This has been an eventful week in terms of decisions relating to the coronavirus pandemic, both nationally and locally. On Tuesday (23 June 2020) the Prime Minister announced further changes to lockdown measures in England to enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs. These changes take effect from 4 July 2020 and will have a particularly significant impact for our islands. The measures relating to the reopening of the tourist economy were extremely welcome in the sense that we are all reliant on the income it generates. However, many of us also had concerns about how the related government guidance could be implemented on Scilly. Our unique local context has posed many difficult questions and some significant hurdles for decision makers on the islands, but this week saw progress on one of the most challenging issues: how to give reassurance to visitors and businesses in the event of an individual testing postive whilst on holiday.
The Isles of Scilly Coronavirus Fund has been established thanks to a collaboration between the Council of the Isles of Scilly, Tresco Estate and the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company which sought to address concerns raised by islanders and visitors on how best to support visitors if they become ill during their holiday. The details can be found in the following press release: https://www.scilly.gov.uk/news/new-coronavirus-fund-provides-transport-r... The Council’s financial contribution to the fund will come from the government grant issued to deal with the impact of coronavirus. I am thrilled that we have been able to offer a practical solution to a complex problem.
You may have seen my brief television interview this week. If you (blinked and) missed it, you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k69UtEoa4Oc. It was good to see Scilly’s situation highlighted and obviously great that the sun came out so the islands were looking their best. We have much to offer our visitors and will continue to work to ensure we can do so, in line with government guidance and as safely as possible.
We are still working to address the many questions you have raised in relation to the return of visitors from 4 July and know that there concerns around issues such as shopping, transport and health. We'll continue to release information as soon as we have it and our partners are doing the same.
I’m sure everyone remains aware of the need to keep handwashing and social distancing, particularly as we will be seeing a substantial increase in the number of people on the islands in the coming weeks. Most of our visitors are those who already know and love Scilly. I believe they will be respectful of our community and follow our lead by acting responsibly and adhering to the guidance. Of course, we can all play our part in offering a warm welcome and doing whatever we can to help our visitors go about their holidays safely, in accordance with the best interests of the community and the islands.