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Covid-19 (Oil and Gas Industry)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 21st April 2020.

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Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

Can the First Minister clarify a specific issue for the oil and gas industry? United Kingdom guidance outlines how to socially distance on an offshore structure, and states that if people cannot keep 2m apart, they can take other action to keep safe while still operating. The Scottish Government guidance does not seem to have made that exemption. My understanding is that that has left companies confused and, potentially, exposed. Will the Scottish Government adopt a similar exemption in its guidance to companies so that that vital industry, which is already in the toughest of times, can keep operating?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I undertake to look into anything that is raised. However, in Scotland we have issued guidance for companies that operate in the space between businesses that have been told categorically to close, and those that are essential to keep the country going. We have talked about that in the chamber, previously.

The guidance asks whether businesses are doing something that is essential to the country’s material wellbeing, and if so, whether they can allow people to work from home or can work safely using social distancing, with 2m between staff? If they cannot, our very clear advice, which is based on health considerations, is that businesses should close. That is about prioritising public health, which is, in the longer term, in the interests of the economy.

I ask businesses across Scotland to ensure that they pay heed to the advice and guidance that the Scottish Government gives. We will keep it all under review. As we go into the next phase of decision making, that will include looking carefully at which sectors of the economy and which businesses can—at the right time—be allowed to reopen, as long as they can do so safely.