Renfrewshire Council

Message from Finance & Resources Director, Alan Russell - 30 Oct

This week has seen an increase in COVID-19 restrictions across the UK and beyond as the number of positive cases and hospital admissions continue to increase. In Scotland, 5 levels of protection have been introduced by Scottish Government to help suppress transmission of the virus, with Renfrewshire and central Scotland entering Level 3 from Monday 2 November.

The FM announced the new protection measures yesterday which see each local authority area in Scotland placed in one of the 5 levels. The new approach to managing the impact of the virus will consider a range of factors in deciding what level to introduce in each area and will minimise the risk to public health and manage the impact on our local economies and communities.

The move into Level 3 for Renfrewshire is broadly in line with the restrictions we've been living and working with for the last few weeks and will have limited impact on council services and how we operate. There are some changes to the guidance for hospitality which means restaurants, pubs and cafes can all now open indoors until 6pm to serve food, but the ban on alcohol remains. This will be more positive news for our town centres and high streets.

We are still awaiting further detail on any new measures for schools but do know that schools and childcare will remain open. Our teaching staff and school teams have made an outstanding contribution over recent months to ensure continued learning and support for all our children and this provides us with a solid base for any future adjustments required.

For colleagues previously required to shield, you will have received a letter this week from the Interim Chief Medical Officer setting out what the new protection levels mean for you. Colleagues will already have had a workplace assessment carried out and measures will be in place to keep you safe at work. If you have received a letter from the CMO this week, or if you have any concerns about your working environment, please speak to your line manager or Douglas Blair or Steven Fanning in our Health and Safety team to discuss your arrangements. Your health, safety and wellbeing is our priority and we will continue to monitor and keep under review the measures we have in place.

For those working from home, it's clear this will remain the case for the foreseeable future, and I appreciate the lack of face to face contact for some will be very difficult. We have detailed risk assessments in place for all our services and safe working guides to support colleagues no matter what their role or work location. I would like to thank everyone involved for ensuring we all remain safe and protected and would ask that everyone continues to play a part by following FACTS and workplace guidance and helping to keep Renfrewshire safe.

Delivering services over the winter months brings its own challenges and I very much appreciate the impact of this on our frontline colleagues and our more vulnerable service users. As community transmission increases so too does the risk to older people in our care homes and I want to pass on my sincerest thanks to health and social care colleagues who continue to do everything possible to keep care home residents safe.

I am also very aware that the length of this crisis will be made especially hard with continued restrictions on seeing friends and family and getting less time outdoors with the colder weather. It's really important that we take time to look out for people and to look after our own health and wellbeing. Please take time to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues as best you can. Taking regular breaks, getting some time outside and talking to people will help to keep us connected and well. If you are experiencing any stress or anxiety for any reason, please make contact or speak to a colleague. We have a 24/7 counselling service available for all staff called Time for Talking and a range of support services we can point you towards.

At this time of year, many of us would normally be looking forward to the winter festivals and while we have a very different Halloween and Bonfire Night approaching, there is still plenty you can do to mark the occasions and stick to the public health guidelines. Follow our Paisley Is social media channels on Facebook, Twitter (@Paisleyis) and Instagram (Paisley.is) for things to do over the coming weeks and please try to stay local and spend local wherever possible.

Take care and please stay safe this weekend.

Alan