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Coronavirus Business Guidance - are you a critical business?

26 March 2020

On 23 March the Scottish Government working closely with the UK Government, stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. All non-essential premises must now close, however the government has identified 13 Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sectors, of which one is 'Energy'. 

CNI sectors define those facilities, systems, sites and networks necessary for the functioning of the country and the delivery of the essential services upon which daily life in Scotland depends. Essential services are the fundamental services that underpin daily life and ensure the country continues to function. There are 13 designated CNI sectors (Energy; Communications Telecommunications, Public Broadcast, Postal Services, Internet; Government; Transport; Finance; Civil Nuclear; Defence; Chemicals; Space; Government; Health; Food; Water and Waste; Emergency Services) but not everything and everybody within a national infrastructure sector is 'critical'.

Even where businesses are in the CNI category and judge themselves to be exempt from closure of business premises, it is imperative that they keep open only those premises or parts of premises that are truly critical or essential to the national COVID effort (e.g. keep a milk production line premises open but related logistics staff work from home wherever possible and non-essential staff must work from home; while it is important to keep the financial system operating so that the public can access money, not all bank branches or offices will need to stay open and many staff will be  able to work from home). 

Business should look critically at their role and operations.  Non-essential  business sectors like construction (unless it is essential construction, such as a hospital)  should close unless and until we can all be clear how operations can be undertaken safely. The government will work with these sectors to consider if it is possible to produce appropriate guidance on that specific point. Unless and until such guidance is issued, non-essential construction sites should stay closed.

All individuals and businesses that are not being specifically required to close should consider a key set of questions (see below) and at all times work on the precautionary basis:

Is what you do essential or material to the effort against the virus or to the wellbeing of society?
if so, can your staff work from home?
if not can you practise safe social distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements.

If the answer to none of the above questions is yes, the government's advice on a precautionary basis is to close.

The government are relying on business to be responsible at this time of national emergency.  Exceptionally, some more nuanced cases may arise and we will establish a central Scottish Government function urgently to provide advice and direction where needed. Further details will follow.  

For further information on business guidance and social distancing, please click here.