As we come to the end of week 10 in lockdown, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to you all. At the start of this emergency, two of our goals were to protect the frontline services of NHS Orkney and to protect life. With news broadcast last week that in Scotland we may see some changes to lockdown this week, it is clear we have achieved much of what we set out to do but we are not there yet. I wanted to take another opportunity to inform you of what we are doing and what you can do to help.
Consistent messaging by Scottish Government has indicated that we are in a different place with regard to the virus spread than is happening in other parts of Scotland. Please bear this in mind as measures to relax lockdown are introduced at a different pace in Scotland and you should continue to follow the key messages and respect the relaxation of measures we have all earned. The most up to date advice can be found at www.orkney.gov.uk/covid19, www.nhsinform.scot and www.hps.scot.nhs.uk.
Our response structure including the Strategic and Incident Management Teams continue to meet throughout the week. Within these meetings, we have already begun to plan for our recovery, not just in a Council context but also for our communities. Although the message remains to work from home where you can, we know many of you will be concerned about re-entering the workplace, wherever that is located. That is why we have set up a workforce reintegration workstream. Comprising of key Council officers and union representatives, they will look at what is safe within your workplace and how we can deliver services in a more streamlined way than we ever thought possible, including following guidance especially around physical distancing, PPE and best practice.
We have to move in step with what current guidance advises and last week Scottish Government introduced guidance on the route through and out of this pandemic. Contained within the appendix to this document is clear guidance on what the four phases from lockdown will consider and include. As we move from lockdown to phase 1, that will include:
Please be patient as we move through these phases together. Please remember that whilst we have sadly not escaped the effects of the virus in Orkney, we are still stopping the spread of the virus and it is therefore vital that we continue to play our part. It is also important to note that if there is an upturn in the number of cases at any stage the Government have indicated that they may return to lockdown.
There has been media interest in the possibility of Orkney taking an earlier approach to exiting lockdown. We are having some exploratory discussions; and it is important that if we do go in this direction, we ensure the science and support are behind us. Safety is our paramount concern.
Another announcement this week surrounds the Test and Protect initiative. It is important that you realise there are two types of testing regime currently available. If you are a key worker, then you will have access to the clinical testing provided by NHS Orkney. If you are symptomatic, this is available to you via Human Resources. The other, National testing regime, is available to all symptomatic people over 5 years old and is available via the national portal at: www.nhsinform.scot or by dialling 0800 028 2816.
The Test and Protect initiative will place a further strain on our services, most notably Health and Social Care and Housing Services. We are working with NHS Orkney to ensure we adopt a conjoint approach to testing and support our communities as we move forward with the recovery from COVID-19.
We continue to monitor the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and I would encourage you to submit any issues or ideas that you may have, looking ahead.
Finally, I would like to again thank you for everything you have done to support the Council and your community in working together for a better Orkney. I know this has been hard, but our combined efforts have ensured we are better placed for what comes next. With my very best wishes.
John W Mundell OBE
Interim Chief Executive