Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 18 September 2020

We are approaching the end of a second week of additional lockdown measures in Renfrewshire and I know this will be having a significant impact on your home and working lives. At a time when we had hoped to see restrictions ease further, we are having to adjust once again to the reality of a global pandemic and the presence of COVID-19 in our communities.

The extra restrictions, which will be reviewed again early next week, were introduced to address a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across the west of Scotland particularly among younger age groups, and mean anyone living here in Renfrewshire must not invite anyone into their home to socialise or visit anyone else in their home, in any location. This also applies to East and West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow City, North and South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire. The restrictions also prevent more than 6 people from 2 households meeting outdoors or within a hospitality setting at any one time. I am aware that for many of us the continued strain of having limited time with family and friends can have a real impact on health and wellbeing. If this is affecting you or your family, please make sure you reach out and ask for help and remember the council is here to support you.

For colleagues who continue to undertake home visits as part of their role to provide care or deliver a trade, the measures have highlighted the importance of our COVID-safe work practices which are now accepted as part of our normal working lives. Thank you to everyone for being extra vigilant and for the continued reassurance and consideration you give to local people as you deliver essential services.

I want to assure everyone that we are working hard to limit the impact of COVID-19 cases within our community and in our workplaces, and this work is even more critical as a result of the new rules on self-isolation here in Renfrewshire. Currently, if you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you and all those in your household must self-isolate for 14 days, which can have a significant impact on livelihoods and family life.

You may be aware that we have had some positive cases amongst pupils and staff across a number of our schools. I am acutely aware of the impact one positive case can have on a school community due to the new self-isolation rules, and I want to extend my gratitude to our school teams who have been working exceptionally hard to keep schools safe. This includes teaching and support staff and our cleaning and catering teams. I have been reassured by the feedback from NHS colleagues on the high standard of safety measures in place, and by the commitment from schools to ensure pupils can continue with their learning during periods of self-isolation.

You may also be aware of a small cluster of cases recently identified at Underwood Road, and I want to extend my thanks to all staff based at the depot for their support in helping us to manage this as safely as possible; assisting NHS Test and Protect with their contact tracing and completing self-isolation where required. I am very relieved that this is being managed carefully and staff are returning to work fit and well.

I want to assure you that we will continue to do whatever we can to minimise the risk of transmission in our workplaces and within our schools, and I ask that you please support us by strictly following safe work practices and national guidance - especially physical distancing and good hand hygiene, both at work and at home. It is so important that we help keep each other safe and well.

You can also download the new Protect Scotland app, which alerts people if they have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, and provides advice on self-isolation. The app guarantees the anonymity of a positive case and is a very quick way of being notified you might be at risk of illness. I would encourage everyone to download the app either to your personal phone or work device.

And please look out for information next week on the council's annual flu vaccination programme and how you can access a winter flu jab at work.

We also need communities to do their bit too and last week we launched Keep Renfrewshire out of Lockdown, a public awareness campaign aimed at different age groups in Renfrewshire, urging people to follow the national guidance and local restrictions, keep their friends and families safe and help keep our local businesses open - including our local hospitality sector. The campaign is running across social media and in the local media. If you are able, please share as widely as possible with family and friends.

While COVID-19 continues to demand our attention, we are also firmly focused on driving Renfrewshire's economic and social recovery and building our own organisational resilience. This means progressing ambitious plans for our workforce and our place and taking a fresh look at the future with everything that we have learned and achieved over the past six months. Remarkable progress is being made to change how we work and deliver services, and this is down to the creativity and commitment of colleagues across the council and I sincerely thank you for this.

For now, let's please do everything possible to Keep Renfrewshire out of Lockdown and our friends, families and communities safe.

Thank you and stay safe

Sandra Black