Orkney Islands Council is now focusing its efforts on the most essential services the local community requires – after the UK and Scottish Governments announced stringent new measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Interim Chief Executive John Mundell said: “The impact of the pandemic – and the ever-increasing measures put in place to minimise the spread of the virus – means that a ‘business as usual’ approach is no longer possible.
“As a result, we now need to concentrate all of our efforts on priority and statutory services – those that safeguard people, property and the environment in Orkney.
“Other less crucial services will either cease or be delivered at a far slower pace than usual.”
The need for personal and family self-isolation and social distancing – to slow the impact of the pandemic - have had an immediate and growing impact on the capacity of the council’s workforce to deliver services. The stay-at-home directives from the two Governments mean that all Council staff who can work from home have been asked to do this. Only staff involved in the Council’s response to the pandemic are required to be in work.
There is now no public access to the council offices in Kirkwall – the doors at customer services are closed. People needing to contact the council are asked to do this via the new MyOrkney service available here or by phone or email.
The Orkney Ferries offices at Shore Street in Kirkwall and at Houton and Tingwall are also closed.
“These are unprecedented and extremely challenging times for the council and for partner originations involved in delivering services to our community,” Mr Mundell said.
“The closure of schools, leisure and culture facilities, the need to provide childcare for the children of key workers, and restrictions on travel in and out of Orkney, are just some of the major developments that demonstrate the speed of the escalating impact Covid-19 is having on all of us.
“It is important that the Council remains responsive and has the flexibility to meet the fast-changing needs of our community.
“Special and temporary governance arrangement are now in place, with the agreement of Elected Members, and these will help facilitate quicker and more responsive decision-making in these unparalleled times. In addition, our long-standing emergency planning procedures are fully engaged, a reflection of the magnitude of the situation we all face.”
Mr Mundell added: “I would like to express my sincere appreciation and thanks for the care, compassion and extraordinary effort being made by partners and colleagues in the council, NHS, voluntary sector, local businesses and the community in general during these unprecedented times.
“We all have an enormous task ahead of us in supporting our community and local businesses. ‘Team Orkney’ is already demonstrating its ability and willingness to rise to the challenge.”