Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 10 July 2020

Summer has officially arrived with the easing of more lockdown measures and I hope you are able to take some annual leave, even if that means staying closer to home this year. I am sure, like me, being able to meet up with family and friends, is very welcome and makes a huge difference to wellbeing.

It has been lovely to touch base with people again. It is also a positive step forward for our residents, as we begin to restart some of the services that matter most to them, albeit we are delivering in a different way and with some restrictions still in place.

I am very relieved that we continue to make progress in the suppression of COVID-19 and see the number of people who are dying from the virus reducing considerably. I am particularly pleased to be able to share with you that last week was the first week that there were no COVID related deaths in Renfrewshire since March. While there is no room for complacency, this is an important milestone for our communities and I hope we continue on this path. The crisis has presented incredible challenges for all us, the most challenging in my time as Chief Executive, and I remain immensely proud of the council's response and everything you have done to follow the guidelines and deliver services safely.

Yesterday the country moved into the third phase of the Scottish Government's route map out of lockdown, which means more businesses set to reopen, more services to resume and the ability to socialise a bit wider too. It also signals a real difference for people who have been Shielding, who can now spend time outside and reconnect with people. I can't imagine how hard this must have been for many of you, and the anxiety that being in isolation can bring. The plan to pause Shielding on 31 July is a very positive development, and we will be working closely with colleagues who have been isolating because of health conditions to support them to plan a return to work safely at the right time. Everyone who is part of the Shielding group will receive a letter from Scottish Government with more information soon, and for now colleagues can find out more information here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-shielding/pages/changes-to-shielding-advice/ 

For the rest of us, the changes mean we can now meet up in extended groups of friends and family outdoors, and with three households indoors, but we must continue to physically distance.

It has been great to see life in our high streets once again with the re-opening of some shops, as well as outdoor bars and restaurants at the beginning of this week, and I would urge everyone to please stay local and shop local where you can. Shopping centres can reopen from Monday, with hairdressers, indoor hospitality and libraries to follow later in the week.

I am very conscious of the impact of the pandemic on local businesses and I am determined to continue to do all we can to help mitigate the immediate impact and develop our economic recovery plan. Already our business teams have awarded a total of £25.5million in funding to businesses in Renfrewshire and are doing everything they can to support business to reopen.

If you are planning on holidaying close to home this year and supporting our local tourism sector, we have created the Steal Back Summer campaign, designed to encourage local people to rediscover the great outdoors and attractions on their doorstep. You can design your own To Do list here: https://paisley.is/discover/steal-back-summer-with-paisley-is/

If you are out and about, please remember that face coverings are now compulsory on all forms of public transport and must now also be worn in all shops and public buildings. Please make sure you read more about the guidelines and what they mean for you here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-staying-safe-and-protecting-others/pages/face-coverings/

You will also be aware of changes to foreign travel and 14-day quarantine arrangements, which means you can now travel to 57 countries, excluding Spain and Serbia, without having to self-isolate on your return. You can read more about airbridges and countries you are able to visit and the council's guidance on quarantine arrangement and annual leave here: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/article/10392/Annual-Leave-Holiday-arrangements-and-quarantine-measures

I have really enjoyed seeing the roll out of our council values and am reminded every day of the many examples of your commitment to being fair, helpful, learning and great collaborators. Your dedication to local people and the lengths you continue to go to help restart services is remarkable. If you haven't already, please make sure you see our brilliant video that shines a light on the contribution you have made during this outbreak and demonstrates our values at work. This week Facilities Co-ordinator, Lynne Tervit follows up and shares her thoughts on how we are helpful. Learn more here: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/ourvalues

And finally, despite the cancellation of our major events programme, it was great to see Sma' Shot Day continue to have its annual outing in digital form. I was very struck by how relevant the celebration of workers and community felt this year. It was a wonderful showcase of talent and I was very moved by this year's message and the music and song that celebrated the NHS and our care workers. Thank you to everyone who was involved and all the local groups and young people who took part this year.

I want to thank you for the part you have played to help get to this stage in controlling the virus. It is very important that we continue to work together to make sure we do not experience a second spike or local outbreak so please continue to follow the guidance and make sure you know what it means for you and your family.

Have a wonderful weekend, but please stay safe and take care as you go.

Sandra