Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 30 April 2021

On Monday we took another important step on the route map out of lockdown as Scotland moved to Level 3 and with that the significant easing of restrictions across retail, hospitality, and travel.

It has been great to see Renfrewshire's cafes, and many pubs and restaurants reopening along with non-essential retail and close contact services such as beauty salons and hairdressers. Many of these businesses have been closed since December so it's important we support them and we're encouraging everyone to Spend Local, because around 65p from every pound spent locally, stays local - so by picking up that coffee, stopping off for lunch or buying that gift, you can do your bit to support the local community and its businesses.

Our colleagues at Renfrewshire Leisure also welcomed back customers to our gyms, pools, libraries, and community facilities this week, albeit with enhanced health and safety measures in place to keep staff and customers safe. These include pre-booking an appointment, physical distancing, one-way systems and the regular cleaning of areas and equipment. I know our customers and residents will be delighted to get back to their local gym and library and I'd like to thank all our colleagues at Renfrewshire Leisure for the hard work and preparation that has gone into the safe reopening on their behalf.

The reason we have been able to take these important first steps is because infection rates and case numbers are falling, in part thanks to the steps we have all taken to protect ourselves and those closest to us as well as the continued success of the vaccination programme.

Almost 400 Linwood residents attended our latest community mobile testing site for people without symptoms this week. The testing site at Tweedy Hall was set-up because of higher-than-average rates of the virus in recent months.

It is hoped by targeting resources within our communities where there is a high prevalence, then we will identify more cases of the virus, giving us a better chance of stopping it from spreading and supporting a return to normality.

Scottish Government this week also confirmed a further expansion to testing with the news that from Monday, free lateral flow home test kits will be available to anyone in the wider population who does not have COVID-19 symptoms. The expansion is aimed at finding cases that would otherwise go undetected, and free test kits can be ordered online from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/get-tested-for-coronavirus/ or picked up direct from the Coronavirus testing centres at Glasgow Airport and Bridge Street Car Park in Paisley or from your local walk/drive through test sites.

The Scottish Parliament elections will take place on Thursday 6 May and I would like to pass on my thanks to everyone who has been working hard behind the scenes to make this happen.

As you can appreciate because of the current coronavirus pandemic this election will be very different, and a considerable amount of work has gone into making sure all of our polling stations, count venue and our staff will be following the latest Scottish Government and public health advice with appropriate hygiene and physical distancing.

I want to reassure you however that your health and wellbeing is our main priority and that's why this year, there will be some changes to the way we normally do things to keep staff and our residents safe.

Every one of our polling stations has undergone an individual risk assessment, staff have been briefed and trained, and there will be a number of changes to our usual process, such as the use of protective screens and sanitiser stations. Keep an eye out on our social media channels next week to see a helpful video setting out what you can expect on the day if you're attending a Renfrewshire polling station to cast your vote.

I hope you all get to enjoy some of the new-found freedoms in the coming weeks, however it is important to remember that we still need to be careful. The virus is more infectious now than it was when bars and caf├ęs were last open, so we must still stick to the rules to continue to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. By doing this, we are hopeful of seeing continued progress in the weeks and months ahead and the further return to normality we're all hoping to see.

Thank you and stay safe

Sandra