Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 13 November 2020

Earlier this week Scottish Government held its first weekly review of the new protective measures in place across the country to control the spread of COVID-19 and confirmed that for now Renfrewshire will remain in Level Three.

This means that hospitality premises, including cafes, pubs and restaurants, can open to serve food without the sale of alcohol, but must close at 6pm, and the current meeting rules in these premises - a maximum of six people from two households, continues to apply.

It also means that you cannot visit anyone in their home or invite anyone into your home - unless it is to provide essential care, and you should avoid unnecessary travel outwith your council area.

Although most people are working hard to follow the measures in place, we know the virus is continuing to spread in households in Renfrewshire and other parts of the country. If we are to protect the vulnerable in our communities, keep businesses open, protect local jobs and keep children and young people at school, we must avoid meeting with friends and families indoors at home.

While no area has yet moved into Level 4, and local measures are beginning to help, the First Minister has raised concerns about infection rates in several places, including here in Renfrewshire. That's why it is vital that we all stick to the rules and work together to bring the infection level down and to avoid more severe restrictions, which significantly restrict our personal freedoms and will be very damaging to the local economy. This is even more important through winter as our health and social care teams work tirelessly to protect our older people and those who are most vulnerable.

The Scottish Government has published a post code checker to help people double check the restrictions in place for their area, so please use this so you know what rules apply to you.

There was some positive news this week with an update on a possible vaccine for the virus becoming available in the coming months - prioritising healthcare workers and the most vulnerable in our communities. This gives us reason to be hopeful and is very welcome, especially for those struggling with the length of time we have been living with upheaval in our working and home lives. We will keep you updated on this as more information becomes available but, in the meantime, we must all play our part to stay safe and well.

For staff working at one of our workplaces or schools, I'd like to reassure you that your health and safety, along with those who rely on council services remains our priority. Please familiarise yourself with the measures in place at your workplace, including the guidance on wearing face coverings in all council buildings and restrictions on sharing council vehicles. For those of you working from home, we expect this to continue into the new year and so I would encourage you to please stay connected to your colleagues and make sure you complete your Display Screen Equipment assessment to see if you can improve your home working environment.

If you develop Covid-19 symptoms please do not attend work, tell your manager and book a test immediately at NHS Inform or phone 0800 028 2816. You should also self-isolate until you have received the result of your test, and the same applies if you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus.

I understand just how challenging it is to isolate at home, but the success of Test and Protect as a means of reducing the spread of the virus and preventing a further lockdown will depend entirely on the continued willingness of everyone to comply. If you have symptoms or are contacted by Test & Protect please stay at home. That way we can continue to protect care homes, maintain essential services and keep each other safe.

If you, or someone you know, do not have a support network to help you self-isolate, please contact the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000. You will be signposted to your council and help will be provided to access food, medicine and financial assistance. I'd like to thank our teams supporting the work of Renfrewshire's self-isolation support line, as well as those working to manage Scottish Government's £500 self-isolation support grant for people on low incomes. I'd especially like to thank colleagues in digital services who very quickly implemented the system which has supported more than 70 people to stay at home safely since its launch last month. If you have any concerns about how self-isolation might impact you, please speak to your manager or contact our health and safety colleagues for advice.

Delivering services over the winter months brings a number of challenges and this year it's more important than ever that we are here for our communities and look after each other. Please follow the FACTS and our workplace guidance and if you haven't already, book your flu vaccination. If you are not eligible for the NHS national programme you can access the council programme here.

And finally, I want to sincerely thank everyone who marked this year's Remembrance to honour those lost through war and those who continue to serve.  This year was very different with COVID-19 restrictions meaning no parades or events could take place, but I am aware of the many individual acts of Remembrance that ensured Renfrewshire did not forget. If you have not yet had the opportunity to watch Renfrewshire's Remembrance film, I would urge you to do so. It was a very moving and timely reminder of the resilience of our communities and the bravery of so many.

Have a lovely weekend and please take care.

Sandra