News

The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

Home Message Remains As Exercise Rules Ease.

The advice on how often people can venture outdoors has been changed.

People are now permitted to go outside more than once a day to exercise however this activity should continue to be undertaken close to home. Those going out to exercise should either go alone or with members of their household.

The change does not allow people to mix with people from different households, to gather in groups, or to go out to relax outdoors. 

The First Minister agreed the change following scientific advice using the framework set out by the Scottish Government last month. It was agreed that the timing was right to make the change because the impact on the vital R number – the rate of reinfection of COVID-19 – would be very limited.

 

Nicola at podium

The First Minister said:“The core principles of lockdown in Scotland remain the same, people should stay at home to help save lives and protect the NHS.

“We do not underestimate how difficult these measures are, particularly for those living alone, or living in smaller accommodation with children or without access to a garden or outdoor home space.

“The hard work which people across Scotland have put in to follow the guidance and stay at home means we are now able to change our advice for people to exercise outdoors more than once a day.

“It is vitally important that anyone going out maintains physical distancing and strict hygiene measures in order to ensure we don’t lose ground. We have also encouraged the public to consider wearing a facial covering in enclosed spaces, where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact people outwith their household.

“It also remains vitally important that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 – a new and continuous cough or a high temperature - isolates themselves for seven days, and that anyone else in a household where someone has symptoms, isolates for 14 days.

“This change on going outside will be monitored carefully and reviewed in order to assess the effects on physical distancing and infection spread.”

SOSE and partners welcome Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund boost from Scottish Government

Following Scottish Government’s announcement that the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund is being doubled to £90m nationally - South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) along with its Team South of Scotland partners at Dumfries and Galloway (D&GC) and Scottish Borders Council (SBC) are welcoming the news.

The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund provides grants to small and medium sized businesses which are potentially vital to Scotland’s economic future, or to the economy of local areas but which have been made vulnerable by this crisis. The fund remains paused for new applications while the two hardship funds for the newly self-employed and the creative, tourism and hospitality sectors remain open for applications.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE said: “We very much welcome this news from Scottish Government. This is a hugely challenging time and as the new Enterprise Agency for the South of Scotland, we are committed to doing everything we can to provide support wherever it is needed and that this support is tailored to individual needs and circumstances as we go forward. We continue to encourage businesses to apply for the range of existing support and to make sure they seek help and support that is available.” Interim Chief Executive of SOSE Nick Halfhide explained: “This is a very welcome announcement of a further boost in funds to be made available for small and medium sized businesses which are pivotal to the Scottish and indeed, our local economy. We are prioritising all our resources to support the Covid-19 response to support our local economy across the South and to also look ahead to the recovery.

“At this time, our focus is to process applications from both funds. We know this funding will prove a vital lifeline for many of our businesses and also be of particular value to some of the micro and SME businesses that are the lifeblood of many of our communities.

“We are reminding businesses that the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund is still on hold with further announcements to be made in due course. All information and application process is via the find business support website at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot

Both Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council continue to contribute to the economic response to covid-19 and are administering the Coronavirus Business Support Fund and the newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund. The second phase of the Business Support Fund went live this week and both funding application processes can be accessed via the Council’s websites.

 

Rob Davidson, DGCouncil

Depute Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Rob Davidson, said: “We continue to administer business grants and the Self-Employed Hardship Funding as quick as possible. As always, our priority is to make sure we do what’s necessary to release this much-needed additional money as quickly and as effectively as we can and we continue to ask for patience and understanding during this time. We also ask people to make sure they get in touch if they don’t know where to apply for support.”

 

 

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development said: “It is our aim to make sure people know what support is available and can access that support quickly and easily. We know we are quite unique in the South of Scotland in terms of our economy and rurality, therefore it’s going to be important for us to take stock of what the landscape looks like now and going forward. This extra funding we hope will have an impact on that but this is going to be a long journey of which partnership working will be absolutely key.”

 

Important links for Business Support in South of Scotland

The Self-Employed Hardship Fund and Coronavirus Business Support Fund is being administered by the two local authorities in D&G and Scottish Borders via the following: · Dumfries and Galloway Council - https://supportdg.dumgal.gov.uk local helpline - 01387 260280, · Scottish Borders Council - www.scotborders.gov.uk/covid19business local helpline - 01835 825600.

The Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund and Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund is being administered nationally in conjunction with South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) via the following: · Find Business Support - https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/coronavirus-advice or call 0300 303 0660.

For those who are still not eligible for these new national funds or any of the other existing funds or grants can contact SOSE for further support and advice at www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/contact or call 0300 304 8888.

SCC comment on the Prime Minster's address and next phase of lockdown measures

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s address on 10th May in which he set out a conditional plan for the next phase of the response to Covid-19, Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 

SCC CEO Liz Caeron

“The health and safety of all is our major priority. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has presented a road map, subject to review, as to how and when certain sectors of our economy could return.

“Companies will do everything they can to protect employees and customers, maintain social distancing and operate successfully so we need clarity on when more sections of the economy are permitted to re-open in Scotland.

“We urge the Scottish Government to update their framework for decision making to set out a return to work, as soon as it is possible, so that businesses in Scotland do not fall behind their counterparts in England. There is also a risk that variations in the approach between the nations will inevitably cause confusion for business owners and employees.

“We recognise the unique balancing act of decision making our politicians are currently undertaking to reflect different conditions and data on the spread of the disease. However, if we don't have clear line of sight out of lockdown, businesses will struggle to survive and struggle to protect livelihoods.”

Coronavirus Lockdown To Continue In Scotland For Further Three Weeks

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has formally extended Scotland's coronavirus lockdown. By law, the social distancing measures across the UK have to be reviewed every three weeks.

 

Image of Nicola Sturgeon - Scottish First Minister

However, Ms Sturgeon said it was too soon to make meaningful changes without risking a resurgence of the virus.

The UK government is expected to make a similar announcement later today, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to set out plans to ease lockdown on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon said she was due to speak to Mr Johnson later on Thursday, and said she "will not be pressured into lifting restrictions prematurely, until I am as certain as I can be that we will not be risking a resurgence in infection rates".

She said her preference was for the four nations of the UK to move together, but said any decisions "must be taken with great care" that she would "continue to err on the side of caution".

Ms Sturgeon said it was thought the infection rate in Scotland "might still be higher than in other parts of the UK", possibly reflecting the fact that the first cases of Covid-19 north of the border came later than in England.

The Scottish government has published a paper of options for starting to lift restrictions - but warned that "extreme caution" will have to be exercised.

COLLAPSE IN RELATIONS BETWEEN UK AND DEVOLVED GOVERNMENTS PUTS BORDERS COMMUNITIES AT RISK, WARNS SOUTH SCOTLAND MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that the collapse in relations between the UK and devolved Governments will put borders communities at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

ColinSmythMSP

The local MSP was commenting after the UK Government ditched the “four nations” approach in the fight against Covid-19 and announced a unilateral change in its key messaging, along with proposals to begin the exit from lockdown in England.

The ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ message previously used by the UK Government has now been replaced by one urging people to ‘Stay Alert, Control the virus, Save Lives’.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments say they were not consulted or told in advance of the change and intend to stick to the message that people should ‘Stay Home’.

The Prime Minister also said people who could not work from home should return to the workplace if it is in England- but avoid public transport.

He said he hoped the next step "at the earliest by 1 June" would be for some primary pupils to return to school in England.

The moves by the UK Government come on the back of a recent statement by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland “will not hesitate” to diverge from UK policy on when it may lift the coronavirus lockdown.

It was revealed last week that the Scottish and UK Government were developing separate phone apps for each side of the border to detect the spread of the Covid-19.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “It is clear that the relationship between the UK and devolved Governments is in a state of collapse. When we need all Governments across the UK to be working together, the mixed messages are bad news for borders communities.

“Of course each Government needs to make decisions on when to exit the lockdown based on the circumstances in their area. But at the very least they need to be consulting with each other and ensure they consider the unique impact their decisions have on people living near the border.

“This is clearly not happening. It seems it’s a return to politics as usual with the borderlands once again becoming the forgotten region.

“Much has been said about the Prime Minister’s announcements on relaxing the lockdown only applying to England but in fact it has huge implications for people who live in Scotland but work south of the border. They will now be unsure when they are expected to return to work, and if they have children, Borders and Dumfries and Galloway Councils will come under pressure to add them to their list of key workers so they can access childcare.  

“There will be a real worry that the signal from the Prime Minister that people can travel by car to exercise could see an increase in visitors to tourist hot spots in Scotland. Unlike the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government failed to make this an offence in Scotland so there is little they will be able to do to enforce a ban.

“With so many people in borders communities travelling in normal times between Dumfries and Galloway and Cumbria and the Borders and Northumberland every day for work, health, education and leisure, the UK and Scottish Governments need to understand that the decisions they both make, will impact on people living on both sides of the border.”