Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 2 October 2020

October has arrived and we are already preparing council services for winter with the additional challenge of living and working with covid-19. I am very aware that colleagues may be wondering what to expect over the coming months and I want to reassure you that it remains our priority to protect your health and wellbeing and ensure our communities are safe and supported.

We have detailed contingency plans ready to help maintain essential services should further restrictions be imposed. The lessons learned since March, including the experiences shared by you, have been really important to informing plans and I am confident that we will be able to respond safely and quickly to whatever lies ahead.

For the time being, the First Minister has confirmed there will be no changes to the current coronavirus restrictions in place and Scotland will be unable to progress to Stage 4 of the route map out of lockdown. For Renfrewshire, like the rest of the country, this continues to mean people are not allowed to visit another household indoors; the number of households that can meet outdoors or in a hospitality setting is restricted to 6 people from a maximum of 2 households; and the 10pm curfew for pubs, cafes and restaurants remains in place. It also means that for many colleagues, working from home is likely to continue throughout the winter months and I would like to thank everyone for their dedication and commitment to delivering for the council, regardless of work location.

For colleagues and those in our community self-isolating, there was some good news this week from Scottish Government on easing the rules around self-isolation affecting Renfrewshire. If you are identified as a close contact of a positive case, you must continue to self-isolate for the 14-day period and follow the advice you are given by Test and Protect. However, the change means that a whole household is now no longer required to self-isolate if one person at home is identified as a close contact. For anyone whose household was asked to self-isolate for this reason and who is still doing so, they can now return to work, and children can return to school as normal. Only the person identified as a close contact must remain at home. Please remember that the rules on self-isolation have not changed for those who are symptomatic or have tested positive. If someone you live with is symptomatic or tests positive for Covid-19, the whole household must stay at home and you should contact your manager to make sure this is recorded, and you are offered support. You can follow the latest self-isolation advice on the council website.

As part of building resilience for winter and ensuring we protect our health and wellbeing while coronavirus is still circulating, the council is running a flu vaccination programme for colleagues not included in the extended NHS programme. I am very aware of how busy services are and want to make sure that everyone can easily access a flu jab, especially for those in the frontline who are out in our communities and working shift patterns. To help, we have more than doubled the amount of vaccinations available for colleagues and will provide Boots e-vouchers so that appointments can be made at a local Boots store at a convenient time. For our school teams - catering, cleaning, clerical, janitorial and teaching staff, vaccinations will be available on site across the school estate. Please take some time to check if you are already eligible for a flu vaccination through NHS, and if not, how to access the council programme.

As part of our commitment to wellbeing, I would also like to remind colleagues to please use annual leave and plan some quality time away from the workplace, wherever that workplace may be. I know many parents will have childcare commitments over the October school holidays and we will do everything we can to support you to take leave.

Please continue to support us by following our safe work practices and national guidance - especially physical distancing and hand hygiene, at work and at home, and when travelling to work. And if you haven't done so yet, remember to download the new Protect Scotland app, to get quick notification if you have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for Covid-19 and are at risk of illness.

And finally, this is normally the season that our major events programme comes into its own, with over 100,000 visitors from across Scotland joining us to attend Renfrewshire's Spree Festival, Halloween Festival, Paisley fireworks and our Christmas light switch-on events. This year will feel very different for the teams involved and especially for our local businesses, cultural sector and our communities, who play a really important part in the delivery of our events programme.  While we may not be able to host visitors and celebrate as normal, we will continue to do everything we can to encourage people to spend time in Renfrewshire and support our local retailers and hospitality sector. Together we can make a positive difference.

Please stay safe and have a lovely weekend.

Sandra