Chairman’s weekly statement on the coronavirus pandemic – 29 May 2020

I am aware that there has been considerable debate about how the relaxation of lockdown measures will affect the Isles of Scilly. I empathise both with those who wish to see the islands remain closed to non-essential visitors and those who think we cannot sustain our islands’ economy and community without encouraging tourists to return as safely as possible. Ultimately the decision on lockdown measures currently sits with central government so we all need to work within these constraints as safely and effectively as we can.

The best source of advice and guidance is via central government and the Council is doing its best to signpost to government guidance that is of most use to people on Scilly. As soon as we are provided with information, we are passing it on to you and we publish updates to our website and social media channels every day. This is a fast-moving situation and you can help us to ensure everybody is informed by passing official messages and information on to those without internet access.

I can understand that there is some frustration with the speed at which the government is providing guidance or that the guidance can be confusing in some instances. For example, as a business owner, I am acutely aware of the need for the hospitality industry to get clarity on travel and preparations for opening up as soon as possible, including risk assessments and measures to reduce transmission of coronavirus.

For those of you who have suffered from not being able to access business support funding, there is now an opportunity to apply for the second tranche of business support grants. The eligibility criteria have been opened up since the initial announcement, so I urge any business owners who are concerned about ‘falling through the gaps’ to apply now via our website. The application window closes at 23:59 on Sunday 31 May 2020.

It is likely that the £215k pot will not be sufficient to fully meet the needs of businesses who have been severely affected by this pandemic. So far, the number of businesses applying is 81, seeking a total amount of £438,000. I can assure you that we will be making the case to government for additional government funding to support as many businesses as possible. We are also working with the Department for Transport to ensure continued support for the islands’ lifeline transport operators who are inevitably having to deal with significant business pressures.

I hope you will already be aware that the council has launched a consultation which is being led by the Scrutiny Committee in order to capture your views on the issues facing the islands during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re running this consultation to ensure that the Council is reflecting your views when in discussions with central government and other partner organisations. Please complete the online survey by midday on Monday 1 June.

I hope to be able to continue these updates on a weekly basis as part of our commitment to keeping you informed. In the meantime, and as always, I encourage you to read the relevant guidance provided on the government website ( and to keep a close eye on our official Council channels and those of our health and emergency services partners. Finally, I would like to reiterate my thanks to everyone working so hard to keep this community going as safely as possible, and to all of you who are maintaining the social distancing and handwashing practises which continue to be recommended by the NHS and central government.

Robert Francis
Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly

Publishing date: 
Friday, 29 May, 2020