Chairman's Weekly Statement on the Coronavirus Pandemic - 3 July 2020

It’s been another busy week for the Council and our partner organisations as we prepare for the reopening of tourism on the islands tomorrow (4 July 2020). On Tuesday, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Outbreak Management Plan was published. This is an important document which sets out how organisations will contain and reduce cases of COVID-19 and safeguard the health of residents, and I am grateful to our Director of Public Health for collating the views of so many partner organisations, including neighbouring authorities, so quickly in order to ensure it could be published ahead of the arrival of visitors on island this weekend. You can read the document in full here: https://www.scilly.gov.uk/news/cornwall-and-isles-scilly-local-outbreak-management-plan. Please be aware that this plan provides a blueprint for action, but is not set in stone. It will need updating regularly in line with changes to national guidance and legislation.

Additionally, on Wednesday our Council, having worked closely with our Public Health colleagues, published a list of responses to some Frequently Asked Questions about visiting Scilly during the coronavirus pandemic. This useful document can be found here:https://www.scilly.gov.uk/news/frequently-asked-questions-visiting-scilly-during-coronavirus-pandemic. It will be updated on a regular basis to provide the latest information.  If you have any questions which are not addressed in the FAQs, please email outbreak@scilly.gov.uk.

As you will be aware, it is not easy to find universally satisfactory solutions to the complex problems which arise during such an unprecedented and largescale event – let alone having to do so with the added complexity of our island context in mind, but the publication of these two important documents is a step in the right direction and represents a lot of collaborative work and good intent both on Scilly and on the mainland. Thank you to all of those involved, and to you all for submitting the excellent questions in the first place. It really is helpful to hear your concerns, so please keep them coming via the email given above.

I’m really proud of the evacuation scheme and how this has developed over the past few days. I’m also really pleased to confirm that Public Health England has now approved these arrangements. It’s a really important element, enabling us to welcome visitors in as safe a way as possible. The aforementioned FAQs document addresses some of the questions we know the community had about this. I’m sure there will be more questions to come and we’ll work hard to answer them and ensure this scheme supports the safety of residents and visitors and allows our economy to slowly recover.

You will probably have seen our Operational Services Team out and about, working hard to prepare our public spaces for reopening. This is a very visible example of just one of the things we are doing to ensure we are prepared for our visitors arriving, with lots more work going on in the background. I realise there is trepidation about how everything will work once numbers start to increase on the islands, but I’m confident we have prepared as well as possible and that our excellent businesses and services will adapt and respond where necessary. This will be a learning process and I’ve no doubt we will overcome any stumbling blocks.

Once again, can I urge everybody to continue to do all of the basic things that can help avoid the spread of coronavirus. Wash your hands, particularly when you return to your home or accommodation after being outside. Wear a face covering, particularly when using transport, visiting the hospital and in crowded indoor spaces. Maintain social distancing – 2m wherever possible. The guidance on staying safe outside the home is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home

We have also put together a notice to residents and visitors about staying safe in Hugh Town at peak times: https://scilly.gov.uk/news/notice-residents-and-visitors-staying-safe-peak-times.

Finally, given the amount of change which will be occurring from Saturday, I have decided to use next week to observe how our plans are working in practice and reflect fully before issuing my next Chairman’s Statement in the following week. Until then, I hope whatever you will be doing in the next week to accommodate these changes goes smoothly and that we can continue to support each other in these testing times.

Publishing date: 
Friday, 3 July, 2020