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Legislation will bolster COVID-19 response.

New measures contained in the UK Coronavirus Bill will help enhance Scotland’s response to COVID-19 and strengthen frontline services.

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said the Bill, introduced into the UK Parliament today, followed close co-operation with the devolved administrations and was required because of “extraordinary public health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic”.  

It covers both reserved and devolved matters and will enable the Scottish Government to bring more health professionals and social workers into the workforce, relax regulations to ease the burden on frontline staff, and take steps to help slow the spread of the virus. It grants new powers to cancel events and allow the police to compel potentially infectious people to undergo COVID-19 screening and assessment.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Mr Russell said:

“We are, as a country and across the globe, facing an unprecedented set of challenges. Every life will change.“This Bill is the result of a great deal of intensive work between the UK Government and the devolved administrations and is required because of the extraordinary public health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic. The Scottish Government will recommend granting legislative consent.“I should emphasise these measures are temporary and will only be used if required. I make a commitment that we will institute, after discussion across the Scottish Parliament, appropriate reporting on how and when the powers in the Bill have been used by the Scottish Government.“We must put in place what we need to do the right thing for everyone and take action to protect, to enhance and to strengthen not just our response, but ourselves.“Together we can and will win through.”


Constitution Secretary Michael Russell’s statement to the Scottish Parliament is available on the Scottish Government website. 

It is intended that the Legislative Consent Motion for the Coronavirus Bill will be debated by the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, 24 March, subject to Parliament’s agreement.The Scottish Government will bring forward its own emergency Coronavirus legislation, covering devolved matters, shortly.

Bank of England

In a message from the Bank of England’s Agent in Scotland, William Dowson said:-

“I’m mindful that circumstances are changing fast and many businesses and households are struggling. Some of you have asked where to find relevant information. This may not be comprehensive but we have tried to collect together the most obvious places where you can check what support is available and how it will be delivered.  More information will be available from next Monday on the lending schemes – please check the relevant websites.

Also today the Monetary Policy Committee at a special meeting voted to cut Bank rate to 0.1% and increase its holdings of UK government and corporate bonds by £200 billion.

Banks and Building Societies can participate in the Bank of England’s Term Funding Scheme announced on 11 March with additional incentives for SMEs. 

If you are either a small or medium sized business, you can access The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – this will operate from 23 March and will be delivered through the British Business Bank.  If you are UK based and have a turnover of no more than £41m per year, you can apply for up to £5m of funding. 

Some eligibility criteria can be found here.

  • Some eligibility criteria can be found here.
  • A full list of participating lenders can be found here.”

Paymentsense UK

One of the SLTA’s Members Services Partners, Paymentsense UK, providing card payment and merchant services, is now offering support to businesses who use their service.

The company has announced:-

“Given the current global health crisis and the mounting financial pressure on small business owners, Paymentsense have partnered with YouLend to launch Business Funding. 

At a time when independent companies need it most, this new offering will support your business with flexible business financing, and more importantly, you will only repay it when you’re paid. 

Paymentsense customers can apply for Business Funding today, and they will pay back an agreed amount as a percentage of their debit and credit card takings. There are no hidden fees, just transparent repayments.”

To find out more info and how to apply, please contact me today on 07864 931672 or

Association of British Insurers

Following the Association of British Insurers statement on business insurance cover and that most businesses would not be covered by this, the ABI have a COVID-19 Q & A which you can be accessed here .   This includes business insurance, trade credit, income protection and pensions and investments.

Visit Scotland Quality Assurance Payment Break for 2020 Membership

Announcement from Malcolm Roughead OBE, Chief Executive, VisitScotland:- 

“Our industry is facing its biggest ever challenge and we share your concerns for the immediate and longer term. We’re here to support during this challenging time and doing everything we can to help in a rapidly evolving environment, including providing industry data and feedback, advice and support.  We’ve taken the decision not to charge you for your Quality Assurance scheme membership this year. Sending out bills just puts more pressure on you – so we hope we are helping in our own small way. Should you have already paid, please complete the following form so that we can reimburse you as soon as possible.  VS REIMBURSEMENT .

The UK and Scottish Government support, announced over the last two days, has been welcomed and we hope that businesses will be able to access money quickly to help alleviate the dire cash flow problems reported across the sector.

As we all know, the tourism industry is a resilient one as we saw after foot and mouth and 9/11 but this is already looking to be more severe and we will be working closely with the industry both now and when we start to move into recovery mode.”

Open Table

Andrea Johnston, Chief operating Officer of OpenTable has issued the following communication:-

“OpenTable is committed to supporting our restaurant community during this difficult time. We know that it is tough out there and that these are unprecedented times for our industry. Effective immediately, we have put together these programs for restaurants in our network in an effort to help our community weather this storm:-

We realise many restaurants are closing temporarily. All OpenTable restaurants have access to a new feature, Close Date Range via Special Days in Availability Planning. This is a simple way for you to temporarily block your books. Just block a range of days when you will be closed between now and the end of April, and we will waive your subscription fee. If you are closed beyond 30 April please reach out to us for assistance at

We encourage all restaurants to please actively manage your books per the above tool so we can know if you are open or not.

We are encouraging diners to support restaurants by buying gift cards which they can discover through our gift card marketplace, as well as making gift card callouts more prominent on restaurant profiles.  At this time we are not proactively canceling reservations for diners, we are leaving that up to restaurant discretion based on government guidance.
We are also working closely with restaurant associations around the world to align our efforts and help support them as they seek tax/ fee deferments and other relief from governments.”

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