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Coronavirus / Number with virus rises again with more deaths in Scotland

Workplaces told to close if work not essential

FORTY people in Shetland have now tested positive for coronavirus.

The number is up four from yesterday (Friday) and the number of deaths in Scotland has risen to 218 from 172.

Throughout Scotland 20,798 people have been tested for Covid-19, with 3,345 testing positive and 17,453 negative tests.

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop said today that workplaces should close if what they do is not essential in the fight against the virus or benefit the wellbeing of society.

And she said employers need to be able to demonstrate and provide their workforce with confidence that they are consistently practising safe social distancing and complying with all other standard health and safety requirements.

She said that it was “essential that all businesses act responsibly” to protect public health and avoid putting the public and health service at risk.

Hyslop said: “We recognise that this is an extremely difficult time for businesses in Scotland and I must give my thanks to the many companies acting responsibly and taking action to protect their workers and the wider public.

Cabinet secretary for culture Fiona Hyslop addressing the Viking Congress on Wednesday morning - Photo: Frank Bradford.Fiona Hyslop.

“The updated guidance we expect to be published today by the UK Government does not apply in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s established priority is public health and fighting the virus.

“Workplaces that do not follow the chief medical officer’s clear and consistent precautionary advice may be putting their employees, the wider public and our NHS at risk.  It is essential that all businesses act responsibly to safeguard the nation’s health, well-being and economic future.”

Scotland’s updated guidance asks non-essential businesses to consider whether their employees can work from home and, where not possible, they should close on a precautionary basis until such time it is clear to all staff and unions that they can operate in a way that is safe and fully compliant with social distancing as reducing social interactions will reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Hyslop added: “We need essential businesses and their supply chains to continue in their work and show that they are complying with social distancing guidance. We will work with business and trades union leaders so that we can all be clear on how activity can be undertaken safely and in a way that is fully compliant with social distancing. Unless and until such guidance is in place, non-essential workplaces, including construction sites, should close.”

Meanwhile, secretary for social security and older people Shirley-Anne Somerville said that there had been an “outstanding” response for volunteers to help fight coronavirus throughout Scotland, with 50,330 volunteering since 30 March.

“While the most important ask for the public is to stay at home and follow the essential public health guidance, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need. Those who can and want to volunteer can find information about how to help on the Ready Scotland website.”

Volunteers who want to support their communities should visit www.readyscotland.org/coronavirus/volunteering to find out how they can help.