Many of you will share my concern about the rise in positive COVID-19 cases in certain parts of the country this week. Government has just announced a series of new, tighter local restrictions for large areas of the north west, Yorkshire and small parts of the midlands. The government message this morning was clear: we must all continue to abide by the guidance in terms of social distancing, hand washing and face covering if we are to avoid a second national lockdown.
I remain hopeful that the majority of people on Scilly will continue to act in the best interests of the community by observing the social restrictions and all government and Public Health Advice as if the virus had already reached the islands. By taking the risks seriously and acting responsibly, we can be assured that we have done everything in our power to mitigate the impact of any future outbreak scenario.
The change of season will bring new challenges as the weather forces us all into closer proximity and the local economy inevitably slows. Whilst it may be tempting to think of the reduction in numbers of people on the islands as the end of the risk period, this is not the case. Please continue to support your local businesses in their off-season period, but remember the current key messages from government remain in place:
HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).
When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:
only meet in groups of 6 or fewer and follow social distancing rules as determined in the guidance
limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
meet people outdoors where practical: meeting people outdoors is safer than meeting people indoors because fresh air provides better ventilation
It is now mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data and keep this for 21 days. There is a toolkit available to help with this activity and government has also published simplified COVID-19 secure guidance for a range of workplaces.
The media stories around the pressures on the NHS Test and Trace system in recent weeks have emphasised the importance of the added resilience afforded by our own fully integrated testing arrangements on island. The local (Devon) route to testing is currently far quicker than the national system it aligns with. All information relating to testing on the Isles of Scilly can be found here. I'd like to thank all of the Council staff and our partners who have worked hard to establish this alternative testing route.
As ever, thank you to everyone who continues to work hard to keep our precious community safe. This is a marathon, not a sprint and I appreciate the resilience everyone has shown so far – we will get through this together.
Chairman of the Council