I am pleased to be able to begin this update on a positive note: it seems that the vast majority of people continue to take the lockdown restrictions seriously and the islands are very quiet as a result. Thank you for showing your support for those who are still busy working away to respond effectively to the pandemic - your efforts make a huge difference to them and their vital work.
Whilst I’m sure we’re all aware of at least some of the information emerging about the national vaccinations rollout programme, I must reiterate that further news relating to the local rollout will come directly from our colleagues in the health service. I know that as a community we are enormously grateful for their efforts in this area and will continue to do our best to support them wherever we can. In the meantime, you can read the NHS’ ‘COVID-19 vaccination: A guide for adults’ leaflet here.
Whitney Curry, Advanced Public Health Practitioner, has produced not one, but two really useful videos this week. The first focuses on the Public Health message in relation to vaccines. As Whitney points out in her video, whilst this is an exciting milestone and the vaccines are safe, we’re still learning about the role that they will ultimately play in preventing transmission and infection and the effects are not immediate. It is, therefore, vital that nobody allows the fact that they have had the vaccination to change their behaviour in relation to the government guidance and restrictions at this stage. Now is not the time to let your guard down. You must continue to stay at home unless you have a permitted reason to leave, wash hands regularly and thoroughly, maintain social distance, wear a face covering and let fresh air into enclosed spaces.
Whitney’s second video outlines what to expect if you are contacted by national Test and Trace or our own Local Incident Response Team. Tracing cases in a pandemic is a difficult task and certain aspects of it are not always intuitive. It really is worth making the effort to watch the video - I certainly learned a thing or two about the processes being managed so effectively behind the scenes.
Our Environmental Health and Licensing Officers have been visiting island businesses to make sure they remain prepared and have the right measures in place to keep their workforce and customers safe. If you haven’t been visited, but would like some advice, you can contact the Environmental Health team on 07780 585 139 or at email@example.com.
We made an important announcement this week about grant funding available to support businesses on the Isles of Scilly during the current lockdown period. The funding is split into two portions: the first for businesses which pay business rates and the second (discretionary element) which is aimed at all businesses that meet the local criteria. You can find the full details here.
I’m aware that this post-Christmas period can be difficult for many at the best of times, with high heating bills and increased time at home adding to household expenses. Please remember that if you are worried about not having the means to pay bills, or buy food or essentials, the Isles of Scilly Hardship Fund may be able to help. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of the following council officers to find out more:
Matt Davis, Social Worker: 01720 424454 / 07810 881381 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Guy, Housing and Tenant Liaison Officer: 01720 424441 / 07925 360405 or email@example.com
Jennie Woodcock, Early Help Assistant, Children's Social Care: 01720 424483 / 07917 198334 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Full details and information about other COVID-19 support can be found here.
I hope the winter weather isn’t getting anyone down too much and that those who are able are still making the most of the opportunity to grab some fresh air and daylight whilst getting your daily exercise. I am forever thankful that we live in a place which enables us to enjoy our beautiful natural surroundings. We are so very lucky to live here and my heart goes out to those who may not have the same opportunities elsewhere. Stay in touch with those you love who may not be feeling so lucky at the moment and try to help them see the positive progress being made - we may have some way to go before we beat this awful disease, but we are getting there.
Keep going, stay safe and be kind to each other,
With best wishes
Robert Francis, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly