THE coronavirus pandemic is without doubt the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes and the measures we take to deal with it must reflect its magnitude.

The changes we are all having to make to our lives are difficult and feel so far removed from normal circumstances.

As more and enough evidence becomes available, the situation will be reviewed but for now, it remains absolutely vital that we continue to adhere to these measures to slow down the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

I want to put on record my thanks to all our frontline and key workers helping to combat this pandemic.

From Tuesday 14 April, A new helpline has been set up for certain groups of people (e.g. older, disabled, pregnant etc) who aren't already in a shielded group.

This will connect to local food distribution, medication, emotional support, social work, and volunteer organisations. This number is 0800 111 4000.

Many people in a variety of roles, from NHS staff, carers, council staff to shop workers, are being asked to go above and beyond to help us cope with Covid-19 and their efforts are very much appreciated.

The community spirit shown here in Clackmannanshire over the last few weeks has been absolutely amazing with local organisations, friends, family and neighbours going that extra mile to look out for one another.

I would like to thank everyone for all they are doing at this difficult time. By prioritising those most in need, and by continuing to work together we can ensure everyone in our community remains safe.

Those who are at greatest risk from the virus should have received a letter which offers guidance on shielding from infection and information about the support available, which includes access to home deliveries through a text message service.

It's hugely important that everyone who receives a letter, and requires this support, signs up to this service as soon as they can to make sure they are fully stocked with essential items.

In Clackmannanshire you can register for deliveries through the Community Support Team on 01259 452275 or by email at

In recognition of the vital role they are playing during the coronavirus pandemic, a new package to support social care workers has been introduced by the Scottish Government.

The measures announced will ensure all people providing adult social care receive the Real Living Wage for every hour worked with immediate effect, rather than having to wait until later in the year.

The Scottish Government will also provide funding to third sector and independent providers specifically to ensure staff receive sick pay if they are off work ill or because they are self-isolating.

In addition, the agreed funding increase to these providers will give them the financial flexibility to increase wages across their organisations, and not just to frontline staff.

The Scottish Government also wants to ensure that as many businesses as possible receive support, while also reflecting the nature of Scotland's economy, which is why a package worth £22billion has been put in place.

Proportionately Scotland has a higher share of employees in small and medium size businesses than the rest of the UK as a whole, so the funding put in place here has to adapt to that.

The measures put in place mean hundreds more businesses are benefitting from compared with elsewhere.