Where we are now
The First Minister announced that Scotland would be entering a lockdown on 23 March 2020. Under law, the Scottish Government must review that lockdown at least every three weeks (most recently on 9 July 2020). The Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis, was published on 21 May and sets out the phases by which we will aim to ease lockdown. They will be gradual and incremental and will be matched with careful monitoring of the virus. The restoration of public libraries are expected to be able to proceed from Phase 3 with preparatory work for ensuring physical distancing and enhanced hygiene measures able to take place during Phase 1.
Physical distancing duties are set out in regulation 4(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. A person who is responsible for carrying on a business or providing a service must take all reasonable measures:
- to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between members of the same household or a carer and the person assisted by the carer)
- to ensure that they only admit people to its premises in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain that distance
- to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any person waiting to enter the premises (except between members of the same household or a carer and the person assisted by the carer)
This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors, staff on zero hours contracts, and volunteers, as well as your employees.
Public libraries should therefore use this guidance to look forward and engage with trade union or workforce representatives to develop workplace specific plans for a managed transition away from current restrictions, allowing sufficient time for that joint work. And while those plans should be fully developed, with measures put in place and tested where possible, they should not be implemented until after 15 July. Decisions on the phasing of a sector wide return for public libraries will be made in line with the route map.
Decisions around restoring services and what that might look like will be made by local authorities to suit the local context and services may be restored with a phased approach determined by library services . These decisions will be made in line with Scottish Government decisions and Public Health Scotland guidance. This guidance should be applied for all phases of restoring services.
We have initiated a broad collaborative process to develop sectoral guidance which will underpin that managed transition and provide clarity and confidence to public libraries, employees and local communities, protect public health and concurrently optimise economic recovery. Aligned with that we are reviewing and enhancing testing and enforcement arrangements, and ensuring that the guidance is coherent and connected, recognising for example transport and other inter-dependencies.
We are working with the UK Government to align our approach and guidance, where possible and on the basis of scientific evidence on the levels of infection in Scotland. This guidance is intended to work alongside and build upon UK Government guidance and aims to assist employers, businesses and their workforce ensure a safe working environment and readers will recognise consistent themes within this guidance with the UK Government’s Working Safely during COVID-19 publications.
This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Scottish Government’s business and physical distancing guidance which still applies.
Other key guidance includes:
- HPS: COVID-19 Non Healthcare Settings guidance which provides information on the background to COVID-19, symptoms, general principles of infection prevention and control and health protection measures and what to do if someone becomes unwell on site.
- NHS Inform which has a wide range of useful public facing information including information on symptoms and what to do
- Test and protect - contains information on how getting tested and what you need to do