling out at around 10-15% on average. But we know it is spiking more sharply in some businesses. Secondly, the haulage industry is under significant pressure. Over 40% of the UK fleet is parked up just now. The wheels of delivery are still moving but any issues should be reported to us.

We’re also working with Seafood Scotland and other industry partners and Scottish Government on campaign work to encourage people to buy local. A central portal for the public to access direct delivery is being explored too. All of this would help to find new customers for products now locked out of export and foodservice markets. We will keep you updated on progress.

Lastly, Scottish Government officials are working hard on the next phase of financial support for the sector. The seafood processing sector has been at the sharp end of the impact, so measures for them, alongside options for the wider sector, are in development. Expect to hear more in tomorrow’s daily update on that.

 

Important New Guidance from Food Standards Scotland: COVID-19 – Guidance for Food Business Operators and their Employees

In these challenging times, it is essential for the food sector to prioritise the safety of their staff as a critical resource and to ensure all of their employees are following government guidance on infection prevention and control measures against COVID-19.

Whilst there is currently no evidence that food is a source of the virus, it is more important than ever for food businesses to implement effective Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS), including the application of frequent and thorough hygiene practice.

This guidance has been developed to supplement generic guidance for consumers and food businesses which has been published by Food Standards Scotland and on the Gov.uk website.

It intends to translate Scottish Government guidance on ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): business and social distancing guidance’ and the advice published by Health Protection Scotland for Non-Healthcare Settings for application in food manufacturing settings. This guidance also takes account of guidelines produced by the food industry on practical ways to provide a safe working environment at this time.

 To access this important new guidance please click here.

 

Best Practice and Tips from Industry: Social Distancing Measures in the Workplace

In addition to the official guidance (above) we have collated a number of tips and best practices from businesses and partners regarding social distancing in the workplace. These tips are offered to enhance and supplement the FSS Guidance and businesses have told us they are proving useful as they implement new ways of working. The tips can be found here (updated 1 April).

We’d like to thank all the businesses and partners who contributed and shared their learnings. If you have helpful resources or tips that you’d like to share, please send them to info@foodanddrink.scot

Job Hub

Skills Development Scotland has developed the My World of Work Job Hub, a new free service, offering employers a way to advertise immediate job vacancies in Scotland during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Find out more and upload your vacancies.

If you have any suggestions for development of the site please feedback via info@foodanddrink.scot 

Redundancy support service

The Scottish Government has enhanced its support service for those made redundant as a result of COVID-19.  Advice is available at redundancyscotland.co.uk or by calling 0800 917 8000. 

Scotland Food & Drink Partnership updates

We’ve pulled together a table of the comprehensive updates, activity and support available across the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership. To access this great resource, please click here. 

Latest UK Retail Sales Figures Insight

Data partner IRI has shared with the SF&D Market Intelligence Team one of the most up-to-date pictures available (sales data to 28th March) of what is happening in the turbulent UK multiple retail market. After media stories of stockpiling, empty shelves and product shortages this report details the real changes taking place in demand and supply in UK supermarkets.

Report Summary

  • Last week’s grocery sales were lower than the same week in 2019. UK value sales in grocery were -3.8% lower which equates to £64.1m value sales (w/e 28th March 2010)
  • Some categories experienced growth (vs the same week in 2019). These include lager, fresh chicken, fresh beef, prepacked cheddar, and prepacked sausages
  • Other categories showed decline (vs the same week in 2019). These include sandwiches, chilled ready meals, cakes, water, and lunch salads

To access the full report please click here.

VisitScotland Business Impact Survey

VisitScotland has released the second wave of their survey that is tracking the effects of Coronavirus on the industry. As well as gaining insight into the overall impact on Scottish tourism, it is also generates understanding across different regions and business sectors, including food and drink activities. The survey results can be found here

Coronavirus Business Toolbox

Letters and employee briefings

Travel to work pro-forma letter, word version template, click here.

Childcare Request pro-forma letter, word version template, click  here.

Employee social distancing briefing example, click here.

 

Guidance and tips

Social distancing best practice tips, click here.

Food Standards Scotland social distancing guidance click here

Business Support Measures

Overview, key links and application status update on food and drink relevant financial support measures can now be found here. 

Business Gateway is releasing webinars across Scotland to help businesses through COVID-19.  Topics range across such as staffing issues, managing business debts, government funding and rates relief. To find out more and to register, please click here.  

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

Sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on Coronavirus guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.        

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660

Public health advice: Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of Coronavirus

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

 

Health advice

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)

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.

 

1st April

Today I have been answering a lot of queries from individuals and trying to seek clarity on a number of issues. Every day things are changing and more clarity begins to emerge with some of the questions being asked, guidance and FAQ’s are being developed and amended according.

Please find attached again the guidance and Q&A regarding furloughing of staff and how the payment structure for this will operate, a template letter for furloughing staff and also key worker movement letter. I will always put amended versions on the page so you can keep up to date with the latest guidance and will highlight any key points of change. Food Standards Scotland are currently making amendments to their guidance and will be published in due course and will give you these when I receive them.

Please keep your questions coming in.

Please be assured that Scottish Government are working hard to finalise an intervention scheme that will support the processing sector and an announcement will be made very soon.

 

Scotland Food & Drink Update

We are keeping a close watching brief on workforce absentee levels with very variable level of absence reported across the country and between individual businesses. Please keep information flowing to us on changes on this and general impacts of the outbreak on your operations. We are involved in daily calls with our fellow industry bodies and with government and it’s your information shaping the responses being developed. As always, you should email info@foodanddrink.scot with a briefing on your current situation.

A reminder too that yesterday saw the launch of the new workforce recruitment platform, which could be a very useful mechanism for businesses seeking to fill emerging gaps in their own workforce. The link to that is below.

Many of you continue discussions in your own businesses on social distancing and building further protection for workers that have to be on site to keep food and drink supply moving.  There may be further guidance issued from Food Standards Scotland (FSS) later. In the meantime, the business section in the Q&A from FSS remains the go-to place for official guidance. We also have the SF&D best practice guide available too. Links to both are below. 

Job Hub

Developed by Skills Development Scotland, Job Hub has been launched on behalf of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership.

Job Hub is a free service which enables employers across Scotland to quickly and efficiently advertise vacancies to a broad audience through Scotland’s dedicated careers resource My World of Work. 

Redundancy support service

The Scottish Government has enhanced its support service for those made redundant as a result of COVID-19.  Advice is available at redundancyscotland.co.uk or by calling 0800 917 8000.

Social distancing within food businesses

A reminder that Food Standards Scotland has published a Q&A for consumers and businesses. Many of the calls we’ve had are answered within this guidance on social distancing and other safety measures.

Best practice and tips from industry on how to maintain social distancing measures in the workplace

This is not official guidance but is proving useful for many businesses we’re told. We will continue to develop and expand these tips as we learn more. The tips can be found here (updated 1 April).

We’d like to thank all the businesses and partners who contributed and shared their learnings. If you have created your own guidelines or have come across any helpful resources please share by sending to info@foodanddrink.scot 

Employee social distancing briefing

Some food and drink businesses have found it helpful to issue a briefing to employees, detailing the measures being taken to maintain social distancing and provide regular updates on company guidance. Click here for an example sent to us from a member. 

Scotland Food & Drink Partnership updates

We’ve pulled together a table of the comprehensive updates, activity and support available across the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership. To access this great resource, please click here. 

Personal Skills Learning Resource

The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) has collated some of its top resources for the personal skills needed to cope with immediate changes to working life. These can be accessed here

 Business Gateway webinars

Business Gateway is releasing webinars across Scotland to help businesses through COVID-19.  Topics range across such as staffing issues, managing business debts, government funding and rates relief. To find out more and to register, please click here.  

Kantar – COVID-19: Ensuring Resilience in Retail

If you missed yesterday’s webinar with the Kantar UK team answering questions about the impact and implications the Coronavirus pandemic is having on retailers, manufacturers and people’s shopping behaviour you can now listen to a recording. Click here to access. 

Public health advice: Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of Coronavirus

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

Letters and employee briefings

Travel to work pro-forma letter, word version template, click here.

Childcare Request pro-forma letter, word version template, click  here.

Employee social distancing briefing example, click here.

Guidance and tips

Social distancing best practice tips, click here.

Food Standards Scotland social distancing guidance click here

Business Support Measures

Overview, key links and application status update on food and drink relevant financial support measures can now be found here. 

 

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

Sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on Coronavirus guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.        

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660.  

Coronavirus update

152,979 people in the UK have been tested for the virus of which 29,474 were confirmed positive. Of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 2,352 have died.

The actual number of people with the respiratory infection in the country is estimated to be much higher.

A total of 17,007 people in Scotland have been tested. Of these:

  • 14,697 tests were confirmed negative
  • 2,310 tests were positive
  • 76 patients who tested positive have died

Health advice

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)

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.

31st March

The key issue the seafood sector faces today still remains that supply and demand need to match. The sector are all trying hard to find a new way of working to ensure catches are landed in a timely manner in the correct volumes with the current demand from processors who are still operating.

It is therefore vital that you continue to feed into the sales agents what your requirements will be and will allow everyone to be able to plan for supply matching demand over the coming weeks.

We have good guides to share with you; a roadmap for employers who are considering furloughing staff, and a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme FAQs. I have also attached again the key workers movement letter. If any companies are having any labour issues because of staff absenteeism can you please let me know.

We continue to wait on official guidance for car sharing travelling to and from work, however, the advice we have been told at present is only people living in the same household can car share. I will share official guidance as soon as I receive this.

If you have any issues you wish to raise, please do not hesitate to contact me and I if I don’t know the answer I will find out.

 

Scotland Food & Drink Update

Today, we’ve been raising a few issues that further clarification is required on.  Some of the exact rules around the furlough of workers are still to be confirmed. In particular, the ability of furloughed workers to support workforce gaps in other sectors is being explored.   

On travel restrictions, there are some reports of police stopping vehicles with staff that are car sharing in order to get the work. Further official public health advice is being sought to help clarify for the police – and for our businesses – what the enforcement advice should be.

In other developments today, Scotland Food & Drink has joined six of its industry partner organisations in signing a letter co-ordinated by FDF Scotland to all of Scotland’s MPs and MSPs. It highlights the work being undertaken by businesses and our workforce to keep the nation’s food and drink supply chain moving. A link to the letter is below.

Also today, a new workforce platform to connect those looking for work with those needing additional workforce has launched. This will add – and provide a central connection to – the many other excellent initiatives happening on this subject. See more information below.

Scotland Food & Drink Partnership updates

We’ve pulled together a table of the comprehensive updates, activity and support available across the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership. To access this great resource, please click here.

Recognising the valuable role of the Scottish food production supply chain – a letter to MPs & MSPs

Today FDF Scotland co-ordinated a letter signed by industry partners to MPs and MSPs across Scotland highlighting the valuable role that the food production supply chain is doing by providing high quality food to front line workers and the Scottish population, during this unprecedented time. Read the full letter. 

Job Hub

Today, sees the soft launch of Job Hub developed by Skills Development Scotland on behalf of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership.

Job Hub is a free service which enables employers across Scotland to quickly and efficiently advertise vacancies to a broad audience through Scotland’s dedicated careers resource My World of Work. 

If you have any suggestions for development of the site please feedback via info@foodanddrink.scot

Home delivery  

Many producers and independent retailers are turning to home delivery as an option to reach local customers in self-isolation or unable to travel to their local shop.

The Association of Convenience Stores has issued new guidance on how to start a home delivery service. This can be found here.

Business Gateway webinars

Business Gateway is releasing webinars across Scotland to help businesses through COVID-19.  Topics range across such as staffing issues, managing business debts, government funding and rates relief. To find out more and to register, please click here.    

April 6 Employment Law Changes – The Good Work Plan

Though Coronavirus is currently dominating the headlines, there are huge employment law changes that have to be legally implemented by 6 April 2020.

Known as The Good Work Plan, these are designed to give greater protection to those working under more flexible work arrangements. They will impact every single business in the UK, such as through changes to holiday pay calculations and the increased protection of agency workers.

To help get your head around the changes, here are two free guides that the HR & Employment Law experts of our partner, Citation, have put together:

 

Social distancing within food businesses

A reminder that Food Standards Scotland has published a Q&A for consumers and businesses. Many of the calls we’ve had are answered within this guidance on social distancing and other safety measures.

Best practice and tips from industry on how to maintain social distancing measures in the workplace

This is not official guidance but is proving useful for many businesses we’re told. We will continue to develop and expand these tips as we learn more. The tips can be found here.

We’d like to thank all the businesses and partners who contributed and shared their learnings. If you have created your own guidelines or have come across any helpful resources please share by sending to info@foodanddrink.scot 

Employee social distancing briefing

Some food and drink businesses have found it helpful to issue a briefing to employees, detailing the measures being taken to maintain social distancing and provide regular updates on company guidance. Click here for an example sent to us from a member. 

Public health advice: Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of Coronavirus

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

 

Coronavirus Business Toolbox

Letters and employee briefings

  • Travel to work pro-forma letter, word version template, click here.
  • Childcare Request pro-forma letter, word version template, click  here.
  • Employee social distancing briefing example, click here.

Guidance and tips

  • Social distancing best practice tips, click here.
  • Food Standards Scotland social distancing guidance click here

Business Support Measures

Overview, key links and application status update on food and drink relevant financial support measures can now be found here. (updated 31 March)

 

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

Sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on Coronavirus guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.        

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660.  

Coronavirus update

In the UK there are more than 22,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus and at least 1,408 people, who have tested positive for the virus, have died.

More than 112,800 people in the UK have been tested for the virus but were found not to have it. The actual number of people with the respiratory infection in the country is estimated to be much higher.

A total of 15,895 people in Scotland have been tested. Of these:

  • 13,902 tests were confirmed negative
  • 1,993 tests were positive
  • 60 patients who tested positive have died

Please note: delays to reporting over the weekend have contributed to the increase in total test figures and deaths confirmed today.

Health advice

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)

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.

 

29th March

You will see from the SF&D update below the partnership has been working on a number of issues today including ensuring Police Scotland now have the template letter we have provided for your employees to travel too and from their workplace. We are also busy working with Scottish Government to look at support mechanisms.

The key issue the seafood sector faces today in ensuring that supply and demand match. A large number of companies responded to my email on Friday regarding the requirement to temporarily close their businesses due to lack of orders as export and food service markets collapse. It has become apparent over the weekend with statements made from both the UK and Scottish Governments that this lockdown will not be a 3 week short lockdown and then things start to go back to normal. This lockdown and market restrictions will be here for the coming weeks possibly 3 months and what then becomes normal?

We need to ensure that companies that have a market, however limited, can as far as possible, have a supply of fish to process. The fishermen also need assurances that there are buyers for their fish once it is landed and also that the prices are not going to collapse. There was no market in Peterhead today with only private sales taking place, there will be one tomorrow. Many of the processors will have seen the email that SSA put out today about the need for us all to work together to find a workable solution in these unprecedented times we are undergoing. We need to all find a new way of working and ensure that the catching sector are working on demand of supply from the processors. It is therefore vital that you feed into the sales agents what your requirements will be moving forward.

Seafood Scotland, SFF and SSA have had very productive conversations with Scottish Government regarding the promotion of Scottish seafood today and are progressing with this and we will keep you all informed of the progress.

Please continue to ask questions and feed in information.

 

Scotland Food & Drink Update

At the start of week two of ‘lockdown’ there continues to be a range of priority issues for the Scotland Food & Drink team, working with partners, government and individual businesses. 

Over the weekend a number of you have shared more information on the significant changes you’re implementing to embrace the social distancing requirements. 

Workforce absence is starting to rise based on reports we are receiving; it probably sits at around 15% on average across the sector. Please keep sharing your own situation, it helps inform the daily discussions between the industry organisations and government. Please drop us a note via info@foodanddrink.scot.

The template travel letter we issued to assist workers who may be questioned on their movements has now been shared with Police Scotland.  Please report any issues your essential workers face in travelling to work.

We’d remind businesses that there is no further requirement for PPE for your staff, beyond what would normally be required. It will be important we don’t add to the national demand for those products, the priority for which needs to be frontline NHS staff. 

There is also a great deal of work going on to address product supply gaps and to explore how products previously destined for export and the out of home markets could be redirected to meet retail, convenience and home delivery demand. 

In addition, discussions continue with government on business support measures.

Scotland Food & Drink Partnership updates

We’ve pulled together a table of the comprehensive updates, activity and support available across the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership. To access this great resource, please click here.

Enterprise Agencies

Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise have today (30 Mar) published an open letter, outlining their joint commitment and actions to support Scottish business as they respond to the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These actions seek to complement the unprecedented financial and economic measures outlined by the Scottish and UK Governments over the past week or so. 

Business resilience

The Scotland Food & Drink team is working hard to create a new guide to business continuity and resilience, and we hope to be able to bring you this within the next few days.

Tomorrow, Tue 31 March, two of our partners are hosting seminars to share their respective industry knowledge on a wide range of key resilience related issues.

Kantar – COVID-19: Ensuring Resilience in Retail

  • Join the Kantar UK team to hear about the impact and implications the Coronavirus pandemic is having on retailers, manufacturers and people’s shopping behaviour. To find out more, join Kantar on Tuesday 31 March at 2pm GMTfor a webinar where a team of Kantar retail experts will share findings from daily, weekly and monthly panel data, how to win the mircro-battles and their opinions on what is next for retail. Please find the registration link here

Shepherd and Wedderburn – COVID-19 Food and Drink Sector Webinar update

  • In this food and drink focused webinar, Shepherd and Wedderburn’s legal experts take a sectoral look at some of the core COVID-19 related issues, examining staffing, frustration of contract, competition law, and the licensing and regulatory impact of the recent Coronavirus Act. Please find the registration link here

 

Social distancing within food businesses

A reminder that Food Standards Scotland has published a Q&A for consumers and businesses. Many of the calls we’ve had are answered within this guidance on social distancing and other safety measures.

Best practice and tips from industry on how to maintain social distancing measures in the workplace

This is not official guidance but is proving useful for many businesses we’re told. We will continue to develop and expand these tips as we learn more. The tips can be found here.

We’d like to thank all the businesses and partners who contributed and shared their learnings. If you have created your own guidelines or have come across any helpful resources please share by sending to info@foodanddrink.scot 

Employee social distancing briefing

Some food and drink businesses have found it helpful to issue a briefing to employees, detailing the measures being taken to maintain social distancing and provide regular updates on company guidance. Click here for an example sent to us from a member.

Public health advice: Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of Coronavirus

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

Coronavirus Business Toolbox

  • Letters and employee briefings
    • Travel to work pro-forma letter, word version template, click here.
    • Childcare Request pro-forma letter, word version template, click  here.
    • Employee social distancing briefing example, click here.
  • Guidance and tips
    • Social distancing best practice tips, click here.
    • Food Standards Scotland social distancing guidance click here
  • Business Support Measures
    • Overview, key links and application status update on food and drink relevant financial support measures can now be found here.

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

Sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on Coronavirus guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.        

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660.  

Coronavirus update

A total of 19,522 cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK – but the actual number of cases is estimated to be much higher.

The number of deaths is now 1,228 according to the latest figures available.

A total of 14,624 Scottish tests have concluded. Of these:

  • 13,061 tests were confirmed negative
  • 1,563 tests were positive
  • 47 patients who tested positive have died

Health advice

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)

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.

27th March

Many of you will have received an email from me today asking if your business has closed, intends to close today or remain open for operations next week. Thank you to everyone who got back to me.

The seafood sector has been hit very badly in this crisis, with the loss of export markets and food service markets it has caused a large number of businesses to temporarily close. All the leaders of the seafood and fisheries sector are working tirelessly to ensure that the businesses who can continue operations have the infrastructure to remain open. We are also supporting the supply chain to ensure they have real time information to react to any increase in market activity so businesses can increase production and indeed reopen as soon as possible. We really do appreciate all feedback we receive from you to allow informed decisions to be made. Food production and seafood is of essential importance to feeding the nation during this time and we are all essential workers in supporting the country during this crisis.

I would like to thank the team at Seafood Scotland, the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership, SFF, SSA, Scottish Government officials and countless others for all their hard work, many of it behind the scenes to work towards getting the correct information to you and looking at how we can best support the sector during this time.

26th March

One of today’s priorities has been around clarifying guidance for within food and drink businesses on social distancing.

Food Standards Scotland has this morning issued guidance which mirrors that issued by Public Health England, so it is consistent across the UK. It addresses the two-metre, social distancing rule which has been the subject of many questions we’ve received. See below for the link.

The Scotland Food & Drink partnership has also moved to support our businesses who have workers for whom it’s absolutely essential to travel to work. We’ve had reports of police questioning some workers about their movements so the industry trade bodies have produced a template letter for companies to use and for workers to have with them when travelling (this has not happened in the seafood sector yet to my knowledge). There is also one developed to help with childcare requests. These are attached.

Enquiries have also came in regarding furlough letter template for employees and I have attached a template. We have been asked regarding availability of PPE such as facemasks etc, it is becoming increasing difficult for businesses to purchase these are the first priority for these goods are going to front line health care staff.

Help for Self Employed has been announced this evening of direct cash grant of 80% of their profits, up to £2,500 per month

  • The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
  • To qualify, more than half of their income in these periods must come from self-employment.
  • To minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.
  • The income support scheme, which is being designed by HMRC from scratch, will cover the three months to May. Grants will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all 3 months, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June.
  • Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational.
  • Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme but will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes.
  • For the self-employed who have yet to submit your tax return for this year have been given 4 weeks to file.

Just a reminder of the Corona virus fund for Seafood Fishing Industry that was announced

  • The seafood sector is to receive an initial package of more than £5 million in financial support to assist businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Funding will be offered to over 650 seafood fishing companies, many of whom have lost their livelihoods with the collapse of export and hospitality markets for Scottish delicacies like langoustine, prawns and crab.
  • An initial payment of 50% of two months’ average earnings will be made to owners of all full time Scottish registered fishing vessels of 12 metres length and under – the vast majority of which are in the creel and dive sectors, many of whom operate in remote and island communities.
  • Support is also being developed for the onshore processing industry – one of the largest employers in Scotland’s coastal communities – and others in the shellfish growing sector which is being affected by the loss of trade and markets.

Marine Scotland will be writing to all vessels and relevant representative Associations with more details. Queries can be emailed to: seafisheriesintervention@gov.scot. More details can be found at:

https://www.gov.scot/news/support-for-seafood-fishing-industry/   

We still await the funding announcement for support for the processing sector

 

Travel to work and childcare request pro-forma letters

The Scotland Food & Drink Partnership has worked to produce two pro-forma letters for food and drink businesses to issue to relevant employees.

The first of these is to help those for whom it is absolutely essential to travel to work – for example in the case of being stopped by the police.

The second letter template is to request childcare provision for those employees who are essential to the ongoing operation of manufacturing and supply.

Thanks to David Thomson of FDFS for co-ordinating this work.

 

Social distancing within food businesses

Food Standards Scotland has published a Q&A for consumers and businesses. You can find official guidance to many questions regarding social distancing and other safety measures.

https://www.foodstandards.gov.scot/consumers/food-safety/coronavirus/questions-and-answers-covid-19

On the two metre rules it says: “Food businesses need to minimise opportunities for the virus to spread by maintaining a distance of 2 metres between individuals wherever possible.” See the link above for the full guidance. 

 

Best practice and tips from industry on how to maintain social distancing measures in the workplace

The First Minister has advised essential businesses to maintain social distancing measures in the workplace. To support food and drink manufactures in protecting their workforce from Covid-19, Scotland Food & Drink has pulled together best practice tips being used by members of the food and drink business community.

 

This is not official guidance. This might not be relevant to all businesses but we hope that by building a community of practice it provides some support to businesses during this trying time.

We will continue to develop and expand these tips as we learn more. An update from today, 26 March can be found here.

We’d like to thank all the businesses and partners who contributed and shared their learnings. If you have created your own guidelines or have come across any helpful resources please share by sending to info@foodanddrink.scot 

 

Public health advice: Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of Coronavirus

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

 

Request for businesses involved in food supply – stay open if you can

Businesses involved in food supply should remain open if possible, subject to being able to adhere to two requirements:

  • safe social distancing practice
  • normal health and safety requirements.

If you cannot meet both these requirements, the Scottish Government guidance is to close.

Alongside this guidance we would reiterate our guidance to businesses to reduce staffing levels on site to the bare essentials required to operate.

 

Business Support Measures

Overview and application status update on key food and drink relevant financial support measures can now be found here.

This includes:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund £10k Grant
  • Deferring VAT payments
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate for SMEs
  • Non – domestic Rates Relief
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • HMRC Time to Pay scheme

Specific support for:

  • Scotland’s seafood fishing industry
  • Retail, leisure and hospitality
  • The self-employed

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

Sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.        

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660

 

Coronavirus update

A total of 9,529 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK – but the actual number of cases is estimated to be much higher. The number of deaths is now 463, according to the latest figures available.

More than 87,490 people in the UK have been tested for the respiratory infection but were found not to have it.

As of 2pm on 26 March, a total of 11,487 Scottish tests have concluded. Of these:

  • 10,593 tests were confirmed negative
  • 894tests were positive
  • 25patients who tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) have died.

Health advice

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)

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.

25th March

We welcome the £5m funding announcement from Scottish Government to support the 12metre and under fleet and further details of this can be found below.  We have spent a lot of time today answering calls and emails looking for further guidance for businesses regarding ongoing operations and social distancing. There is formal advice due out imminently from Food Standards Scotland for food and drink businesses and we are in dialogue with Scottish Government and Marine Scotland, however below you will find latest government advice which will provide a huge challenge for the seafood supply chain. 

It’s been a busy day working on other issues too. We are working on a pro-forma letter for businesses to issue to employees for whom it is absolutely essential to travel to work, we have had reports from the agricultural sector of the police questioning some staff heading to their workplace and challenging their movements outside of the home. FDF Scotland is co-ordinating that work amongst the industry partners. If anyone feels they need this urgently please contact me.

 

Coronavirus support for seafood fishing industry

Extra payments to help sector through outbreak.

  • The seafood sector is to receive an initial package of more than £5 million in financial support to assist businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Funding will be offered to over 650 seafood fishing companies, many of whom have lost their livelihoods with the collapse of export and hospitality markets for Scottish delicacies like langoustine, prawns and crab.
  • An initial payment of 50% of two months’ average earnings will be made to owners of all full time Scottish registered fishing vessels of 12 metres length and under – the vast majority of which are in the creel and dive sectors, many of whom operate in remote and island communities.
  • Support is also being developed for the onshore processing industry – one of the largest employers in Scotland’s coastal communities – and others in the shellfish growing sector which is being affected by the loss of trade and markets.

Marine Scotland will be writing to all vessels and relevant representative Associations with more details. Queries can be emailed to: seafisheriesintervention@gov.scot.

More details can be found here  

Request for businesses involved in food supply – stay open if you can

Businesses involved in food supply should remain open if possible, subject to being able to adhere to two requirements:

  • safe social distancing practice
  • normal health and safety requirements.

If you cannot meet both these requirements, the Scottish Government guidance is to close.

Alongside this guidance we would reiterate our guidance to businesses to reduce staffing levels on site to the bare essentials required to operate.

 

Further guidance to employers published by the Scottish Government

Points that employers should consider:

  • Working with unions and workers to identify only those staff absolutely necessary to deliver the COVID-19 response and to provide essential and safe services
  • Introducing new shift patterns, working from home, recruiting more staff or dropping non-essential tasks
  • Having discussions with staff to identify if they can access any appropriate alternative childcare. This may include another parent or carer who is not a key worker

More on this updated guidance can be found here

 

Best practice and tips from industry on how to maintain social distancing measures in the workplace

The First Minister has advised essential businesses to maintain social distancing measures in the workplace. To support food and drink manufactures in protecting their workforce from Covid-19, Scotland Food & Drink has pulled together best practice tips being used by members of the food and drink business community.

This is not official guidance. This might not be relevant to all businesses but we hope that by building a community of practice it provides some support to businesses during this trying time.

We will continue to develop and expand these tips as we learn more. Please read the daily bulletin to stay up to date. The tips can be found here.

We’d like to thank all the businesses and partners who contributed and shared their learnings.

If you have created your own guidelines or have come across any helpful resources please share by sending to info@foodanddrink.scot 

 

Public health advice: Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of Coronavirus

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

 

Vehicle MOT Extension

  • The Secretary of State for Transport announced today (25.03.20.) that he is granting an MOT temporary exemption. This means that if your MOT is due from 30th March 2020 you will automatically receive a Six-month However, you must still keep your vehicle in a roadworthy condition and garages will remain open if your vehicle need repairs.

 

Business Support Measures

Overview and application status update on key food and drink relevant financial support measures can now be found here.

This includes:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund £10k Grant
  • Deferring VAT payments
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate for SMEs
  • Non – domestic Rates Relief
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
  • HMRC Time to Pay scheme

Specific support for retail, leisure and hospitality:

  • 100% rates relief
  • Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund £25,000 Grant

Support for the self-employed

  • Tax payment on account deferrals

 

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

Sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660.

 

Coronavirus update

A total of 8,077 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK – but the actual number of cases is estimated to be much higher. The number of deaths is now 422, according to the latest figures available.

More than 82,300 people in the UK have been tested for the respiratory infection but were found not to have it.

As of 2pm on 25 March, a total of 10,676 Scottish tests have concluded. Of these:

  • 9, 957 tests were confirmed negative
  • 719tests were positive
  • 22patients who tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) have died.

In most western countries case numbers have been increasing by about 33% a day. More than 436,000 people infected globally. The number of people confirmed to have died as a result of the virus has now surpassed 19,600. 

 

Health advice

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)

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.

 

24th March

Clearly, the announcement by the UK Government and Scottish Government of national ‘lockdown’ is the most significant development since yesterday’s update. The over-riding concern for both administrations is public Health. How this will impact the seafood sector will be significant.

New public health advice: Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of Coronavirus

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

Request for businesses involved in food supply – stay open if you can

Businesses involved in food supply should remain open if possible, subject to being able to adhere to two requirements:

  • safe social distancing practice
  • normal health and safety requirements.

If you cannot meet both these requirements, the Scottish Government guidance is to close.

Alongside this guidance we would reiterate our guidance to businesses to reduce staffing levels on site to the bare essentials required to operate

What this means is the fishing fleet, processing facilities and others within the supply chain, you MUST be able to ensure ALL workers are operating at a social distance of 2 metres. This will have serious implications for the sector in the coming weeks while this is still in place.

Key worker status. Originally clarification of food production staff being a key worker was being sought from individual local authorities as this was only referring to access to school childcare, whilst this is still the case for childcare there is also identification of key workers in the food production supply chain requirement to be able to leave their homes and attend their place of work.

At present under current guidelines if you are a food production company who is currently supplying the marketplace you will be allowed to continue in your operations. However you must adhere to the social distancing and normal H&S requirements. You must also ensure non-essential staff stay at home. Only staff that are critical to the production facility are to travel into the workplace. So for example all admin, marketing etc must stay at home. People will be stopped and asked to prove key worker status and their place of work and we are working with Scotland Food & Drink to pull together a pro forma letter that you can complete for your staff to carry with them if you don’t already have anything in place. This will come out tomorrow.

The current supply and demand situation is also proving very challenging with a tough day at markets today. Work is taking place with various organisations tirelessly to try and help manage the situation and understand the new demand with lockdown. Things are changing rapidly and with the formal guidance of the 2m social distancing this will have further impact on both the fishing fleet and processing sector’s ability to operate at present.

At Seafood Scotland we are still keeping abreast of the situation both in the UK and internationally to ensure that when markets start to open up we have the market intelligence to put in place marketing effort to rebuild trade and relationships. We are still keen to be putting any positive news out on social media and we have put together a plan to support local consumption of local product with recipe ideas, demonstrations etc.

Business Support Measures

Overview and status update on all financial measures here.

Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support

Businesses can now apply for grants to help them deal with the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

Small businesses in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief, as well as hospitality, leisure and retail business can benefit.

Two types of grant are now available to ratepayers:

  • a one-off £10,000 grant to ratepayers of small businesses
  • a one-off grant of £25,000 available to retail, hospitality and leisure business ratepayers with a rateable value between £18,001 and £50,999

The list is not exhaustive and if businesses think they may be eligible for one of these grants, they should contact their local authority, which are administering the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government. Some Local Authorities may not have updated their websites yet, but will hopefully do so shortly.

Further details available here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

The UK Government has pledged to cover 80 % of the wages of furloughed workers backdated to March 1.

Some information to note: 

  • Do companies have to pay the additional 20 per cent? No. Companies should pay 80% of workers’ wages up to £2,500 a month once they have been furloughed. They will retrospectively be able to claim for that amount.
  • They should pay workers using normal payroll systems, deducting tax and national insurance under the pay as you earn (PAYE) system. If employers want to top up pay levels, they can, but will not be able to claim for more than 80% of £2,500, equivalent to a gross salary of £2,000. 
  • The big outstanding issue is what happens to employers’ national insurance contributions, which amount to about 13.8 per cent of the majority of a worker’s salary. This has not been decided yet. 
  • HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement and are ‘aiming to get it done before the end of April.’

How can companies without cash flow pay their workers’ wages?

  • The main source of funds for this will be the deferral of value added tax payments for the quarter until June 2020 which do not have to be paid until March 2021. 
  • Officials told the Financial Times that there would be no interest payable on these VAT deferrals.If tax deferrals and other measures announced by the chancellor such as business rate relief in some sectors are inadequate, the Treasury wants companies to borrow in the short term. Officials said that to do this they should look at the business interruption loans (details in the summary).
 

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

Sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660

We are aware that food and drink manufacturers are looking for guidance on how best to implement social distancing measures in the workplace. The Scotland Food & Drink team are pulling together guidelines as we speak and will issue shortly.

 

Coronavirus update

United Kingdom Cases 

Confirmed: 6,650
Deaths: 335
Recovered: 135 

A total of 9968 Scottish tests have concluded. Of these:

  • 9384 tests were confirmed negative
  • 584 tests were positive
  • 16 patients who tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) have died

The number of new cases in the UK and Scotland is expected to rise sharply in the next four weeks and then peak in June.

Health advice

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. 

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.

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)

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.

23rd March

Seafood Scotland Update

The weekend’s work has been dominated by the “key worker” issue, alongside digesting the significant funding announcement made by Chancellor on Friday night.  You will have seen that the status of “key worker” for food production will be decided on an individual local authority basis. With 32 local authorities this creates a confusing picture and many of the local authorities are still working through the categories only prioritising key health care workers at this moment in time. At present the “key worker” status is to determine childcare provision. We will inevitably move into a different “key worker” status if/when a lock down occurs and we are working hard to ensure critical workers to help feed the nation in the sector and supply chain are identified on this list. We are working with Scotland Food & Drink and other F&D trade bodies as one voice on this issue and you will find more detail below including the press release that went out today. We also need to reiterate calls that you need reduce staffing levels to the lowest possible number and that staff who can work from home do so. The more people we can keep out of the workplace and schools the quicker we can stop the virus from spreading.

On the funding announcement we are still trying to get as much clarity on up to 80% support for employee costs so we can to signpost everyone to the full details. Systems and processes need to be put in place and as soon as we have these details we will communicate these to you.

A question we have been asked a lot today is how social distance on the production line is undertaken, at present we cannot find any formal guidance on this but we are trying to gather this information for you and hopefully tomorrow we will get this out to you all.

A lot of discussions are taking place regarding fishing effort and assessing the daily market demand for seafood and we really appreciate everyone’s continual effort to ensure that this will work as best as it can. Difficult decisions have to be taken short term but lets hope we are on a path to recovery very quickly. We are assessing the international markets on a daily basis to stay ahead of the curve to ensure there is enough product on the marketplace as soon as demand increases again.

Thank you to everyone who is providing information, a lot of requests are happening from a lot of different organisations and we appreciate your patience and understanding. We are all working together to provide data required by industry, stakeholders and governments and to minimise requests.

 

Action for businesses to take now

The full statement issued by the industry this afternoon is available here:  https://foodanddrink.scot/news/covid-19-food-and-drink-businesses-asked-to-reduce-staffing-to-bare-essentials/

In summary, we are asking food and drink businesses to do the following, if they have not done so already:

  • Reduce staffing levels to the lowest possible number required to maintain the production of essential goods
  • DO NOT contact your local authority to make the case for key worker designation unless it is the measure of last resort. All other measures must be explored first (e.g. shift changes, halting some production lines, alternative childcare arrangements)
  • If you do contact your local authority, only seek designation for “business critical” roles.

 

Will key worker designation have relevance in a “lockdown” scenario

A so-called ‘lockdown’ situation, which has been introduced in a number of European countries, remains an imminent prospect in the UK.  In this scenario, it is expected that the movement of individuals across the country will be severely restricted for a period of time.  All but essential services would halt. 

The definition and role of ‘key workers’ in this situation is unclear. At present, we hope and expect that many businesses will be able to find innovative ways to manage staff absence resulting from the school closures, illness and current self-isolation advice.  Some will find real difficulty with that, hence our request for national guidance on prioritising essential food production and supply for childcare places, where there are absolutely no alternatives.  However, in a lockdown scenario, new mechanisms will be required to ensure we can safeguard the movement of the workforce required to safeguard the production and provision of essential food and drink products.  The industry bodies have begun thinking on this and are already discussing this scenario with Scottish Government.  We’ll update you as and when things develop.

 

Latest Business Feedback Summary

The key information provided to us by businesses for: 23.03.20.

  • Growing financial pressure on many food and drink businesses, with a resulting need for quick translation of the UK/Scottish Government funding announcements into action.
  • Businesses now taking tough decisions re shift patterns and shift reductions.
  • Companies adapting and setting up delivery of their products.
  • Some manufacturers trying alternative products (e.g. hand sanitiser)
  • Online or ecommerce food / drink businesses increasing awareness of their offering
  • Hospitality businesses adapting to home delivery

New Package of Support from UK Government

(For more details please see the Johnston Carmichael website) 

Key announcements:  

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

  • The UK Government will pay wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Access to the scheme

  • First step is to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change. 
  • It is not clear whether directors and shareholders of owner-managed companies can put themselves ‘on furlough’, or how it affects zero hours workers.
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal.
  • NB (from Accountancy Daily): ‘There is limited information available and no technical guidance from HMRC as yet.  HMRC will have to create a new IT software system to run the scheme. This will take until April to complete.’

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) 

  • CBILS is available through the British Business Bank’s 40+ accredited lenders, which are listed on the British Business Bank website here.
  • In the first instance, businesses should approach their own provider – ideally via the lender’s website. They may also consider approaching other lenders if they are unable to access the finance they need.
  • Decision-making on whether you are eligible for CBILS is fully delegated to the 40+ accredited CBILS lenders. These lenders range from high-street banks, to challenger banks, asset-based lenders and smaller specialist local lenders. 
  • Bank letter templatehere to help you invoke the CBIL Scheme and request to freeze all payments of interest, capital and any fees

Bridging loan scheme

  •  Further to the Bridging Loan announcements earlier this week, the Government are reviewing an extension of the scheme to include larger and medium-sized businesses. We expect further announcements on the details next week.

VAT

  • The next quarterly VAT payment is to be deferred. Payments are deferred from now until end of June and companies will have until the end of the financial year to pay any deferred VAT.

Tax Payment on Account

  • To assist the self-employed the 31 July 2020 Income Tax Payment on Account is being deferred and is to be paid on 31 January 2021. 

Support for businesses paying tax

  • All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
  • These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to Covid-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

Non-domestic rates in Scotland

The Scottish Government has proposed help for companies in Scotland with non-domestic rates during coronavirus (Covid-19).  It is working with Scotland’s 32 Councils and other stakeholders to agree a common approach to the application process.

Deferring payment of non-domestic rates

If you’re struggling to pay your non-domestic rates bill you should contact your local council and ask them about your payment options.

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

Sign up for email updates from the Scottish Government on coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and advice for businesses in Scotland here.        

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660

The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the Covid-19 team. Please be aware that the helpline experiences a very high volume of calls.  

Information and Tools

 

  • Information on Statutory Sick Pay here.
  • Company Cashflow Toolbox

 

Coronavirus COVID-19 Update

The virus’s proliferation has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, meaning it is spreading rapidly in different parts of the world. More than 150 countries have confirmed cases so far. 

A total of 5683 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK – but the actual number of cases is estimated to be between 35,000 and 50,000.

The number of deaths is now 289, according to the latest figures available.

United Kingdom Cases 

Confirmed: 5,683
Deaths: 289
Recovered: 135 

A total of 9364 Scottish tests have concluded. Of these:

  • 8865 tests were confirmed negative
  • 499 tests were positive
  • 14 patients who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died

The number of new cases in the UK and Scotland is expected to rise sharply in the next four weeks and then peak in June.

 

Health Advice

For people showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus the UK Government is stressing the importance of seeking help online by visiting NHS.UK/coronavirus to check your symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting your GP.

Also:

  • People showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period.
  • Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should now stay at home for 14 days.
  • Those with underlying health conditions should be ‘’shielded’’ at home for 12 weeks.
  • Minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms
  • For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, they are strongly advised against these activities and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.
  • Avoid using public transport as much as possible
  • Work from home when possible
  • British nationals should also avoid all non-essential foreign travel, the Foreign Office has advised.
  • Follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching your face and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

19th March

Seafood Update

 

  • Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing is working on a package of support for the seafood sector to be announced soon. A number of support mechanisms are being considered – as soon as this is announced I will put out an update. (Apologies for putting wrong timelines in previous email)
  • Skippers and crew are being advised to continue fishing during this period of uncertainty.
  • Half landings, where possible, with fresher product to the market and less volume hoping to find the balance of ‘supply to demand’.
  • Days at sea also under consideration to again maintain balance of supply to demand
  • It’s vital we keep continuity of raw material to the market putting effort on species most in demand.
  • The onshore infrastructure needs support to ensure a healthy future.
  • Minimal disruption to the food supply chain – a target to hopefully achieve.
  • Recognition across the piece that we need to move from ‘react’ phase to response and action, and that applies across the piece – gov’t and all parts of industry.
  • Supporting SF&D case for seafood companies and key supply chain staff to be officially designated as ‘key workers’ and trying to get a better understanding of what a potential lockdown could look like for the sector.
  • Rumours are abound that Boulogne Sur Mer will close on Monday – this is not the case. This will remain open.
  • Independent Fishmongers reporting trebling of sales.
  • Social media campaign to buy and eat local with recipe ideas, cookery demonstrations etc to launch. If anyone has content they wish to provide or to highlight please pass on to enquiries@seafoodscotland.org

 SF&D action being taken, together with our partners

 

  • Making the case for food and/or drink manufacturing workers – and key supply chain staff – to be officially designated as ‘key workers’. This is essential for safeguarding ongoing food supplies to the public. Both Scottish and UK Governments are currently weighing the options for this and we hope to have a clearer picture on Fri 20th and we will let you know as soon as we can. 
  • Pushing for rates relief to be extended beyond hospitality and retail and into the food and drink supply chain. Also pushing for additional Government support – the primary action needs to be taken at UK level.  For example, a wholesale break on business tax for at least three months (VAT, employers NI etc.).
  • We are still highlighting the impact on food and drink businesses of unprecedented disruption in the supply chain (recognising the effective closure of the hospitality market and major disruption to export markets). We’re working closely with our industry partners to reflect the pressure across all sectors and working hand-in-hand with Scottish Government and its agencies
  • Exploring new routes to the UK market/consumers to pick up the sales drop in foodservice/export.

Non-domestic rates in Scotland during Coronavirus

 

The Scottish Government has provided new information regarding help with non-domestic rates in Scotland during coronavirus (Covid-19). Details can be found here.

Applying for a grant and getting paid

The Scottish Government is working with Scotland’s 32 Councils and other stakeholders to agree a common approach to the application process. This should help make sure there’s an effective and timely processing of grants as soon as possible.

Deferring payment of non-domestic rates

If you’re struggling to pay your non-domestic rates bill you should contact your local council and ask them about your payment options.

Business interruption insurance

 

  • SF&D spoke to 70 of our Scottish food and drink manufacturers yesterday. 97% do not have cover for Covid-19 within business interruption insurance. This is either because pandemics are not covered or that Covid-19 – a novel strain – is not on the list of recognised diseases.
  • The First Minister has committed to meet the insurance sector, UK Government too, and we will be feeding in the need for the insurance sector to play its part in supporting their customers. UK Government could explore under-writing the sector to pay out on interruption policies.

Scottish Government funding announcement

 

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop has confirmed (Wed 18 March) that Scottish businesses will get £2.2 billion of support

Support includes:

  • 6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year.
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief.
  • A full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.
  • Urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways.

In addition, it has been announced that Scottish schools will close at the end of this week. 

Latest general business feedback summary

The key information provided to SF&D by businesses for: 19.03.20

  • Smaller food and drink manufacturers, who are more reliant on foodservice customers, are facing immediate business challenges.
  • Some businesses who supply multiple retailers have seen a surge in demand.
  • One or two companies who sell online, direct to consumers, are reporting a sharp rise in orders. 
  • Reports from retail orientated companies of supply chain challenges in raw materials, especially if imported.
  • We are continuing to use the media to raise awareness on issues facing the Scottish food and drink supply chain. We want to highlight real business impact. If your business is willing to speak to the media, please get in touch with SF&D who are co-ordinating at info@foodanddrink.scot

 

Business help

The findbusinesssupport.gov.scot website is the best way to find the information you need in relation to Coronavirus (24/7). 

This is a fast-moving situation and the Scottish Government are working hard to expand the information available on the website so that businesses can get the answers they need.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on the site above, call the business helpline number on 0300 303 0660

The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the Covid-19 team. Please be aware that the helpline is experiencing a very high volume of calls.  

Please do not call to request more information on the range of measures announced by the Scottish Government on 18 March and by the Chancellor on 17 March. The call handling team have no further information at present.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

According to the UK Government website, here’s what you need to know:

  • If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home.
  • Employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of Covid-19 to others.
  • Those who follow advice to stay at home will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their absence from work.
  • Employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients.
  • Employees from defined vulnerable groupsshould be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

Legislation is being brought forward to allow small and medium-sized businesses and employers to reclaim SSP paid for sickness absence due to Covid-19. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will be as follows:

  • This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of Covid-19.
  • Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible – the size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020.
  • Employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of Covid-19.
  • Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note.
  • Eligible period for the scheme will commence the day after the regulations on the extension of Statutory Sick Pay to those staying at home comes into force.
  • The UK government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.

The Scotland Food & Drink team are keeping a close eye on the development of the SSP refund mechanism and will provide updates as soon as they become available.

Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. 

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to Covid-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

For Tourism businesses, VisitScotland has set-up an advice page which can be accessed here

For Hospitality businesses, the insight supplier CGA is supporting the market by publishing weekly trading data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, backed up by the results of regular snap consumer surveys. For more click here

Coronavirus Covid-19 update

 

A total of 2,626 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the UK – but the actual number of cases is estimated to be between 35,000 and 50,000.

The number of UK deaths is now 104, according to the latest UK figures available (18 March).

53,595 people in the UK have been tested for the respiratory infection and 65 people are said to have recovered.

As of 2pm on 19 March, there were 266 positive cases of Covid-19 in Scotland. So far, six patients in Scotland have died.

Health advice

 

For people showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus the UK Government is stressing the importance of seeking help online by visiting NHS.UK/coronavirus to check your symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting your GP.

People showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period.

Information required by Seafood Scotland

 

The situation is fast-moving and in order to successfully deliver the work above we need business impact information – as much as we can. We had many emails and messages yesterday, thank you. Please send all information including loss of sales, business fragility, cashflow problems, workforce absence and disruption in supply chain. Also, any other potential solutions or opportunities are welcome. Send all information to enquiries@seafoodscotland.org

18th March

Seafood Sector action being taken

  • After the announcement of the closure of supermarket fish counters to start tomorrow we are putting pressure on Scottish Government to urge retailers to reverse this decision. The Cabinet Secretary has a meeting with retailers tomorrow morning.
  • Pushing home the impact on Seafood sector within catching, processing and supply chain and how fragile this sector currently is and that it cannot withstand a period without support from government.
  • Working with processing sector to understand immediate requirement for landings to inform catching sector or volumes and species that will be require for current market demands.
  • Looking at different logistic options for exporting due to freight options being limited or very expensive for example dedicated air freight routes to US.
  • Dialogue undertaken to encourage secondary processors to switch some of requirement to locally landed species.
  • dialogue with retailers to look at how other species can be sold in UK retail.
  • Developing social media plan and potential platform to promote new ways of promoting and selling of Scottish seafood locally

Latest Seafood Business Feedback Summary

  1. Sectors of the fleet are facing very serious situation, but Government is listening and understands the need for urgent action – we are in regular contact.
  2. Fishing and seafood industries, working together, can make sure we will have a reliable supply of healthy, safe and nutritious food in the UK – modern, efficient fleet able to keep fishing, with processors delivering product that the market wants – so yes these are very difficult times, but we should have confidence in our ability to be an important part of keeping the UK fed.
  3. Export demand has continued to plummet especially within Europe with only a very small amount of product getting out of the country as orders continue to cancel. Product going unsold on French seafood markets. Markets in Middle East falling only supermarkets and pharmacies open here too.
  4. Real worry that Italian customers will not pay Scottish companies as they will go bankrupt with crisis.
  5. Sector needs information supplied by government to be user friendly.
  6. Catching and Processing sector continuing to lay off staff and this will become more prevalent in the coming days with the end of the week becoming a critical point.
  7. Sector need support from government of at least 50% of wage costs to support companies of all sizes to keep employing their trained staff.
  8. Sector needs financial aid package that does not include loans but puts cashflow into businesses to survive.
  9. A need to maintain supply chain for both inbound and outbound food and food production materials. 
  10. Cold storage is becoming scarce.

 

What did the Chancellor announce on Tuesday?

Key message: this is an economic crisis. The UK Government will do “whatever it takes”. There is more support to be announced. Crucially, we will hear later today (Wed 18th) from Scottish Government how this will fully translate to support in Scotland. The main elements of the Chancellor’s announcement are:

  • A series of government loans; £350 billion guarantees of economic support.
  • For SMEs, extending the business interruption loan scheme, which will offer loans of up to £5m, from next week.
  • A specific focus on hospitality: a cash grant of £25,000 per business (with a rateable value of less than £51,000) to support them during this period.
  • For the UK’s 700,000 smallest companies, cash grants of £10,000.
  • Additionally, the business rates holiday would be extended to all businesses in “most affected sectors” for 12 months. Currently that is only defined as leisure, retail and hospitality.
  • Mortgages providers will offer a mortgage holiday for three months 
  • Insurers to pay out business interruption insurance cover where it includes pandemics.

 

Scottish Government funding announcement.

As of 3pm (Wednesday 18 March), the First Minister had indicated the following, in response to the UK Government response:

  • Replicating yesterday’s UK Government’s package which will result in over £1.9 billion to support Scottish businesses with a commitment to passing on all consequentials from the Chancellor and “every penny” going to support Scottish businesses and employers.
  • £10,000 for businesses in small business rates relief and the rural business scheme and a freeze to the poundage rate over the next financial year.
  • A 12-month business tax relief will be implemented for properties in retail, hospitality and leisure and grants of up to £25,000 for those sectors with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000. An additional ask to the UK Government to reduce cost pressures on businesses by implementing tax holidays, PAYE breaks and a suspension of the Apprenticeship levy.
  • The First Minister will chair an urgent meeting with insurance companies and FISAB to look at how banks could best support individuals through the outbreak.
  • Guidance for local authorities to ease restrictions on pubs and restaurants becoming takeaways will be issued by the Chief Planner. All local authorities will be contacted to secure rates deferrals until next year and PACE programme support will be given to those made redundant by the crisis.
  • A commitment to Fair Work Convention principles remaining at the forefront of Government response with discussions between trade unions and the private, public and third sector continuing.

A Q&A is attached regarding support for Non Domestic Rates

In addition, it has been announced that Scottish schools will close at the end of this week.

 

James Withers appeared on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland today to outline the impact of the current crisis on our industry and what needs to happen now to support it. SF&D’s main points in response to the announcement are summarised below but if you’d like to listen to the full interview please click here.

  • Loans are not the best mechanism. Distressed businesses don’t need debt and interest payment, they need injections of cash.
  • The business rate holiday is welcome but must be broadened beyond hospitality to food and drink manufacturing.
  • Any tool that injects cash into companies, small or large, must be considered.
  • UK must think radically, exploring all options to make the business environment tax free for an emergency period of time, at least 12 weeks
  • In addition, the insurance industry must be approached immediately with regards to how they implement business interruption insurance, where many policies exclude
  • Public health is the top priority but in the long-term to protect lives Government must also protect livelihoods in order to drive the  recovery later in the year.

 

Business Help

Based at Scottish Enterprise’s call centre in Clydebank, advisers across Scotland will answer questions from businesses related to COVID-19.

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660

The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.

Please do not call to request more information on the range of measures announced by the Chancellor on 17 March. The call handling team have no further information at present.

To complement the helpline a new website has been created to keep businesses up to date with the latest guidance across a comprehensive range of important areas relating to COVID-19.  

More information on the Chancellor’s business support measures new will be added to this site shortly.

Click here  FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot. to access

Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. 

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

 

Coronavirus COVID-19 Update

The virus’s proliferation has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, meaning it is spreading rapidly in different parts of the world. More than 150 countries have confirmed cases so far. 

The epicentre of the coronavirus is now Europe, with the largest number of confirmed cases in Italy, and death tolls growing more quickly in Italy and Spain than they did in China at the same stage of the outbreak.

United Kingdom Cases 

Confirmed: 1,950
Deaths: 71
Recovered: 65 

As of 17 March, there were 195 positive cases of Covid-19 in Scotland following 4,895 tests, with 4,724 tests negative. So far, two patients in Scotland have died.

The number of new cases in the UK and Scotland is expected to rise sharply in the next four weeks and then peak in June.

This link https://www.foodstandards.gov.scot/consumers/food-safety/coronavirus  provides further information on Covid-19 and the risk management advice to the effect that:

The risk of contracting novel coronavirus (COVID-19) through the UK food chain is very low. There is currently no evidence to suggest transmission occurs through the foodborne route.  Therefore you are very unlikely to catch COVID-19 from food.

Health Advice

For people showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus the UK Government is stressing the importance of seeking help online by visiting NHS.UK/coronavirus to check your symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting your GP.

Also:

  • People showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period.
  • Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should now stay at home for 14 days.
  • Those with underlying health conditions should be ‘’shielded’’ at home for 12 weeks.
  • Minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms
  • For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, they are strongly advised against these activities and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.
  • Avoid using public transport as much as possible
  • Work from home when possible
  • Follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching your face and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing

Information required by Seafood Scotland

The situation is fast-moving.  The information businesses provide us fuels our effort in analysing impact and exploring mitigation options, financial or otherwise.  Please send Seafood Scotland all information including loss of sales, business fragility, cashflow problems, workforce absence and disruption in supply chain.  Also, any other potential solutions or opportunities are welcome. Send all information to enquiries@seafoodscotland.org  we will also feed this information directly into Scotland Food and Drink to allow this to feed into the wider food sector discussions.

17th March

SF&D action being taken

  • Highlighting the impact on food and drink businesses of unprecedented disruption in the supply chain, recognising the effective closure of the hospitality market and major disruption to export markets.
  • Pressing for UK Government support. The level of support required is enormous, well beyond the means of Scottish Government (but also exploring options for support at Scottish level).  Avenues being explored include tax relief, including a suspension of PAYE obligations, a holiday on VAT payment, grants to cover payroll costs.
  • Working with media to raise awareness of the impact on the Scottish food and drink supply chain.
  • Collating industry impact information to share with Government.

Seafood Sector action being taken

  • Highlighting the impact on Seafood sector within catching, processing and supply chain and how fragile this sector currently is and that it cannot withstand a period without support from government.
  • Pressing for UK government support to not only include what SF&D are highlighting but to include support for State Aid exemptions to allow support out with fisheries deminimis and to support large organisations, capital and interest loan holidays, support to allow fishermen to apply for recently announced grant aid of £3000, support for cashflow.
  • Looking at different logistic options for exporting due to freight options being limited or very expensive.
  • Developing up to date information on access to markets.
  • dialogue with retailers to look at how other species can be sold in UK retail.
  • collating what support is being offered to seafood sectors in other countries.
  • With the cancellation of major tradeshows including Boston Seafood show and Seafood Expo Global in Brussels we are working on plans to get market activity started as soon as it is possible.

Information required by Seafood Scotland

The situation is fast-moving.  The information businesses provide us fuels our effort in analysing impact and exploring mitigation options, financial or otherwise.  Please send Seafood Scotland all information including loss of sales, business fragility, cashflow problems, workforce absence and disruption in supply chain.  Also, any other potential solutions or opportunities are welcome. Send all information to enquiry@seafoodscotland.org  we will also feed this information directly into Scotland Food and Drink to allow this to feed into the wider food sector discussions.

Latest Business Feedback Summary

The key information provided to us by businesses will be summarised here daily.

  1. Export demand has plummeted with only a very small amount of product getting out of the country, either because of the closure of hospitality outlets or major disruption to traditional routes to market (airlines, haulage etc).
  2. Large parts of the foodservice market in UK will become affected with current government guidelines across hotel, bars, restaurants etc. 
  3. Shellfish sector are the most vulnerable sector with immediate action needed.
  4. Prawn prices are dropping and soon becoming unviable to fish for them and cold stores are filling up.
  5. We all need to work together to ensure that all decisions taken, are taken collectively to ensure there is a market and processing capability to match the catch being landed.
  6. Catching and Processing sector starting to lay off staff and this will become more prevalent in the coming days and weeks.
  7. Without the Easter trade internationally many companies will suffer as this is their busiest time out with Christmas.

 

Business Help

Based at Scottish Enterprise’s call centre in Clydebank, advisers across Scotland will answer questions from businesses related to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660

The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.

To complement the helpline a new website has been created to keep businesses up-to-date with the latest guidance across a comprehensive range of important areas relating to COVID-19.  

Click here  FindBusinessSupport.gov.scot. to access

Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. 

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

 

Update on virus spread

The virus’s proliferation has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, meaning it is spreading rapidly in different parts of the world. More than 150 countries have confirmed cases so far. 

The epicentre of the coronavirus is now Europe, with the largest number of confirmed cases in Italy, and death tolls growing more quickly in Italy and Spain than they did in China at the same stage of the outbreak.

United Kingdom Cases  (as at 16/3/20)

Tested: 44,105

Confirmed: 1,544
Deaths: 55
Recovered: 52 

 

There are 171 positive cases of Covid-19 in Scotland following 4,240 tests. So far, one patient in Scotland has died.

The number of new cases in the UK and Scotland is expected to rise sharply in the next four weeks and then peak in June.

Health Advice

For people showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus the UK Government is stressing the importance of seeking help online by visiting NHS.UK/coronavirus to check your symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting your GP.

Also:

  • People showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period.
  • Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should now stay at home for 14 days.
  • Those with underlying health conditions should be ‘’shielded’’ at home for 12 weeks.
  • Minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms
  • For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, they are strongly advised against these activities and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.
  • Avoid using public transport as much as possible
  • Work from home when possible
  • Follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching your face and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing

Please pass this email on to anyone who would be interested in this update and they can email enquiries@seafoodscotland.org to register to be added on to the distribution list.

Enquiries





Seafood Scotland, 1f1 Ratho Park One, 88 Glasgow Road, Newbridge, EH28 8PP, UK +44 (0)131 557 9344