Chairman's update on the coronavirus pandemic - 13 November 2020

We’ve now been in lockdown for over a week and things certainly feel different to the one at the beginning of the year. It’s good that some of our local businesses are able to remain open and that others are finding different ways to share their products and services with us. I am particularly glad that construction and maintenance works have been allowed to continue, as this will enable the islands to properly prepare for the return of the visitor season. 

Whilst it’s positive that some businesses are able to stay open this time around, it’s clear to me that the restrictions which have been in place throughout this year have hit many people in our community hard. If you are struggling financially, for any reason, and are worried you won’t have the means to buy food, heat your home or access other essentials, you are far from alone and I urge you to get in touch with the organisers of the Hardship Fund. The contact details are below. All of the staff will deal with any enquiry sensitively and confidentially, so please do not put off making the call if you have financial worries.

Rachel Guy:  01720 424441 / 07925 360405
Jennie Woodcock:  01720 424483 / 07917 198334
Matt Davis:  01720 424454 / 07810 881381

My thanks to everyone involved, and the Edward McDonald Trust in particular, for making this fund available. We will be in touch very soon with more information on the full range of winter wellbeing advice, support and activities being made available to our community.

Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Business Rate payees required to close as a result of the lockdown will be contacted within the next week by colleagues from Cornwall Council to confirm their eligibility and State Aid position. If you believe you are eligible and have not been contacted by Monday 23rd November, please contact the Revenues and Benefits Team (0300 1234 105). Full information on this is available at the following link:

You will no doubt have heard about positive developments relating to vaccines. Whilst this is welcome news, it’s really important to stress that everyone on the islands must continue to follow the national government guidance and advice, and that restrictions remain necessary until we are told otherwise by government. At present, none of the potential coronavirus vaccines are ready to be released, so we must be patient whilst the relevant safety tests and licensing processes are completed. I can confirm that we are cooperating with our NHS colleagues who are making preparations to ensure that we are ready to roll a vaccine out to our community as soon as one becomes available. 

Whilst the current restrictions are due to end on 2 December, this is far from guaranteed and will depend on the national picture. The more we do now to get the infection rate under control, the more likely it is that restrictions will be eased and things will continue in the right direction. In addition to the usual messages about washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering and maintaining social distance, I must of course remind you how important it is to stay at home, in line with the latest government guidance. I am aware how difficult being at home for long periods of time can be, so do pick up the phone or do a video call with loved ones who may be missing social interaction at this time. 

I’m always impressed by the adaptability of our community and the willingness of people to be kind and to look after each other in difficult times. Please keep up the good work this winter.

With my very best wishes

Robert Francis

Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly 

Publishing date: 
Friday, 13 November, 2020