Coronavirus (COVID-19) ADVICE

Updates as they become available to support businesses and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic

What to expect from HIE in the weeks ahead

A message from HIE's interim Chief Executive, Carroll Buxton - 19 March 2020

A great many businesses and communities across the Highlands and Islands continue to rely on our services as they try to adapt to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

We realise this is a very worrying time for our clients and the wider community, and we are working with our partners and government to ensure we do everything we can to support our region during this crisis.

Like virtually every other organisation in the country, we are adapting the way we work in line with these changing needs and government recommendations.

We are committed to maintaining access to frontline services. Clients are encouraged to continue to contact their HIE account manager as usual, by phone and email. We will do all we can to keep providing a high-quality service.

Our staff are all highly experienced in using technology for remote working and can access our key systems without being in the office. Most of us therefore are now working from our homes whenever possible, to avoid travel and having to share work spaces.

Regular business travel is suspended. All of our March events will be delivered virtually or postponed, and we are reviewing all events over the next 12 weeks.

In terms of helping businesses and social enterprises adapt to the current crisis, we are directing you to the latest information on the Scottish and UK Government responses to the outbreak.

These include advice on health and travel and specific guidance for employers and businesses, all available at

The changes in how we work and how we provide many of our support services will ensure continuity and help reduce the negative impact that the current emergency will inevitably cause.

With sensible measures kept under review we can continue to provide valuable support during what is bound to be a challenging time for our businesses and communities throughout the Highlands and Islands.

We'll be updating this page with news, support and information as it becomes available. 

Carroll Buxton
HIE interim Chief Executive

Joint enterprise agencies statement on COVID-19

Read more +
Hunted Cow Studios, Elgin

Advice and resources

We're currently working hard with the Scottish Government and our partner agencies to bring you as much information and support as we can amidst the COVID-19 crisis. 

Visit for the latest business support including: job retention support, childcare provision for key workers, advice line for tax support and changes to the non-domestic tax rates.  


UK Government support

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary and targeted measures to support public services, communities and businesses through COVID-19. You can see a full but evolving list on the UK Government's website, as well as what the current status of lockdown actually means. 

See UK Government support

Support for communities and third sector organisations

We know that communities and third sector organisations deliver vital services throughout our region. We're working hard with the Scottish Government to bring you the support and resources needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new £20m resilience fund has been announced to support the third sector and will be available in the coming days. Find out more about the fund and other support routes in our third sector COVID-19 section.

Support for the third sector

Financial support for business and communities during COVID-19

The UK and Scottish Governments are putting financial measures in place to help businesses and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There's a number of packages you can access now as well as a number in development that will be communicated as soon as possible. 

Find out what's available now

COVID-19 support for the food and drink sector

We are working with very closely with the Scottish Government and industry partners to bring specific, and much needed, support to the food and drink industry across our region.

We're also gathering together information on support available from HIE and our partners. There is still a lot of work going on in the background to open up application routes but we are updating information on this section of our site as soon as information becomes available.  

Find out more here

24 March update: joint statement issued from multiple industry bodies asking businesses to follow strict guidance to help protect their staff. 

Read the statement

27 March update: Food Standards Scotland have published official answers some commonly asked questions in relation to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and food.

Access the FAQs here



Support for tourism and hospitality businesses

The tourism and hospitality sector is quite possibly the worst impacted by COVID-19 while visitors have been told to stay away and premises across the region having to close. So we recognise the need to support the sector quickly and effectively. 

There are a number of support packages being created by both the UK and the Scottish Government.

Find out what help is available

Support for Creative Industries businesses

XpoNorth is continuously updating information and advice to support the sector, sharing knowledge via video, podcast, and blogs whilst also hosting webinars and ‘hangouts’ to answer questions.  

The year round specialist advice service continues as normal and is accessible via the XpoNorth website. 

Businesses can also request a Digital Dashboard to ‘at a glance’ monitor platform activity and inform their digital strategy.

Visit the XpoNorth website here

Creative Scotland has launched three funding programmes designed to provide further support to sustain the country’s creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Find out more

Can you help with any of these critical asks for help?

Businesses are being called upon to help with critical supplies for the NHS and other care workers.

Can you help?

Could you help manufacture the COVID-19 test?

We've also had a request from Brunel University London to help find manufacturing partners to rapidly produce the test required for COVID-19 and there's a number of ways you could potentially help. 

Find out more 

Calling digital innovators

The UK Government has announced a new technology challenge to support people who are in isolation. 

£500,000 of funding is available for technology companies who come up with digital support solutions for people who need to stay at home because of coronavirus.

Find out more



Highlands and Islands based businesses working on the front line against COVID-19

Read about some of the Highlands and Islands based businesses already working on the front line to help battle the spread of the virus.

Find out who's involved and what they're doing 

Get in touch if we can help

If you’re a business or community in the Highlands and Islands region and have an operational concern or difficulty due to COVID-19, please get in touch.

Contact your account manager


Contact our enquiries team

You can also register for our newsletter and we'll keep you up to date with information and support. To sign up, please add your email address at the bottom of this page. 


Everyone has a role to play in preventing the spread

Everyone - businesses, social enterprises, communities and individuals - need to help minimise the spread of COVID-19. Make sure you're following the latest guidance issued. Have a look at the NHS inform pages for the latest public health information. 

Visit NHS inform