Where we are now
Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis was published on 21 May 2020. It set out a phased approach to exiting from the lockdown announced by the First Minister on 23 March 2020.
Inevitably, opening parts of our economy and society has provided new opportunities for the virus to spread and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland's Strategic Framework was published on 23 October 2020, setting out how we will work to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible and tackle the four harms we know the virus causes.
This framework sets out new approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection consisting of four levels above the Route Map Phase 3 baseline (or 'Level 0') as set out below:
Level 0 (baseline) and Level 1
Within these levels, we would expect to see low incidence of the virus with isolated clusters, and low community transmission. Broadly, these levels are the closest we can get to normality, without a vaccine or effective treatment in place, before conditions will allow us to move to Phase 4 of the Route Map. They would be similar to the measures in place during the summer, once we reached Phase 3. The Baseline and Level 1 are designed to be sustainable for longer periods.
Within Levels 2 and 3, we would expect to see increased incidence of the virus, with multiple clusters and increased community transmission. There would be a graduated series of protective measures to tackle the virus, focusing on key areas of risk – broadly, indoor settings where household mixing takes place with less, or less well-observed, physical distancing and mitigations. The measures would be intended to be in place for relatively short periods (2-4 weeks), and only for as long as required to get the virus down to a low, sustainable level.
Within this level we would expect to see very high or rapidly increasing incidence, and widespread community transmission which may pose a threat to the NHS to cope. It is likely that this level would see the introduction of measures close to a return to full lockdown. Measures would be designed to be in place for a short period, to provide a short, sharp response to quickly suppress the virus.
To judge whether and when restrictions can be changed we will consider a range of evidence on the progress of the pandemic in Scotland using the principles set out in the framework document.
The safety of people – customers, employees and business owners – is the number one priority and we are working with retailers to ensure that people can still shop safely. Guided by the need to ensure shopping is safe, we want people to use their local high streets, towns and city centres, to ensure that crowding is avoided, that good hygiene measures are in place and that physical distancing is maintained at all times.
A full list of businesses that can remain open during Level 4 is in the Health Protection (Coronavirus)(Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Level) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.
This guidance should be read in conjunction with our 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 website from Scottish government that contains information on how getting tested and what you need to do.
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, as well as your employees.
There has been an unprecedented package of support announced from both the Scottish and UK Governments to support businesses. This support should help many employers preserve their business, maintain jobs and pay their workers throughout this crisis. Information on this support is available through findbusinesssupport.gov.scot. We urge all businesses to make use of this.