Scotland Food & Drink - Coronavirus Update

Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 10:09

Scotland Food & Drink, like our partners in Government and industry, is working 24/7 on the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak. 

One of the lessons from any crisis situation is the importance of clear communications. This new daily update will cover the latest situation with the outbreak and the advice to businesses and on public health. It will also let you know what SF&D is doing and is a call to action for business across the food and drink supply chain, to share the impact you are facing. 

We are on daily calls with Government to highlight and work through issues, we need your information to inform that effort. Send any and all information you can to

Please feel free to share this daily update widely.


James Withers
Chief Executive


SF&D action being taken

  • Highlighting the impact on food and drink businesses of unprecedented disruption in the supply chain, recognising the effective closure of the hospitality market and major disruption to export markets.
  • Pressing for UK Government support. The level of support required is enormous, well beyond the means of Scottish Government (but also exploring options for support at Scottish level). Avenues being explored include tax relief, including a suspension of PAYE obligations, a holiday on VAT payment, grants to cover payroll costs.
  • Working with media to raise awareness of the impact on the Scottish food and drink supply chain.
  • Collating industry impact information to share with Government.

Information required by SF&D

The situation is fast-moving.  The information businesses provide us fuels our effort in analysing impact and exploring mitigation options, financial or otherwise.  Please send SF&D all information including loss of sales, business fragility, cashflow problems, workforce absence and disruption in supply chain.  Also, any other potential solutions or opportunities are welcome.

Send all information to

Latest business feedback summary

The key information provided to us by businesses will be summarised here daily.

  1. The collapse of large parts of the foodservice market in UK with orders plummeting across hotel, bars, restaurants etc. This is affecting both large and small businesses.
  2. Export demand has fallen dramatically, either because of the closure of hospitality outlets or major disruption to traditional routes to market (airlines, haulage etc).
  3. Some food and drink producers who also have a hospitality offer (such as brewers who also run bars) are facing particular challenges.
  4. Some manufacturers are beginning to offer home delivery of products / meals and this may be an opportunity for others. 

Business help

Based at Scottish Enterprise’s call centre in Clydebank, advisers across Scotland will answer questions from businesses related to COVID-19.

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.

To complement the helpline a new website has been created to keep businesses up-to-date with the latest guidance across a comprehensive range of important areas relating to COVID-19.  Click to access

Support for businesses paying tax

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. 

These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

For tourism businesses, VisitScotland has set-up an advice page which can be accessed here

Coronavirus COVID-19 update

The proliferation of the virus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, meaning it is spreading rapidly in different parts of the world. More than 150 countries have confirmed cases so far. 

The epicentre of the coronavirus is now Europe, with the largest number of confirmed cases in Italy, and death tolls growing more quickly in Italy and Spain than they did in China at the same stage of the outbreak.

United Kingdom Cases 
Confirmed: 1,544
Deaths: 55
Recovered: 52 

Some 44,105 people in the UK have been tested for the respiratory infection so far.

As of 2pm on 17 March, there were 195 positive cases of Covid-19 in Scotland following 5,051 tests. So far, two patients in Scotland have died.

The number of new cases in the UK and Scotland is expected to rise sharply in the next four weeks and then peak in June.

Health advice

For people showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus the UK Government is stressing the importance of seeking help online by visiting NHS.UK/coronavirus to check your symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting your GP.


  • People showing symptom suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period.
  • Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should now stay at home for 14 days.
  • Those with underlying health conditions should be ‘’shielded’’ at home for 12 weeks.
  • Minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms
  • For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, they are strongly advised against these activities and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.
  • Avoid using public transport as much as possible
  • Work from home when possible
  • Follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching your face and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing