Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 24 July 2020

It was reassuring to hear this week that despite the further easing of lockdown measures, the number of deaths linked to coronavirus in Scotland have fallen to the lowest level since the start of the pandemic and for the 12th consecutive week.

The next three week review of lockdown is due next week and this week the First Minister indicated this phase of lockdown is likely to last longer than three weeks and that the main focus for now is on keeping the virus at a low enough level to enable schools to safely reopen in August with more detailed guidance expected over the coming week. While any decision will need to be informed by this guidance we are continuing with our preparations and will update you on our plans as soon as we are able.

I hope everyone has been able to safely enjoy the further easing of restrictions, especially our colleagues who have been shielding and are now able to spend more time outdoors and reconnect with people following the changes to the guidance earlier this month. There was further positive news for people who are shielding yesterday when Scottish Government confirmed its plans to pause shielding from 1 August, as well as a further relaxation of shielding to allow indoor visits from today. You can read more about the updated guidance and the decision to pause shielding and what it means for you here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/covid-shielding/pages/changes-to-shielding-advice/

We were given a clear reminder this week that the virus has not gone away with the news of the outbreak in North Lanarkshire in a test and trace facility subcontracted by Public Health England. While extensive test and trace is under way to break the virus chain, it is a reminder of the need to continue to be vigilant and we continue to plan for the management of any such cases here in Renfrewshire. We'll share more detailed plans in the coming weeks however each and every one of us has an important part to play in keeping this virus at bay, so if you have the symptoms of Covid-19 —a persistent, continuous cough, high temperature, change in your sense of taste or smell, you must self-isolate, let your line manager know and arrange for a test within the first three days of symptoms at www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test, or call 0800 028 2816.

There was mixed news in the press this week as the decision by Marks and Spencer to close its outlet on Paisley High Street was partly offset by the announcement that following detailed negotiations with Chivas Brothers we have been able to purchase the bulk of the Renfrew Road site and are considering a range of development opportunities which will support long-term growth of the local economy and bring benefits to the surrounding communities. The rest of the site will be used by the Scottish Leather Group, the UK's largest leather manufacturer, for a facility creating 100 high-skilled jobs.

In a further boost for the local economy, the Council's Emergency Board this week approved a £1.3m support package to help Renfrewshire businesses recover from the effects of lockdown. The new short-term funding package which will be open for local firms to apply from mid-August was developed in consultation with Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce and informed by the results of an in-depth survey of more than 500 local businesses about the backing they'll require to support them through what will be a tough period ahead. You can read more about the innovative package of support on our website: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/article/10444/Renfrewshire-1.3m-Covid-business-support-package-is-approved

And finally, I would like to encourage you to please take some well-deserved time off in the coming weeks and enjoy what is left of the Scottish summer. And if you are planning on holidaying closer 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/

Stay safe and take care.

Sandra