Chairman's update on the coronavirus pandemic - 5 October 2020

I must begin by offering some reassurance that, at the time of writing, the coronavirus situation on the islands remains the same and there have been no additional positive cases recorded: there is still nothing further you need to do beyond following the government guidance in terms of social restrictions (including the rule of six), social distancing, face covering and hand washing. Obviously, if you have any of the 3 COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate immediately and request a test. In last week’s statement I reminded you that there is always the risk of cases of COVID-19 that we cannot be aware of, either because symptomatic people have not come forward, or because they remain asymptomatic.  It is therefore vital that we continue to abide by government and Public Health advice at all times.

Many of you will be aware of the efforts the staff at Park House have been making to keep their residents safe and well in trying times, under the leadership of Claudia Schwarz. I was delighted to read that Claudia’s work throughout the pandemic and the contribution she has made to Park House during her time there has been recognised by the High Sheriff of Cornwall, Kate Holborow. I would also like to extend my congratulations to Aaron Haile and Mark Bothwick of Bryher shop and Post Office who also received the award, which is for businesses and community members who have gone the extra mile during the pandemic. Well done everyone!
I was saddened to hear last week that the World Pilot Gig Championships 2021 has been cancelled. I gave a brief interview on ITV West Country to talk about what the event means to the islands. As you will be aware the WPGC event provides the local economy with an enormous boost at the beginning of the season. It is also central to raising the profile of the islands and a huge part of our culture.  It will be much missed this year, and whilst I understand why the committee took this decision early, I realise it’s another blow to businesses on Scilly. I hope that we can continue to welcome visitors to the islands regardless of the cancellation of the championships – there is after all lots to enjoy on Scilly during the springtime. I also very much hope that we are able to hold a safe and successful championship in 2022 and beyond.
As a final point, I must recognise that it’s been an extremely challenging couple of weeks for Council staff, particularly those working at the front line of the pandemic response. I want to thank them all for their tireless and continuing efforts. We always welcome feedback from the public (and we don’t always get everything perfect), but I sometimes feel the level of criticism our workforce receives is disproportionate. It is my experience that all of the staff responding to this pandemic are working with the very best of intentions under significant pressure and are all focussed on trying to keep the community safe. Please continue to offer your comments, but try to be constructive and respectful of one another’s views – this will help us to address your concerns more effectively.
As ever, keep safe and look after each other.
Robert Francis


Publishing date: 
Monday, 5 October, 2020