Covid briefings

Covid-19
Covid-19

Inverclyde Council's coronavirus (Covid-19) briefings highlight updates and activity connected to the management of the pandemic.

The covid-19 briefings highlight:

  • Changes to council and health and social care services locally
  • National announcements from Government
  • Updates from local and national partners
  • Business information and advice
  • Health and travel advice updates

You can download a copy of each of the daily briefings which began on Monday 16 March 2020 and will be published each day there is an update locally or nationally of relevance to the Inverclyde community.

The latest edition is also published below.

If you are part of an organisation and would like to provide an update on what you are doing as part of the response to coronavirus (covid-19) please email media@inverclyde.gov.uk 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 13 April 2021

Further easing of covid restrictions

The first minister announced today (Tuesday 13 April 2021) further easing of the Covid-19 restrictions.
From Friday (16 April 2021), people will be able to travel outwith their council area and up to six people from a maximum of six households will be able to meet outdoors, subject to usual coronavirus safety rules such as physical distancing.

From Friday 16 April 2021:

  • Travel anywhere within Scotland for the purposes of outdoor socialising, recreation, or informal exercise. Stay local within your own council area until then.
  • A maximum of six adults, from up to six households can meet outdoors (currently a maximum of four adults from two households are permitted).
  • Travel restrictions for wider purposes – such as leisure, shopping, visiting hospitality premises or staying in tourist accommodation – will remain until Monday 26 April 2021 when these places are expected to re-open and all travel restrictions within Scotland will be lifted.

The next update on further easing of restrictions scheduled to be in place for Monday 26 April 2021 will take place on Tuesday 20 April 2021. Read the first minister's statement at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-update-first-ministers-statement-13-april-2021/.

 

Council Tax £100 credit letters

The council is writing to residents who qualify for the new £100 council tax credit this week to let them know about this, that bills will be credited and what the new reduced monthly instalments are.

For more information about council tax, visit www.inverclyde.gov.uk/covid-19/council-tax.

 

Health & Care Awards finalists

Greenock Telegraph Health & Care Awards 2021

Finalists in the Greenock Telegraph Health & Care Awards, sponsored by Inverclyde Council, have been announced.

The full list of nominees is in today’s edition of the paper and online at www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news/19226458.finalists-revealed-first-telegraph-health-care-awards/. 

The winners will be announced in an online awards ceremony via the Greenock Telegraph Facebook page on Thursday (15 April 2021) from 6pm.


Help with digital skills continues

Libraries DiscoverIT sessions

With more people online than ever before during the pandemic, help with digital skills is continuing for Inverclyde residents to get the most out of their devices.

Libraries staff will be on hand virtually on Tuesdays and Thursdays for six weeks delivering sessions on how people can get to grips with their smartphones and tablet computers.

The ‘DiscoverIT Online’ lessons started Tuesday (13 April) between 2-3pm for those with iOS devices, such as an iPhone or iPad, and will begin on Thursday (15 April) from 11am-12pm for anyone needing help with devices featuring the Android operating system.

They follow on from the ‘Device Advice’ helpline, which started in February and is open on Mondays from 10am-11am and Thursdays from 2-3pm on 01475 712346 offering assistance with IT basics, such as turning on a device, connecting to the internet and using email.
Places for the Inverclyde Libraries ‘DiscoverIT Online’ sessions are limited.
For more information or to register, email library.central@inverclyde.gov.uk or phone 01475 712323.

 

Minute’s silence for Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will take place on Saturday 17 April 2021 at 3pm in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The funeral service will begin with a National Minute’s Silence at three o’clock.

For more information about the funeral and to sign an online book of condolences, visit www.royal.uk. 

 

Asymptomatic testing

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 6 April 2021

Return to full-time school announcement

The Scottish Government has confirmed that nearly all pupils will return to full-time school across Scotland when the Easter holidays end.

They have highlighted, however, that children who are on the shielding list are advised to stay at home until 26 April 2021, in line with advice from the Chief Medical Officer. All other pupils, will return to school once the summer term starts.

Strict 2 metre physical distancing between pupils in secondary schools will be removed and schools will consider how they can strengthen other mitigations.

Following the national expansion of lateral flow testing, twice-weekly tests are available for all school staff in primary, secondary and special schools and for secondary school pupils.

Read the full statement at The Scottish Government website: https://www.gov.scot/news/return-to-full-time-school/

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools is also available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-reducing-the-risks-in-schools/

Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels

Mainland Scotland, including Inverclyde, and some islands are at protection level four with guidance to stay local. 

The main points at protection level four are:

  • you must stay local - within your own council area (except for essential reasons like going to work or visiting your extended household)
  • you can meet in groups of up to 4 people from 2 households outdoors 
  • under 12s do not count towards the total number of people or households meeting outside
  • young people aged 12 to 17 can meet outdoors in groups of up to 4 from separate households
  • you can only go into someone else’s home for certain reasons such as to carry out essential work, to join your extended household or to care for a vulnerable person
  • you can provide informal childcare, for example to look after a grandchild, but only where this is essential
  • there are restrictions on care home and hospital visits
  • there are restrictions on funerals (20 people) and weddings (5 people)
  • tradespeople can carry out only essential work and repairs in your home
  • you should work from home wherever that is practicable

Places and business that can open at protection level four include:

  • ·non-mobile hairdressers and barbers by appointment only (from 5 April)
  • essential shops and stores
  • places of worship

Places and business that must close at protection level four include:

  • hospitality venues like cafes, pubs and restaurants (except for delivery and takeaway)
  • close contact services (except for non-mobile hairdressers and barbers)
  • gyms and swimming pools
  • ·non-essential shops and stores (click and collect allowed)
  • libraries (except for pre-booked computer access and click and collect)
  • holiday accommodation (except for essential customers)
  • all indoor visitor attractions (outdoor areas can remain open)

This is not a full list. You can get more information at the Scottish Government website at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/pages/protection-level-4/

Checklist for salons and close contact services

The Scottish Government has created a checklist for salons and close contact services. This document can be used as part of a risk assessment to help these businesses prepare to reopen or continue to operate safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Close contact services include hairdressers, barber shops, beauty and nail bars, spa and wellness businesses, dress fitters and other businesses where close contact is required.

From this week (Monday 5 April 2021), hairdressers and barber shops in Scotland can reopen for appointments.

Other close contact services are expected to be allowed to open from 26 April 2021, subject to review.

The checklist covers the following:

  • premises layout, including ventilation
  • physical distancing and signage
  • adapting services
  • staff and customer safety
  • hygiene and cleaning
  • customer and staff support

Find out more about the regulations (and to download the checklist) from the Scottish Government website and from the find business support website: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/consultancy-and-advice/coronavirus-checklist-for-salons-and-close-contact-services

Asymptomatic test centre re-opening on Wednesday

Inverclyde’s asymptomatic test centre, previously situated in the Gamble Halls Gourock, will reopen at Boglestone Community Centre, Dubbs Place, Port Glasgow PA14 5UD 

Operating hours from then will be Monday to Friday, 11am-5pm.

Tests are free and no booking is required, just pop in. Children aged 5+ can be tested and anyone under 12 should be accompanied to the site.

For more information about the current venue location, opening times and a frequently asked questions section, visit www.inverclyde.gov.uk/asymptomatic-test

Please do not attend if you have a new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste. 

Please do not attend if you are currently self-isolating because you have been identified as a close contact, or if you have tested positive for COVID 19 in the last 90 days.

Tests for people with COVID 19 symptoms can be arranged by visiting NHS inform at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/ or by calling 0300 303 2713.

Coronavius (Covid-19) briefing - Thursday 1 April 2021

Stay local from tomorrow (2 April 2021)

The Scottish Government has announced that people across Scotland can make non-essential journeys in their council area from Friday 2 April 2021 when a requirement to ‘stay local’ will replace the ‘stay at home’ rule.

Hairdressers, garden centres, car showrooms and forecourts, homeware stores and non-essential click and collect services will be able to open from Monday 5 April 2021, subject to enhanced safety measures including physical distancing, face coverings and pre-booking where appropriate. More college students will be able to return to on-campus learning and 12-17 year-olds will be able to resume outdoor contact sports from this date.

Restrictions on non-essential travel across council boundaries will remain in place. People must stay within their council area for non-essential shopping and should only travel to another area for essential shopping if there are no practical alternatives. People should also continue to work from home where they can to prevent unnecessary contact that could risk transmission of the virus.

The Scottish Government has highlighted that guidance will be updated on Friday and Monday to take account of the changes confirmed today (30 March 2021).

Read the full statement at the Scottish Government website: https://www.gov.scot/news/stay-local-from-2-april/

A new campaign will launch from today (1 April 2021) across the country encouraging people to stay local.

Look out for the campaign on council social media accounts and help share the key messages:

  • Guidance is now to stay local. Travel within council areas is allowed. We all need to stick to the guidelines so we can keep moving forward and get back together again. For more information: gov.scot/coronavirus #protectyourself #protectothers #protectInverclyde #staylocal
  • In mainland Scotland, 4 adults from 2 households can socialise outdoors. Or 4 from 4 households if you’re 12-17. To stop the spread, we need to stick to the guidelines. For more information: gov.scot/coronavirus #protectyourself #protectothers #protectInverclyde #staylocal

Inverclyde Chief Executive to retire

Inverclyde Council’s Chief Executive, Aubrey Fawcett, has announced his retirement from the Council.

The Chief Executive, in charge of a staff of 4,500 and a budget of £203m is set to step down from his post in late September 2021 to allow time for a new Chief Executive to be appointed to the Council.

Aubrey Fawcett joined Inverclyde Council in 2006 and held the post of Corporate Director Environment, Regeneration and Resources prior to becoming Chief Executive in September 2016.  Aubrey has worked previously with North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council, Clackmannanshire Council, Fife Regional Council, North Yorkshire County Council and Aberdeen City Council.

Aubrey has over 35 years local government service. During his service he has been a driving force in national initiatives including Chairing the Scottish Government’s Futures Board on building standards and Co-Chairing a number of national climate change working groups where Aubrey represented the society of local authority chief executives (SOLACE).

During his time as Chief Executive Inverclyde Council has gone through a number of highly positive external evaluation reports including Justice Social Work Services in 2019 by the Care Inspectorate, Education Scotland in 2018, a review of children’s services work carried out through the Inverclyde Alliance in 2017 by the Care Inspectorate and also in 2017 the highly significant best value audit into the council which concluded that there had been a ‘sea change’ in how local services are run and described Inverclyde Council as the most improved in Scotland. Aubrey has also led the council’s response to the Covid Pandemic and charted its route through recovery.

Inverclyde Council Leader, Councillor Stephen McCabe, said:  “I am naturally disappointed Aubrey is leaving the Council but I fully respect his decision. Aubrey has delivered real success during his time at Inverclyde Council both as Corporate Director and more recently as Chief Executive. He has made a huge contribution to the progress the Council has made in the last 15 years and the success of the Council has been highlighted repeatedly during his tenure with a number of highly positive inspections not least the Audit Scotland report which highlighted Inverclyde’s reputation for sound financial management and good working relationships particularly with trade unions and partners.”

Aubrey Fawcett, Chief Executive of Inverclyde Council, said: “I have very much enjoyed my time with Inverclyde Council since arriving here in 2006 and it has been an enormous privilege serving the people of Inverclyde and working with all Members and staff both past and present.  I would like to thank all for their support over the years and in particular over the past year which has thrown up so many challenges to how we deliver public services during a pandemic and the many restrictions in place.  Inverclyde has made its mark on me and I am proud of the strong reputation we have built, the levels of teamwork right across the Council and the commitment to working together as partners across many agencies and organisations focussed on the needs of the community.”

A report is expected to go to the April meeting of the full council setting out the process for recruitment to the position of Chief Executive of Inverclyde Council.

NatureScot Better Places Green Recovery Fund - Round 2

The Better Places Green Recovery Fund helps communities and destinations develop visitor management plans for nature ‘hotspots’ across Scotland. Following the success of Round 1 in 2020, Round 2 is now open for applications.

  • Deadline for fast delivery project applications: Friday 9 April 2021 at midnight
  • Deadline for all other applications: Friday 14 May 2021 at midnight

Up to £2.75 million has been allocated for Round 2 of the fund, with an emphasis on supporting new activity that can be in place for May 2021. The fund will operate over a slightly longer timescale to consider projects which can be ready to support visitor management during the peak of the season.

Full details and eligibility criteria is available at: https://www.nature.scot/funding-and-projects/better-places-green-recovery-fund

Health and social care staff - £500 thank you payment

The Scottish Government announced on 30 November 2020 a one-off £500 payment for health and social care staff across Scotland.

The payment aimed to recognise the extraordinary effort that health and social care staff have made during the pandemic.

The Scottish Government has finalised its guidance on who is eligible for the payment.  Employees who are eligible will now receive letters from the council’s organisational development, policy and communications service as the council is administering the payment on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The full guidance, including eligibility criteria, the complaints procedure and a Q&A about the payment is available at The Scottish Government website: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-social-care-workforce-payment---guidance-for-local-authorities/pages/overview/

First Games of the season cancelled
Gourock Highland Games has been called off for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions on outdoor events.  The Council is examining options with partners for a possible reschedule for later in the year, subject to covid restrictions being relaxed for outdoor events.  Full details are published at the council website: https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/news/2021/mar/first-games-of-the-season-cancelled

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 16 March 2021

Timetable for easing restrictions

The Scottish Government has published a ‘timetable for easing restrictions’ which sets out dates when some lockdown restrictions may be lifted.

The full timetable is available at the Scottish Government website at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-timetable-for-easing-restrictions/pages/timetable/

The timetable includes:

2 April 2021 - lifting the ‘Stay at Home’ requirement and replacing it with a ‘Stay Local’ message (retaining the current, local authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period)

5 April – The Scottish Government will continue to monitor closely this encouraging data. Assuming that all goes well, our next significant milestone for easing restrictions will be 5 April 2021, when The Scottish Government plan to ease a wider range of current restrictions in level 4 areas (some of these activities/settings are already permitted/open in Level 3 island communities) including:

  • the resumption of outdoor contact sport for 12-17 year olds
  • return of college students within the top three priority groups identified by Colleges Scotland as most likely not to complete this academic year (estimated as 29% of learners)
  • reopening of non-essential ‘click and collect’ retail
  • extending the list of retail permitted to include:
  • ° garden centres (indoor and outdoor)
  • ° key cutting shops ° mobility equipment shops
  • ° baby equipment shops
  • ° electrical repair shops
  • ° hairdressers and barbers (with shopfronts – not mobile services), by appointment only
  • ° homeware shops
  • ° vehicle showrooms (appointment only) and forecourts

The prohibition of in-home socialising will continue to be kept under review at this date.

12/19 April 2021 - depending on term times all children back to school full-time

26 April 2021 - Subject to supply by mid-April, The Scottish Government plans to have offered the vaccine to priority vaccine groups 1-9, based on the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation advice for protecting the most vulnerable in our population. Assuming the data allows it, a more significant reopening of the economy and society from 26 April 2021. This will likely include the following easings (some of these activities/settings are already permitted/open in Level 3 island communities).

  • extending outdoor socialising to permit up to 6 people from up to 3 households to gather
  • allowing 12-17 year olds to meet outdoors in groups of 6 from up to 6 households
  • travel within all of mainland Scotland permitted (subject to other restrictions that remain in place)
  • remaining shops can reopen and mobile close contact services can resume
  • gyms can reopen for individual exercise
  • tourist accommodation to reopen (self-catering accommodation to be restricted in line with rules on indoor gathering)
  • work in people’s homes to resume • driving lessons to resume
  • weddings and funerals for up to 50 (including wakes and receptions with no alcohol permitted)
  • libraries, museums, galleries re-open
  • outdoor hospitality to open till 22:00 with alcohol permitted. Indoor hospitality permitted without alcohol and closing at 20:00
  • social mixing in indoor public places will be subject to current maximum of 4 people from up to 2 households The prohibition of in-home socialising will continue to be kept under review at this date.

17 May 2021 -  Three weeks on from the publication of the last update, and given the progress with the vaccination programme and what we have learned about its impact on reducing transmission of the virus, we are now in a position to add a new indicative date for further easing of restrictions. From 17 May we hope to introduce the following easings:

  • re-introducing in-home socialising for up to 4 people from up to 2 households
  • further re-opening of hospitality: bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 22:30 indoors with alcohol permitted and 2 hour time-limited slots and until 22:00 outdoors with alcohol permitted
  • adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume
  • cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can re-open
  • small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints (to be confirmed following stakeholder engagement)
  • colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning
  • more in-person (face-to-face) support services can resume
  • non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors

Self-referral for unpaid carers starts

People who provide vital face-to-face care and support for others who haven’t already been given an appointment are now being invited to self-register for the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you are aged 16 and over and provide face-to-face care for a friend, family member or neighbour it may be time for you to roll up your sleeve for the COVID-19 vaccination.  You can check if you are eligible for the vaccine as a carer by using the self-registration at https://nhsinform.scot/carersregister  or by calling the Covid Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013. If eligible, you can then self-register as a carer to get your vaccination.

Temporary tax reliefs on qualifying capital asset investments from 1 April 2021

This measure will temporarily introduce increased reliefs for expenditure on plant and machinery. For qualifying expenditures incurred from 1 April 2021 up to and including 31 March 2023, companies can claim in the period of investment:

  •          a super-deduction providing allowances of 130% on most new plant and machinery investments that ordinarily qualify for 18% main rate writing down allowances
  •          a first year allowance of 50% on most new plant and machinery investments that ordinarily qualify for 6% special rate writing down allowances

The measure also temporarily amends the rules covering expenditure incurred on plant and machinery used partly in a ring fence trade in the oil and gas sector.  Full details and eligibility criteria is published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-temporary-tax-reliefs-on-qualifying-capital-asset-investments-from-1-april-2021/new-temporary-tax-reliefs-on-qualifying-capital-asset-investments-from-1-april-2021

Help to grow: support for business

The Help to Grow programme is designed to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across the UK learn new skills, reach new customers and boost profits.

The programme has two strands:

  •          Help to Grow: Management – an Executive Development programme that could help you improve business performance and growth potential
  •          Help to Grow: Digital – free online advice and discounts on software that could help you save time and cut costs

Help to Grow: Management

This 12-week programme for SMEs will begin in June 2021. It is delivered by leading business schools across the UK, with 30,000 places available over 3 years. The programme will combine a practical curriculum, with 1:1 support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions and an alumni network. Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, this programme will help small business leaders develop their strategic skills. The main modules will cover financial management, innovation and digital adoption. By the end of the programme, participants will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential.

Help to Grow: Digital

A new online platform launching in autumn 2021 will provide free impartial advice for SMEs on how technology can boost their performance. Eligible businesses will also be able to get a discount of up to 50% on the costs of approved software, worth up to £5,000. Vouchers are initially expected to be available for software that helps businesses:

  •          build customer relationships and increase sales
  •          make the most of selling online
  •          manage their accounts and finances digitally

Full details of the scheme are available at: https://helptogrow.campaign.gov.uk/

Campervan and Motorhome Rental Operators Fund

Deadline for applications is 5pm on Thursday 18 March 2021.

The purpose of this fund is to support the financial continuity of eligible campervan and motorhome rental businesses while COVID-19 restrictions on opening and travel are still in place, and to support them to prepare for accepting visitors later in 2021, when it is hoped restrictions will be lifted. You can apply through the online application form on VisitScotland.org. This £1 million fund is being delivered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, with development input from the Campervan and Motorhome Professional Association (CaMPA). VisitScotland is the awarding body for this fund.  Full details of this fund including eligibility criteria and deadlines is available at: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/campervan-motorhome-operator-fund

Scottish Parliament – notice of election published

The notice of election has been published marking the start of the Scottish Parliament elections.  The notice, published for the Greenock and Inverclyde constituency and for the West Scotland region is available to view in full at the council website.  The notice highlights the date of election as Thursday 6 May 2021, deadlines for nomination of candidates, electoral registration, postal and proxy votes.  Read the full notices at: https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/news/2021/mar/notice-of-election-scottish-parliament

Inverclyde on TVs Good Morning Britain show

St Columba’s High in Gourock featured on ITV’s flagship Good Morning Britain breakfast news programme this week as more young people and staff returned across Inverclyde and Scotland to the classroom. Head teacher Nicola Devine and S6 pupils Hannah McGeehan and Brendan Gallagher were interviewed live by correspondent Juliet Dunlop for the 6am and 7am bulletins with footage and interviews also shared with STV News and ITV News.

If your service is working hard to keep residents and visitors safe during the covid-19 pandemic, contact the council’s communications, tourism and health and safety service at media@inverclyde.gov.uk

Link to Greenock Telegraph Health & Care Awards 2021 in association with Inverclyde Council entry form: http://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/healthandcare/   

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Thursday 11 March 2021

Changes to Level 4 restrictions

More people will be able to socialise outdoors following an update to the level four restrictions announced by the Scottish Government. Up to four adults from two households will be able to meet locally in any outdoor space, including in private gardens, for social and recreational purposes as well as exercise from Friday 12 March 2021. People should only go indoors if it is essential in order to reach a back garden, or to go to the toilet.

Outdoor non-contact sports and group exercise will also resume for adults in groups of up to to 15 people from this date.

Young people aged 12 to 17 will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to four people from four different households, participate in outdoor non-contact sports, and other organised activities in groups of up to 15 and travel across local authority boundaries to participate in such activities.

Should progress suppressing the virus continue, the Scottish Government intends to reopen places of worship with attendance limits increased from 20 to 50 where there is space for social distancing on Friday 26 March 2021. A final decision will be taken on Tuesday 23 March 2021 ahead of Passover, Easter, Ramadan and Vaisakhi.

Updated guidance and regulations will be published by the Scottish Government on Friday 12 March 2021 to reflect these changes.

Under 60s to begin receiving vaccination invitations

Invitations to coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination appointments will start to be issued this week for people aged 50-59, who were not included in previous priority groups, The Scottish Government has announced.

Vaccinations to those aged between 55 and 59 years old (group 8 on the priority list) will begin week beginning 15 March 2021, with those aged 50-54 (group 9 on the priority list) starting to receive their injections the week after that.

The national vaccination programme is currently moving through group 6 on the priority list which includes those with particular underlying health conditions and unpaid carers. The Scottish Government has also announced that next week a self-referral online service will launch to enable any eligible unpaid carers who have not received an invitation to register themselves. https://www.gov.scot/news/under-60s-to-begin-receiving-vaccination-invitations/

Covid-19 Discretionary fund – phase 2

The purpose of this fund is to provide financial support to Inverclyde businesses who have less than 250 employees and have been unable to secure any COVID-19 business grant support from October 2020.

Excluded from applying:

  • Organisations that have already received support for the COVID-19 discretionary fund.
  • ALEOs are not eligible for this fund, Arm’s-length external organisations, also organisations that are in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made, business found to have breached any COVID-19 Regulations.

Full details and application form are available at: https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/covid-19/business-support

Completed applications should be sent to: eds.enquiries@inverclyde.gov.uk

Recovery loan scheme

The Recovery Loan Scheme will provide support to UK businesses as they recover and grow following the disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The scheme ensures that businesses of any size can continue to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £10 million per business once the existing COVID-19 loan schemes close.

The UK Government will guarantee 80% of the finance to the lender to give them the confidence to lend to businesses.

  • Term loans and overdrafts will be available in amounts between £25,001 and £10 million per business.
  • Invoice finance and asset finance will be available in amounts between £1,000 and £10 million per business.

Once received, the finance can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including growth and investment.

The scheme launches on 6 April 2021 and is open until 31 December 2021, subject to review. Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders, whose names will be made public in due course.

Full details on eligibility and how to apply are available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/recovery-loan-scheme

Hostel COVID-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund

Strand 2 of this fund is now open for applications. The deadline to apply is midday on Tuesday 16 March 2021.

The £2.8 million fund has been established to provide financial support for the Scottish-based hostel sector. It is being delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government by VisitScotland, with development input from Scottish Independent Hostels, Hostelling Scotland and Independent Hostels UK.

Following feedback from industry and recognising a funding gap for larger hostels in Scotland, a second strand of the fund has been created to support hostels in Scotland with a rateable value above £51,000 who were not eligible for the first strand of funding.and

A two-strand approach to grant funding is necessary to meet the needs of the sector:

  • Strand 1 is now closed for applications: this supports hostels in Scotland with a rateable value below £51,000.
  • Strand 2 is open for applications from midday on Tuesday 9 March to midday on Tuesday 16 March 2021: this is open to proprietors of large hostel businesses with a rateable value above £51,000.

Full details on eligibility and how to apply are available at: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/hostels-support-fund

Police Scotland introduce what3words as additional location finding tool

Members of the public calling 999/101 can now use a mobile phone app to identify their location when they are in an unknown or remote area.

Police Scotland has introduced what3words as an additional location sharing tool. What3words grids the Earth into 3x3 metre squares by encoding GPS coordinates to give each square a unique set of three words. This means that when someone contacts Police Scotland, they have the option to use what3words if they are in an unfamiliar area, rural location or one that is difficult to describe. However, Police Scotland service advisors will always ask for a postal address as default when someone calls 999/101 – this will not change.

The app is already in use by the majority of emergency services across the UK, including Scottish Fire and Rescue and Scottish Ambulance Service. What3words will also help to support local policing incidents and pre-planned operations and events.

Read the full announcement at Police Scotland’s website: https://www.scotland.police.uk/what-s-happening/news/2021/march/police-scotland-introduce-what3words-as-additional-location-finding-tool/

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Friday 5 March 2021

Schools return update

Following the announcement this week by the Scottish Government on the further return of pupils to schools and early learning centres, the following letter has been issued to update parents and carers:

Dear Parent,

You will be aware that the First Minister confirmed on Tuesday 2 March 2021 the next phase of reopening education.  This is welcome news as we look forward to bringing back all pupils in a phased way from the week beginning 15 March 2021.  Pupils in our Early Years settings and Primary 1-3 have already returned to school and have quickly settled back into their daily routine.

I want to reassure you that our school staff are ready to welcome your children and young people back.  Everyone will still have to remain careful and follow the measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus.

Head teachers will be in touch with you directly during the week beginning 8 March to provide specific details for your school, however I wanted to write to you to share the agreed timeline for your child’s return.

Primary Schools

Pupils in P4-7 will return to school on Monday 15 March, joining P1-3 pupils who are already back at school.  All P4– P7 children who are entitled to a free school meal will now access this in school from Monday 15 March 2021.

Secondary Schools

From 15 March, all secondary pupils will receive some remote learning and some in-school teaching.  The approach your child’s school is taking will be communicated to you and your child to ensure everyone knows when to be in school and when to work from home.

Each school will decide how to safely balance remote and in-school learning, ensuring that everyone is safe and in-keeping with the 2m physical distancing required between learners and adults.

Priority for in school face to face lessons will be given to senior phase students (S4-S6) who are taking national qualifications.

Our S1-S3 pupils will also have an opportunity to return to school.  Although this will be limited given the priority to our senior pupils and the restrictions previously outlined regarding physical distancing and accommodation, they will receive a planned weekly time in school. This planned time will prioritise their health and wellbeing following lockdown.

Please note that provision for key worker families and vulnerable learners will continue for all eligible pupils.

In order to make sure that schools can provide in school time each week for all learners it will be necessary for them to reconsider their current remote learning offer and make adaptations as required.  A focus will continue to be on high quality provision but within the resources available.

The specific arrangements in place if your child attends Craigmarloch School will be communicated through the Head teacher in the coming days.

Transport

Pupils who travel by school transport will continue to be able to do so.   Further details will be available next week if there are any changes to the arrangements for your child.

School Meals

School meals will be available for all primary school pupils and secondary pupils when they are in school.  If your child is entitled to free school meals you will receive a further communication about payments in place for the days your child is not in school.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all our families, children and young people for their continued support as we do all that we can to ensure that we provide the best possible education whilst keeping our community safe.

Ruth Binks
Director of Education, Communities and Organisational Development

Covid-19 discretionary fund 2nd phase

The purpose of this Fund is to provide financial support to Inverclyde businesses who have less than 250 employees and have been unable to secure any COVID-19 business grant support from October 2020.

Full details on the fund including the application form are available at: https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/covid-19/business-support

Excluded from applying:

  • Organisations that have already applied for the COVID-19 DISCRETIONARY FUND.
  • ALEOs are not eligible for this fund, Arm’s-length external organisations, also organisations that are in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made, business found to have breached any COVID-19 Regulations

Workplace testing expanded

The Scottish Government has announced that routine testing is being rolled out to high-risk workplaces.

Food production and processing businesses are being urged to sign up for routine staff testing to help identify cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), keep workforces safe and break chains of transmission.

Free lateral flow antigen test kits are available to eligible businesses which are essential to maintaining an adequate supply of food for the nation, and where outbreak risks can be higher due to the working environment such as abattoirs, meat and seafood processing facilities and dairies, as well as food distribution businesses.

The Scottish Government would like to hear from larger (over 25 employees) higher risk food processing businesses such as abattoirs, meat and seafood processing and dairies where, despite mitigations already in place, a combination of low temperatures, limited ventilation, low light, high humidity can facilitate spread of the virus and lead to outbreaks.

If your business would be interested in taking part, please email FoodSupplyInformation@gov.scot with the following information:

  • Name and Email for main point of contact
  • Business Name
  • Industry sector – This should be the standard industry code (e.g. 46380 - Wholesale of other food, including fish, crustaceans and molluscs). For companies this can be found on your Companies House registration.
  • Number of employees
  • Company registration number (if applicable)
  • Address where the test kits would be delivered to (including postcode)

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Monday 1 March 2021

Asymptomatic covid testing site

A testing centre for people in Inverclyde who are not displaying Covid-19 symptoms is being set up in Gourock.

It will be located at the Gamble Halls in Shore Street and will be open from tomorrow (Tuesday 2 March 2021). The facility is aimed at people who have Covid-19 but may not realise it because their symptoms are so mild or unusual to help reduce transmission of the virus further.

The site will operate on a drop-in basis, with no appointment needed, and results of the free rapid coronavirus test will usually be available within 30 minutes. The Gourock site is one of eight being set up across the NHS GGC area and will be run by the Army. It will be open between 11am and 7pm Tuesday-Friday and 9am-5pm on Saturdays.

The centre is for asymptomatic testing only for people who live and work locally who are not experiencing coronavirus symptoms. Anyone who is experiencing covid symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell, a high temperature or new and continuous cough, should arrange a test in the normal way via their employer, GP or NHS24.  Advice will be given at the asymptomatic test centre of support available if someone tests positive so that they can isolate and stop the spread the virus. Other asymptomatic testing centres may be opened in other areas throughout early spring.

For more information, including a frequently asked questions section, visit www.inverclyde.gov.uk/asymptomatic-test

To find out about Covid-19 testing, including for those people who may be experiencing symptoms, please visit www.nhsinform.scot or the coronavirus pages of www.inverclyde.gov.uk/coronavirus

Inverclyde residents can call the local coronavirus helpline on 01475 715275 to access a wide range of advice and support, from shielding information and food deliveries, to prescription deliveries and keeping homes warm this winter.

New variant of COVID-19 detected in Scotland

Three cases of a COVID-19 Variant of Concern first identified in Manaus, Brazil, have been identified in Scotland. Following their return to North East Scotland from Brazil, via Paris and London, three Scottish residents entered self-isolation and then subsequently tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19). These individuals then self-isolated for the required period of 10 days.

Clinical and trial data continues to be assessed to examine how this new variant may respond to current COVID-19 vaccines. Read the full statement at: https://www.gov.scot/news/new-variant-of-covid-19-detected-in-scotland/

Specialist support for health and social care staff

Health and social care professionals will have access to a new specialist service offering confidential mental health assessment and treatment.

If you are a regulated practitioner working in Scotland, find out more about what the service provides and how to refer yourself by visiting: The Workforce Specialist Service (WSS) - PRoMIS | National Wellbeing Hub for those working in Health and Social Care or you can also email prac.health@nhs.net or call 0300 0303 300.

The National Wellbeing Hub – www.promis.scot – contains a broad range of advice and evidence-based resources including digital apps to help staff and unpaid carers cope with issues such as stress, anxiety, sleep problems, and to enhance personal resilience. It also signposts to a range of other national and local services. The National Wellbeing Helpline – 0800 111 4191 – provides a 24/7 service to those who require psychological support and can offer advice, signposting and onward referral to local services where required.

Income maximisation campaign

A new income maximisation campaign aims to help people in Scotland who are looking to improve their financial situation and directs them to the Citizens Advice Scotland’s ‘money map tool’.

The money map tool helps you cut through the information that is out there. It can help show people how they can save money and help meet the cost of living, through a free, confidential and an easy to use online tool.

The goal of the campaign is to prevent more people in Scotland falling into poverty as a result of the pandemic by providing income maximisation advice and support.  Money map tool: https://moneymap.scot/

Scotland Tour Operators Fund

The £15 million fund is being delivered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and has been developed with input from the Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Destination Management Association, the Scottish Incoming Golf Tour Operators Association, UK Inbound and the Scottish Independent Tour Operators Association.  Due to the complexity and breadth of businesses within the sector, a two-strand approach to grant funding is necessary to meet the needs of the sector. 

The two strands are:

  • Scotland Inbound Tour Operators - COVID-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund 
  • Scotland Day Tour Operators - COVID-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund

Find out more about eligibility criteria and how to apply at Visit Scotland’s website: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/inbound-tour-operators-fund 

Inverclyde in the news

Good Morning Britain
Good Morning Britain,
live from Greenock

With care home visiting resuming across Scotland from today (Monday 1 March 2021), Inverclyde has featured across the UK on ITVs breakfast news programme Good Morning Britain for the second time in a week.  Last week the return to school of some primary pupils featured on the flagship programme, broadcast to an audience of around 1 million daily.

This morning Greenock’s Bagatelle care home, part of Greenock Medical Aid Society where David met with his mum Lily after months apart.  Inverclyde is expected to feature on tonight’s STV evening news and in national daily press tomorrow.

If your service is working hard to keep residents and visitors safe during the covid-19 pandemic, contact the council’s communications, tourism and health and safety service at media@inverclyde.gov.uk 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Monday 22 February 2021

Priority six focus for vaccine programme

The Scottish Government has announced that priority group six - people with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers - are beginning to receive coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations.

Priority group 6 is one of the largest on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) list.

The first to be invited will be people who have conditions which are included on both the JCVI priority list and the flu vaccine list. Although there is some overlap, the two lists are not exactly the same. They will be invited at the same time as unpaid carers who receive carers’ benefits or who have been identified by GPs.

Carers who do not receive carers benefits, and who have not been identified by GPs, will be asked to come forward to register for their vaccine at a later date through an online portal or the national helpline. Work is also ongoing to identify people with underlying conditions who are not on the modified flu vaccine list, and they will be invited shortly.

Anyone aged 70 or over who has not yet been invited for their vaccine should visit nhsinform.scot for further advice, or call the national helpline on 0800 030 8013.

The full statement published by the Scottish Government on their website inclydes a list of conditions set out in priority group six for people aged 16 to 64: https://www.gov.scot/news/next-stage-for-vaccine-programme/

Care home visits to resume

Routine indoor visiting of care home residents by relatives, friends and carers will be able to resume from early March with care providers supporting residents to have up to two designated visitors each and one visit a week for each visitor, the Scottish Government has announced.

With a wide range of protections now in place against COVID-19 for care home residents, it is has been decided meaningful contact should be made easier for the wellbeing of residents and their loved ones.

The most recent of these protections is the COVID vaccine with more than 99.9% of older care home residents and 92% of staff now vaccinated with first dose. Additionally, the national picture of coronavirus outbreaks in care homes is improving.  NRS data shows that deaths from coronavirus in care homes have fallen by 62% in the last three weeks and the balance is now in favour of allowing contact to resume.

Guidelines to be published on Wednesday 24 February will support care providers to resume visiting for up to two designated visitors per resident. Every time someone goes into a care home it is a COVID  risk.

Read the full statement on the Scottish Government website at: https://www.gov.scot/news/care-home-visits-to-resume/

Close contacts to be offered testing

Anyone who is identified as a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) will be asked to get tested.

The measure is designed to find asymptomatic cases that would otherwise go undetected, as close contacts are at higher risk than the wider population, given their exposure to somebody with COVID-19.

Previously, outbreak Incident Management Teams (IMTs) have had the ability to order testing of close contacts on a case-by-case basis, in line with local assessment of clinical risk.

Now everyone who has been identified as a close contact via the Protect Scotland app, or through manual contact tracing, will be provided with instructions on how to book a PCR test.

The full statement is available at the Scottish Government website at: https://www.gov.scot/news/close-contacts-to-be-offered-testing/ and more information on covid-19 contract tracing in Scotland is available from the NHS inform website: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/test-and-protect/coronavirus-covid-19-contact-tracing

Schools campaign launched

Parent Club have developed a campaign to help parents and their children to feel supported in abiding with all current restrictions throughout the phased return to schools and ELC settings.

By following the rules, parents and children can help keep schools and nurseries open, and will help to open the school gates for more pupils. This campaign launches today (Monday 22 February 2021) and run on digital and social channels until Wednesday 24 March 2021.

The key messages of the campaign are aligned with the content of the Jason Leitch letter, which has been sent to all parents of ELC and P1-3 children. 

Messaging:

  • Adults wear face coverings at drop off/pick up
  • Stick to one adult at pick up/drop off
  • Adults keep 2 metres apart
  • Avoid car sharing
  • Self-isolate if anyone in your household has symptoms

Schools return in the media

The return of school pupils in Inverclyde was featured across the UK on ITV’s Good Morning Britain breakfast show with live broadcasts highlighting the measures schools have in place to support young people with the broadcast starting around 6am from St John’s Primary School.

Kilmacolm Priamry School is expected to feature on Channel 4 News tonight, Ardgowan Primary School parents and staff were interviewed by Channel 5 News with St Patrick’s Primary interviewed by the Greenock Telegraph while Inverkip Primary School were interviewed by Radio Clyde and print and digital media across the country.

If your service is doing something to keep people safe during the covid pandemic, contact the communications, tourism and health and safety service at media@inverclyde.gov.uk

Employers testing portal

From 26 February 2021 the employers referral portal Covid 19 testing will no longer be available. This has been used by the Council to book priority covid 19 tests for staff or household members of essential workers.

Symptomatic essential workers have been able to book tests directly through the self-referral portal since December 2020. The self-referral portal provides essential workers with a more streamlined journey, making it simpler for them to book prioritised test slots and ensures that they can access tests when needed. 

To ensure they receive a prioritised slot, essential workers should tick the relevant box on the self-referral portal to indicate their status.

From Friday 26 February 2021 staff should book tests directly via the self-referral portal at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test and not via either covid.test@inverclyde.gov.uk or school.covidtest@inverclyde.gov.uk.

It remains essential that if you have symptoms of Covid 19, no matter how mild, or if you suspect that you may have caught it, self-isolate and book a test. Do not attend work, do one last shop or, go to meet someone.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Wednesday 17 February 2021

Youngest pupils return to classroom

The majority of primary and secondary school pupils will continue with remote learning until at least mid-March while children in early learning and childcare (ELC) and primaries 1 to 3 will return full-time to classrooms from Monday 22 February 2021, the Scottish Government has announced. Very limited numbers of S4 - S6 pupils who require to complete practical work in order to achieve an SQA certificate will also return from Monday. Pupils currently in classrooms – primarily the children of key workers and those considered vulnerable – will retain their places.

Ministers also confirmed hopes that further detail on the next phase of school return could be provided on 2 March 2021. Council schools and early learning centres in Inverclyde are writing direct to parents to let them know arrangements for pupils.

NHS 24 Equality Communications

NHS 24 have developed brand new communication channels to help as many people as possible access the COVID-19 information they are providing.

  • People who want to access the coronavirus self-help guide but don’t use the internet can choose the automated voice option when they phone the NHS inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88 (open every day).
  • People whose first or preferred language is not English can find translated information about coronavirus here www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus
  • British Sign Language (BSL) users can find BSL translations about health topics, including coronavirus here www.nhsinform.scot/BSL  and on our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/nhsinform
  • Looking for information about coronavirus in audio format? Go to www.nhsinform.scot/translations/formats/audio
  • Looking for information about coronavirus in easy read format? Go to www.nhsinform.scot/translations/formats/easy-read

Scotland Coach Operators COVID-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund

This fund is now open for applications.  The £10 million fund is being delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government by VisitScotland, with development, input and criteria setting from the Confederation of Passenger Transport. VisitScotland is the awarding body for this fund.

This is a one-off fund to help support coach tour operators while restrictions on travel are still in place, and to help prepare for recommencing operations when restrictions are lifted.

This fund will not support the cost of operating public bus services, or businesses whose income is mainly derived from non-tourism sources such as: bus services, home to school contracts, rail replacement services and local authority contracts

Application process:

Applications are now open until 5pm on Tuesday 23 February 2021.   Any applications received after this period will not be considered. Applications will not be assessed on a first come, first served basis. Please refer to the https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/coach-operator-fund/guidance when completing an application.

Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund

This grant scheme is designed to help alleviate financial hardship for newly self-employed people who meet the eligibility criteria set out below.

The funding is being provided by the Scottish Government and will be open to applications for 4 weeks.

The scheme offers a one-off £4,000 payment for those whose status as being newly self-employed makes them ineligible for the UK Government’s Coronavirus (Covid-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

To be eligible for the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, you must be able to demonstrate that you:

  • Became self-employed on or after 6 April 2019 but before 17 March 2020 (and are therefore ineligible for the UK Government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme because you did not submit a tax return including income from self-employment for 2018-19)
    or
  • Became self-employed between 1 October 2018 and 6 April 2019 but are ineligible for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) because you weren’t self-employed for a sufficient period of time in the 2018/19 Financial Year to demonstrate that you derived 50% of your income from self-employment

If you think you are eligible and intend to apply, please gather all of the information and supporting evidence outlined in the "What information do I need to provide?" section before you apply. Watch the video for guidance on how to fill out the application form https://youtu.be/FHl28Q5HXcU

Mobile And Home Based Close Contact Services Fund

Eligible applicants will receive a one-off £4,000 payment (£2,000 for the period to end December 2020 and a further £2,000 to cover the period from January 2021 onwards).

Once the fund opens, it will be open to applications for a four-week period.

To be eligible for this grant you must: have been operating your business before 17 March 2020 have lost income as a result of Covid-19 restrictions meet all of the eligibility criteria This fund is for owners and operators of mobile and home-based close contact service businesses and for registered driving instructors. It is not for employees of those businesses.   To be eligible you must own and operate a business that meets the definition of a Close Contact Service Provider in https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2020/344/schedule/5/paragraph/4

Revised model for delivering National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results in 2021

Following the First Minister's announcement yesterday, the National Qualifications Group is sharing revised arrangements for the Alternative Certification Model and the timeline for delivering National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results in session 2020-21. Further information about the Appeals service for 2021 will be available following consultation.

The final date for submitting provisional results has been extended to Friday 25 June 2021.

The revised alternative certification model is based on five key stages:

  • Stage 1: ongoing until April 2021 - Teachers and lecturers access subject specific guidance, assessment resources and Understanding Standards materials and webinars from SQA.
  • Stage 2: April - May 2021 - School, college, training provider and local authority quality assurance continues. During May, SQA requests, reviews and provides feedback on assessment evidence from each school, college and training provider.
  • Stage 3: end May to 25 June 2021 - Schools, colleges, training providers, local authorities and SQA work through final stages of local and national quality assurance and feedback, to reach provisional results that are consistent, equitable and fair.
  • Stage 4: by 25 June 2021 - Schools, colleges and training providers submit quality assured provisional results to SQA.
  • Stage 5: Appeals process for 2020-21 - to be advised following consultation.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Monday 15 February 2021

Inverclyde care homes to begin second doses of vaccine

From today, Monday 15 February 2021, the delivery of second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to care homes in Inverclyde will begin. This means that both residents and care home staff, who received their first dose of vaccine within the care home setting between 17 December 2020 and 21 January 2021, will now receive their second dose.

Care home staff will be contacted and allocated a day to attend to receive their second dose. 


Vaccination Programme Update

The Covid-19 vaccination centres at Greenock Town Hall and Port Glasgow Town Hall will be operating reduced opening times from today (Monday 15 February 2020).

This is to allow for the rollout of second doses of the vaccine in care homes and a temporary reduction in stocks of the vaccine.

As has been the case since the start of the covid vaccination programme, people should not turn up at any of the vaccination centres without an appointment. They will be contacted directly by the NHS when it is their turn to get a jab. For more information about the Covid-19 vaccination programme visit www.nhsinform.scot or call the national vaccine helpline 0800 030 8013.

The statement below has been issued by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde about the vaccination programme:

NHSGGC has vaccinated over 250,000 people since the start of December, including frontline health and social care workers, people aged 65 and older, individuals who are clinically extremely vulnerable and elderly care home residents.  These priority groups have all been vaccinated in line with national targets.

To date, we have been in a position to move at pace due to the availability of the vaccine, meaning that we will also meet the target of offering a first vaccination to most people over the age of 65 by mid-February. People who have been unable to attend their GP or a community clinic are still being contacted.

As the First Minister has now confirmed, supplies of the vaccine have been affected by a "temporary reduction" in Pfizer's manufacturing capacity, with Scotland having received slightly lower stocks of the vaccine than expected.

We are adjusting our programme in line with this. From next week, we will be starting to administer each older adult care home resident with their second dose of the vaccine.  We will prioritise administering the second dose to our staff. We will also continue to run vaccination clinics but with reduced appointments and our vaccination clinics will run over fewer days.

Once the supply of the vaccine increases, we are in a strong position to rapidly accelerate the programme once again.

We understand the anxiety that may be caused by a slowing of the vaccination programme and we are sorry for this.  We would like to reassure members of the public that we will be able to increase vaccination appointments as soon as stocks are received.

There are a small number of patients who have been unable to attend this week due to adverse weather conditions and arrangements are in hand to reschedule these patients, and to finalise arrangements for the appointments schedule going forward.

Test and Protect Self-Isolation Campaign

With the new strains of coronavirus being more infectious, it’s more important than ever that people self-isolate immediately to stop the virus spreading. The Self-Isolation campaign will be running on TV, video-on-demand (VOD), digital, social and radio from the 12 February – 14 March 2021. The Self-Isolation campaign reinforces the importance of isolating right away to help stop the spread, and also signposts to the National Assistance Helpline for a support in self-isolation for those who need may need financial or practical assistance.

A Self-Isolation Fact Sheet is available which outlines the key self-isolation information with signposting to help available. This is available in multiple formats and languages and can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-self-isolation-factsheet/

Protect Scotland app - update

iPhone 5S and 6 users can now download the free Protect Scotland app.  Previously the app wasn’t available on older phones however in order to encourage wider usage it has now been developed to include the IPhone 5S and 6.  Download now from App Store, Google Play or at Protect.scot.

The more of us that use it the better it will work. http://protect.scot

New cycle lane to aid social-distancing

Work has started on a new dedicated cycle lane along a busy Greenock route as part of a near £600,000 package of improvements to encourage active travel. The bike trail will run from Container Way in the town centre along to Battery Park.

Inverclyde Council started work last Monday (8 February) and it will be carried out in phases until April, with traffic management in place throughout. The cycle lane is one of the first projects being delivered by the local authority after it successfully bid for £585k of funding from the national ‘Spaces for People’ initiative, which is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered through charity Sustrans Scotland.

The ‘Spaces for People’ scheme is aimed at improving walking and cycling infrastructure to assist with physical distancing in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Other local projects are being developed by the council taking into account feedback provided by residents during its ‘Safe Streets Save Lives’ consultation last year.

Additional funding for freelancers and events sector

A further £17.5 million of emergency coronavirus (Covid-19) funding has been allocated to support creative freelancers and the events sector, the Scottish Government has announced. Of that, £8.5m will go towards the events sector – distributed through the Pivotal Event Businesses Fund and the Events Industry Support Fund 2 as well as targeted support – bringing the total additional Covid-19 support for the events sector to £31.5m.

The remaining £9m will be distributed as a top-up to the Creative Freelancers Hardship Fund bringing the total value of support for creative freelancers to £17m. This support is in addition to the more than £125m of additional funding the Scottish Government has so far allocated to culture, historic environment and events since the start of the pandemic.

Quarantine hotels open for arrivals in Scotland

All arrivals to Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area must book and pay for managed isolation in quarantine hotels to help protect against the importation of Coronavirus (COVID-19) from today (Monday 15 February).

Six hotels close to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports with a combined capacity of 1,300 rooms will be used to implement the quarantine at a cost of £1,750 per individual traveller. Final costs for those not travelling alone are currently being worked through, as well as the details for a Managed Isolation Welfare Fund which will be launched for those who cannot afford the charge. 

All arrivals must quarantine for at least ten days and will be tested twice for the virus – once on day two and once on day eight after arrival. Existing travel exemptions will be strengthened, including limiting overseas training for elite sportspeople to athletes and coaches preparing for the Olympics and Paralympics.

A small number of arrivals will not be required to isolate, such as those involved in essential supply chains for goods coming into Scotland. More information is available at: https://www.gov.scot/news/quarantine-hotels/.

Join the local children’s panel – deadline today

Today (Monday 15 February 2021) is the last opportunity to apply to join the Children’s Panel.  The current recruitment campaign closes today at midnight with online applications continuing to be accepted until then.  Visit the Children’s Hearings Scotland website at: https://www.chscotland.gov.uk/volunteering-with-us/panel-members/ and click the ‘apply now’ button.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 9 February 2021

Inverclyde vaccine capacity increased

Covid venue vaccine graphic

Inverclyde’s vaccine capacity is on course to increase to up to 1,000 people per day as the second COVID-19 vaccination centre opened this week in Port Glasgow. 

Port Glasgow Town Hall and Greenock Town Hall are now open and operational by NHS staff to administer doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

People should not turn up at any of the vaccination centres without an appointment. They will be contacted directly by the NHS when it is their turn to get a jab. For more information about the Covid-19 vaccination programme visit www.nhsinform.scot or call the national vaccine helpline 0800 030 8013.

Coronavirus vaccine - frequently asked questions

The council and HSCP coronavirus pages on the council website includes frequently asked questions about the vaccination programme.

The pages includes updates on who will be offered the vaccine first, the safety of the vaccines, how the vaccine works, how the vaccine is given, who should not get the vaccine, and common side effects.

Visit the council website’s coronavirus pages or NHS Inform or call 0800 030 8013 (available 8am–8pm, 7 days a week) to find out more about the vaccine.

 

Asymptomatic testing in schools and early learning centres

A new testing programme is starting in schools and early learning centres across Inverclyde for people without the symptoms of coronavirus as part of the package of coronavirus risk reduction mitigations in education settings.

Its aim is to contribute to the reduction of coronavirus-related risks in schools by helping to identify asymptomatic individuals in school environments at the earliest possible opportunity and asking them and their close contacts to self-isolate to minimise the likelihood of them passing on the virus.

Testing kits are currently being delivered to schools for use by staff and pupils who are attending school.

The programme is initially available to:

  • all primary, secondary and special school staff in local authority, independent and grant-aided schools;
  • all early learning centre (ELC) and childcare staff based in local authority, independent and grant-aided schools; and
  • all senior phase pupils in local authority, independent and grant-aided secondary and special schools.

Secondary schools will write to pupils in the senior phase during week beginning 15 February outlining arrangements for asymptomatic testing if required.

School staff include teachers, classroom-based support staff, administrative staff, facilities management staff (cleaners, janitors, etc.), school transport staff and other school-based staff who are critical to the effective delivery of school education including staff from other services who visit schools regularly including ICT and property staff.

The asymptomatic testing programme does not replace the current testing policy for those with symptoms. School staff and pupils who experience symptoms of coronavirus must continue to self-isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.

 

Visitor Attractions Support Fund

The Visitor Attractions Support Fund opens this week to provide financial support to Scottish businesses in the attractions sector that have been severely affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to help keep them in business while restrictions on opening and travel are still in place, and to support them to prepare for reopening in 2021 when restrictions are lifted.

The £10 million fund is being delivered by VisitScotland on behalf of Scottish Government and has been developed with input from the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA). Businesses which meet all the eligibility criteria are invited to submit an application form from 12pm on Thursday 11 February 2021 until 5pm on Thursday 18 February 2021.

More information on the fund is available from Visit Scotland including links to the and guidance documents: https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/visitor-attraction-support-fund/guidance-documents. 

 

New guide for people recovering from COVID-19

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy teams have created a new online resource to help anyone who is recovering from the COVID-19 virus.

The new self-management resource is aimed at anyone managing the many types of symptoms associated with COVID-19. It also notes the pace of recovery may be slower than expected.

Common symptoms can include: fatigue, breathlessness, reduced exercise tolerance and lack of physical strength. The resource offers advice on recovering from the virus, managing breathlessness, general wellbeing, managing fatigue, exercise programmes and more.

The online resource is available at the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde website at: https://www.nhsggc.org.uk/your-health/health-services/allied-health-professionals-ahps/physiotherapy/

 

Terrorism threat level lowered to Substantial

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) has lowered the threat level to Substantial – meaning an attack is likely.

The decision to lower the assessment from Severe – meaning an attack is highly likely – was announced by the Home Secretary on Monday 8 February 2021, and comes after the significant reduction in the momentum of attacks in Europe since those seen between September and November 2020.

Counter Terrorism Policing continue to urge the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the police.

 

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 19 January 2021

No change to lockdown

The current lockdown measures will stay in place across mainland Scotland and some island communities until at least the middle of February, the First Minister confirmed today. Schools across Scotland will also continue to use remote learning until at least the middle of February except in the case of vulnerable children and those of key workers.  The announcement of the review of restrictions is available to read in full at the Scottish Government website at: https://www.gov.scot/news/review-of-restrictions/ and the national stay at home guidance has also been updated to reflect the latest review.

Support for taxi and private hire drivers

The Scottish Government has announced that a new fund to support taxi and private hire drivers affected by the pandemic will launch this week. Councils across Scotland, and here in Inverclyde, will directly approach private hire and taxi drivers inviting them to claim a £1,500 grant to assist with fixed costs. Councils will start contacting eligible drivers this week to brief them on their potential entitlement and ask them to provide supporting information and bank account details. Private hire and taxi drivers do not need to apply or contact the council.

Read the full statement on the Scottish Government website which includes more details and full eligibility criteria available here: https://www.gov.scot/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-funds/ and the update to criteria announced today.

Elderly care home vaccinations complete across Greater Glasgow and Clyde

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board has announced that all eligible care home residents across the health board area, including Inverclyde, have now been offered their first vaccination to protect them against COVID-19.

6,019 residents in 143 care homes for the elderly have received the vaccination so far. This represents over 90% of all elderly care home residents within Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and East Dunbartonshire. A small number of residents were unable to be vaccinated initially, due to issues such as ill health. When those clinical circumstances have improved, teams will administer more vaccinations to both residents and care home staff.

Read the full statement at the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde website.

Travel corridors suspended

From 4am yesterday (Monday 18 January 2021) all country exemptions from self-isolation after international travel are suspended.

Passengers travelling to Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) will be required to isolate for ten days on return. They must also have a valid negative COVID-19 test result, taken no more than three days before the scheduled time of departure.

Most people from outside the CTA who meet the limited criteria to travel to Scotland will still require to undertake pre-departure tests and must have a valid negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than three days before the scheduled time of departure.  This will be checked by operators, and passengers with a positive test result or an invalid certificate will be refused boarding.

It remains the case that travel to or from Scotland without a reasonable excuse is not permitted. Limited exemptions for essential purposes will be maintained, but the list of sectoral exemptions to the restrictions will be tightened.

Further information about the foreign travel public health rules, pre-departure testing including quarantine requirements, can be read on the Scottish Government website. This includes the existing list of overseas destinations where those arriving in Scotland are exempt from self-isolation.

Children’s hearing’s campaign launched

A recruitment campaign to encourage more people across Scotland, and here in Inverclyde, to become members of the children’s hearings has launched.  Panel Members take part in children's hearings. Their role is to listen and make legal decisions with and for infants, children and young people. They are there to ensure that the young person is at the heart of every decision taken – because every decision, no matter how big or small, has a huge impact.

Find out more about how to apply at the Children’s Hearings Scotland website.

Inverclyde school features on STV

St Columba’s High School in Gourock featured on STV’s flagship Scotland Tonight programme.  The feature included interviews and video diaries talking about home learning during the current national lockdown.  The programme will be available for a short time on the STV player at: https://player.stv.tv/summary/scotland-tonight

If your service is supporting the community to keep and stay safe during the current lockdown, contact corporate communications at: media@inverclyde.gov.uk

Film and television guidance

Guidance on the safe re-opening of film and TV production during the coronavirus pandemic has been updated to reflect the current quarantine arrangements.  The detailed Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on film and TV production is available to view on the Scottish Government website.

Guidance on offering support to tackle covid-19
The Scottish Government has published a list of useful contacts and web links to help prioritise offers to help tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency including businesses, volunteers and vaccinators.

The list is published and updated at the Scottish Government website: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-coordinating-offers-of-help-from-businesses/

Coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic testing
Offers to help with coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic testing should be sent to nss.covid-19assaydevelop@nhs.net.

Vaccination programme

For individuals who want to offer support as vaccinators - Health Boards are advertising for roles that they have available on the NHS jobs website.

For individuals who are considering the vaccinator role - More information is on NHS Scotland's covid vaccine learning page.

Non-vaccinator offers of support

For all other offers of support such as premises or logistics, email: offersofsupport.vaccine@gov.scot

An automated response is generated from this e-mail address, your offer of support will be logged and shared with the appropriate health board who will be in contact if your offer of support is required.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Scottish Government no longer needs offers of PPE.  You may be able to make donations within your local communities by contacting organisations and charities directly.

The usual public procurement processes for PPE are available for NHS Scotland, Social care and other frontline services. If you wish to supply public bodies, you can find out about procurement processes here:

  • Supplier Journey
  • Public Contracts Scotland

All PPE for NHS Scotland, Social Care or other public sector services, must meet the NHS PPE standards which you can read on GOV.UK.

Health innovation 

If you have new and innovative products or solutions for NHS Scotland, which do not currently exist, you can share them through the Health Innovation Assessment Portal (HIAP Scotland).  

Get help, share your ideas or volunteer

If you’re a member of the public who needs help or has an idea they would like to share, email cpe@gov.scot. Find out how you can volunteer on Volunteer Scotland.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 12 January 2021

Covid placing real strain on council budgets says COSLA

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has issued the following statement calling for a fair funding settlement for Scottish councils:

Communities across Scotland will face unavoidable and damaging consequences if Local Government does not receive a fair funding settlement in this year’s Budget, COSLA warned today (Tuesday).

COSLA said that the trend of recent settlements for Local Government needs to change because on top of existing pressures, the COVID pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on the finances of Scotland’s Councils this year.

The organisation has produced a comprehensive 14-page briefing document, ‘Respect Our Communities: Protect Our Funding’ (attached above), which covers three areas:

  • the costs of COVID-19 to Local Government and the need for these to be met,
  • flexibility on how the budget allocated to Councils is spent and
  • an increased budget allocation to address the reduction in funding to Councils over recent settlements.

Speaking as she launched the document today, COSLA Resources Spokesperson, Councillor Gail Macgregor, said: “This year, across every community in Scotland, Local Government’s essential role has been magnified and once again we have delivered for our communities.

“Nobody in Scotland has been unaffected by this pandemic and the financial impacts of COVID-19 are severe. Individuals, families and businesses have all felt the effects and continue to look to Councils for support every day. 

“Sustaining this lifeline support is placing extreme pressure on already strained budgets and without fair funding for Local Government this year, the consequences for the most vulnerable in our communities would be unacceptable.

“That is why we need fair funding for 2021/22 that respects our communities. Without this, there will be further cuts to services, reductions in spending locally, increases in the inequalities exposed by the pandemic and a much slower recovery.”

Echoing these concerns, COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison, said:  “Local Government’s role on behalf of our communities cannot be underestimated anymore. The COVID pandemic has shown exactly how much the public rely on us as leaders and as providers of vital services.

“The reality is that in recent budgets, the Scottish Government has chosen not to provide enough funding for the essential services that communities rely on day in day out.

“On top of this, this year we have had to contend with COVID-19 which has seen the inequality in our society grow.

“Our ability to recover from this and continue to deliver for Scotland’s communities depends on a change of emphasis from Scottish Government that provides fair funding for Council services.

“If we are to truly recover from this pandemic then Local Authorities must receive a fair settlement.”

Library services update

Library services in Inverclyde have changed due to the tighter coronavirus restrictions. The ‘connect and collect’ service offering is being temporarily suspended with customers being urged to take advantage of ‘books on wheels’ deliveries instead to avoid people leaving their household to assist with the national stay at home rules.

While libraries remain closed due to the current lockdown, there also resources online, including e-books and audio books via the ‘borrow box’ scheme. Materials can still be delivered to children, young people and families who need them.

Extending support for hospitality, retail and leisure

The Scottish Government has announced a top-up to the grant support available for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across Scotland closed by level four restrictions.

In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of:

  •        £25,000 for larger hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  •        £6,000 for smaller hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000
  •        £9,000 for larger retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  •        £6,000 for smaller retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000

The full details will be available on the council’s coronavirus pages on the council website when published by the Scottish Government.

United Arab Emirates designated for public health quarantine

Following the move to require travellers from Dubai to quarantine on arrival, Ministers have agreed on the basis of advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre to remove the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in its entirety from the international travel exemptions list. Travellers returning from the UAE must quarantine on arrival in Scotland for 10 days from 4am today (Tuesday 12 January 2020).

This change is preventative action and addresses the significant rise in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), and the increase in the numbers of cases testing positive in Scotland. Guidance remains clear that people should not be undertaking foreign travel other than in exceptional circumstances.

The Scottish Government has also announced pre-departure coronavirus testing. From 4am on Friday 15 January 2021, passengers travelling to Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area must have a valid negative COVID-19 test result, taken no more than three days before the scheduled time of departure.  This will be checked by operators, and passengers with a positive test result or an invalid certificate will be refused boarding. More details at: https://www.gov.scot/news/pre-departure-coronavirus-testing-update/

Food businesses insist takeaway should remain

Ten representative organisations from across Scotland’s Food and Drink industry have written a joint letter to the Scottish Government’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing MSP, to request that food and drink takeaway services be permitted to continue. It comes after the First Minister said on Thursday that click and collect, food-to-go takeaway, and the construction and manufacturing sectors were in the frame for being compelled to close under Covid restrictions.

The full text of the letter can be found at: https://brc.org.uk/news/2020/scottish-food-businesses-insist-takeaway-should-remain-permitted/

Reports Morrisons and Sainsbury could refuse non mask wearers

The BBC is reporting that supermarkets Morrisons and Sainsbury could refuse entry to people not wearing a mask, except those  who are medically exempt.

The article quotes Morrisons' chief executive David Potts: "Those who are offered a face covering and decline to wear one won't be allowed to shop at Morrisons unless they are medically exempt. "Our store colleagues are working hard to feed you and your family, please be kind."

FSB: Scottish business optimism plunged pre-lockdown

Scottish business confidence crashed in the final days of 2020, according to research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The small business campaign group says that their findings underline the need for governments in Edinburgh and London to provide sufficient second-wave coronavirus support to independent and local firms, as well as people who work for themselves.

FSB’s UK-wide small business confidence index fell to -49.3 points at the end of 2020, the second lowest ever recorded by the research series. However, the average Scottish firm is even less confident about prospects, according to FSB, with the equivalent Scottish figure plunging to -69.0 points from -26.3 points in the autumn. The metric measures whether businesses believe trading conditions are going to improve or deteriorate.

Read the full statement and research at: https://www.fsb.org.uk/resources-page/scottish-business-optimism-plunged-pre-lockdown.html

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Wednesday 13 January 2020

Stronger lockdown restrictions

The Scottish Government has announced further measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and limit non-essential contact will be introduced this weekend.

Nobody who lives in a Level four area should leave or remain outside their home except for essential purposes. Working from home arrangements will be strengthened through updated statutory guidance. Working from home should now be the default position for all businesses and services, and only those who cannot do their job from home should be asked to go to the workplace.

From Saturday non-essential click and collect retail services will be prohibited in Level 4 areas and further changes will be put in place to how services open for essential purposes operate. Timeslots will be required for collection and people should not enter a store to collect an item.  Businesses providing takeaway food will also operate on a ‘non-entry’ basis only, meaning customers cannot enter the premises when placing or collecting orders.

Restrictions banning the consumption of alcohol in public places will also be introduced.

Click and collect services offered by essential retailers can continue but will be suspended across retail other than for:

  • clothing and footwear stores
  • homeware stores
  • garden centres/plant nurseries
  • baby equipment shops
  • electrical goods (including repairs)
  • key cutting and shoe repair shops
  • bookstores

Read the latest announcement at the Scottish Government website at: https://www.gov.scot/news/strengthening-lockdown-restrictions/  which includes updated guidance on working from home and stay at home guidance.

£10m digital boost for business launched and now closed to new applicants

Scottish business gateway services have announced a new DigitalBoost £10 million grant scheme to help Scottish businesses rebuild.  After one day the service has been closed to further applications after demand outstripped the budget available.

The new DigitalBoost Development Grant is being run by Business Gateway and funded by The Scottish Government and will help businesses upskill and invest in their digital capabilities as they work to overcome the challenges they face now and build for Scotland’s economic recovery.  VAT registered businesses will be able to access up to £25,000 while non-VAT registered business can benefit from up to £5,000 of funding.

DigitalBoost provides webinars, a free healthcheck, 1:1 support from a digital expert, online tutorials, and practical guides on topics including social media, cyber resilience, data analytics, digital marketing strategy and e-commerce.

For more information on the DigitalBoost Development Grant visit www.digitalboostdevelopmentgrant.co.uk 

Pivotal Event Businesses Fund re-opens

Visit Scotland has re-opened the £6 million Pivotal Event Businesses Fund to support those event businesses which are critical to Scotland’s events sector. Those businesses that met the eligibility criteria were asked to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) form by 22 December at 5pm.  A small number of businesses were unable to complete the EOI, due to the initial deadline being so close to the festive period. In light of industry feedback and current COVID-19 situation, Visit Scotland has re-opened the EOI stage, from 12pm on Wednesday 13 January 2021 to 5pm on Monday 18 January 2021.

For more information and details on how to submit an EOI, please visit Scotland’s Pivotal Event Business Fund page on Visit Scotland’s website at: https://www.visitscotland.org/events/funding/pivotal-event-businesses-fund

Shielding social care workers support scheme

The Scottish Government has announced a payment scheme for shielding social care workers who were not placed onto the Job Retention (furlough) Scheme. Social care workers may be eligible to apply for a lump sum back payment if they:

  • were not able to work between March and October 2020 because they were shielding - AND
  • were not placed onto the Job Retention (furlough) Scheme

The scheme is open to applications until 24 February 2021. Applications should be made by employers. Read the announcement on the Scottish Government website and further information and how to apply through the Inspiring Scotland website.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Monday 11 January 2021

New court arrangements from tomorrow

As a result of the increasing spread of the new variant of COVID-19 across Scotland, the Lord President has announced that during the lockdown period the criminal courts will focus on the most serious trials and the majority of summary trials in the Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court will be adjourned.  This will reduce the overall number of criminal trials taking place during lockdown by up to 75%.

The full announcement on new court arrangements from Tuesday 12 January 2021 can be read at the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website which includes information for witnesses and jurors, wearing of face coverings and client consultation.  The website also includes links to Guidance for Supreme Courts Users and Guidance for Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court Users.

Microsoft Teams issue

Microsoft has announced issues with Microsoft Teams today and provided an update to BBC Scotland News that "Our engineers are working to resolve difficulties accessing Microsoft Teams that some customers are experiencing.".  Microsoft Teams is one of the main platforms used by pupils through the GLOW system managed by Education Scotland for online learning.

Vaccinations update from HSCP

Vaccination of Inverclyde care home staff begins tomorrow (12 January 2021). Vaccines for over 80s continue to be delivered to GP practices since the start last Thursday.  The NHS Inform website includes useful information on the vaccine including who will be offered the coronavirus vaccine.  The Scottish Government has also published  vaccine guidance at their website.

Council committees during lockdown

Changes to Inverclyde Council’s committee and board meetings have been approved in light of the tighter national lockdown restrictions.  At a special meeting of the policy and resources committee on Thursday (7 January 2021), it was decided that the current cycle of committees and boards will continue but with expedited business only with the position to be reviewed at the next Inverclyde Council meeting on 18 February 2021.

Meetings will continue as normal for those committees and boards where finalised calling notices and agendas have already been issued and published on the council website. These are: Audit Committee (12 January 2021) and the Environment & Regeneration Committee (14 January 2021).

The changes are designed to help the council and its officers in dealing with the response to the pandemic, including maintaining essential services and supporting the local community.

It was also decided that relevant officers will be delegated to take and implement critical decisions where necessary and that funding will be made available to assist with this should it be required. An operational log will be kept and provided to elected members for scrutiny of decision-making at the relevant service committee.

Ferguson Marine – covid update

Ferguson Marine of Port Glasgow has, over the weekend, issued two statements about covid:

COVID-19 Production Suspension (Posted: 10 Jan 2021)

COVID infection rates in Inverclyde have increased and the area now has one of the highest seven-day rates of cases per 100k people in Scotland.  Given this position, plus concerns about the new variant of the virus, we have decided to suspend production at Ferguson Marine for one week to allow a comprehensive review of COVID measures, to ensure that the working environment at the yard continues to be as safe as possible.

Throughout the pandemic, Ferguson has complied with both the letter and spirit of Government guidance and has worked closely with Trades Union representatives to implement PPE and social distancing policies which protect workers.  These include sanitising points, one-way systems, staggered shift and break times, additional break facilities, extensive use of screens, provision of anti-viral face coverings, toolbox talks to reinforce social distancing, and other measures. Together these measures have been effective, with only a single recorded case of in-yard transmission.  As a result of the rapidly changing circumstances, it is however appropriate to review the measures currently in place, take stock of our learning since the restart of on-site work at the yard in June, and identify whether there are any additional ways to protect workers.

Production workers at both the Port Glasgow yard and Greenock warehouse will not be required to come to work this week and will be placed on special leave at full basic pay.  Management and supervisors should come to work to support the review and any changes required.  Most office-based employees are already working at home, but those who have been at the yard to support production should go to work as normal on Monday and where possible will be provided the resources to work from home for the rest of the week.

Production work will resume on Monday 18th January with briefings to advise employees of any changes to our COVID measures and to reinforce the need for personal responsibility in social distancing.

 

COVID Update (Posted 09 Jan 2021)

Ferguson has always complied with Scottish Government guidelines on Covid-19 and has worked closely with trades unions to make sure there are robust measures in place.  The Scottish Government has made it clear that manufacturing can continue to operate during lockdown and it is permissible to leave home to go to work if you cannot work from home.

Our pipe-fitting subcontractor, HB Hydraulics, which operates a subcontractor office on-site at the shipyard, has recruited additional workers to handle the growing volume of its work on the dual fuel ferries.  Without our prior knowledge or agreement, a group of their workers arrived at the shipyard to collect accommodation details.  During the collection, the workers failed to observe Covid-19 safety requirements.

We are extremely disappointed at HB Hydraulics’ failure in this matter and have firmly reminded them of their responsibility to Covid-19 guidelines.  We have insisted the workers self-isolate and they will not start work at the shipyard until we are absolutely satisfied all individuals are Covid-free.  We understand that although of East European origin, the individuals have settled status in the UK, however, as a matter of due diligence, we have requested details of right to work in the UK.

Dubai designated for public health quarantine

The Scottish Government has announced that travellers returning from Dubai must quarantine on arrival in Scotland for 10 days from 4am today (Monday 11 January 2021). In addition, passengers who have travelled to Scotland from Dubai since 3 January 2021 are also being asked to isolate for 10 days, from the date they arrived back in the country.

The change is due to a number of positive cases identified in passengers who have flown into Glasgow from Dubai since the new year. This preventative action addresses the significant rise in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), and the increase in the numbers of cases testing positive in Scotland.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Friday 8 January 2021

Care home resident vaccinations complete

The first dose of the coronavirus vaccine has now been given to residents in each of Inverclyde’s 14 care homes.

Kincaid House resident and former nurse Aileen Hunter was one of the first to receive her jab last month. Plans are in place to deliver the jab to a small number of residents who were not able to get the vaccine in their care home. Arrangements are also being made to vaccinate residents who are housebound. 

The first people in the over 80 age group received their vaccination today (Friday 8 January). Further rollout to this age group will continue next week and people will be contacted directly by their GP practice or the health board.

The council/HSCP is in liaison with the health board regarding the wider rollout of the vaccination programme, which is dependent on vaccine supply from manufacturers, and further information will be provided in due course. The Scottish Government announced yesterday (Thursday 7 January) that almost 114,000 people across the country have now been given the first dose of the vaccine.

More information about the Covid-19 vaccine and vaccination programme can be found at www.nhsinform.scot or by calling the national Coronavirus Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (available 8am-8pm seven days a week).

 

Changes to P1 registrations

From Monday (11 January) parents will be able to register their children to start school in August online only due to the current lockdown restrictions.

Registration will run until Friday 15 January and forms, which are short and easy to complete, will be available from 9am on Monday at www.inverclyde.gov.uk/primary-registration. 

P1 registration 2021

Forms and more information about starting school, as well as deferred entry, are available at www.inverclyde.gov.uk/primary-registration.

Applications will not be accepted before Monday 11 January.

Parents will be notified by 30 April 2021 confirming their child’s place in school and information regarding induction days will follow from the school after this date.

For additional help and information, parents should contact their child’s early years establishment.

 

Covid helpline now open 7 days

A helpline for Inverclyde residents to access assistance and support during the pandemic is now open seven days a week following increased Covid-19 restrictions.

It is designed to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for local people to access provisions, support and advice by calling 01475 715275.

Covid helpline seven days

Starting this weekend, the helpline is now open seven days between 9am-5pm Monday-Friday and from 9am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

If the lines are busy or if someone contacts the helpline out of hours, people can leave their contact details on the answering machine, which is monitored regularly, and they will be called back as soon as possible.

The helpline has been up and running since the start of the pandemic last year and has already supported almost 6,500 Inverclyde residents with access to everything from food and medicine to health and wellbeing advice.

Following a return to lockdown restrictions, demand has increased with nearly 400 calls this week alone.

The service, run by Inverclyde Council in partnership with third sector agency CVS Inverclyde.

 

Learning at home resources

The BBC has launched a new ‘Lockdown Learning’ service to support young people and their families with learning at home when education resumes remotely on Monday (11 January).

Content will be available online and on TV catering for pupils of all ages, including primary and secondary. Still Game actor Sanjeev Kohli, who has just featured in the Inverclyde festive film, is among a number of famous faces lending a hand. He will deliver a special maths lesson while Judy Murray, mum of tennis stars Andy and Jamie, will be helping with PE. Fitness guru Joe Wicks, who earned acclaim during the first lockdown for his ‘PE with Joe’ live YouTube classes, is resuming his classes, starting on Monday. They will be live at 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on his ‘The Body Coach TV’ channel. 

For more about the BBC Lockdown Learning in Scotland, visit https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0934ly5.

 

Funeral arrangements and attendance

Families and friends who have lost loved ones during this difficult time are respectfully asked to continue to adhere to all restrictions that are currently in place for funeral services.

This includes:

  • No more than 20 people at any service or graveside ceremony
  • All attendees should wear a face covering and adhere to the 2 metre distance guidance
  • Post-funeral gatherings such as wakes and funeral teas are not permitted
  • You are allowed to travel within Scotland to go to a funeral service. You can also travel to and from other parts of the UK to go to a funeral service.

For more information visit:  https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-funeral-services/pages/overview/.

 

College and university returns postponed

The Scottish Government has today (Friday 8 January) announced that colleges and universities will remain closed until further notice with students to be taught online throughout January and February in light of the tighter lockdown restrictions.

Only very small numbers of students will be allowed back on campus this month, for example, those:

  • who have remained over the winter break
  • whose attendance is critical and whose education cannot be delivered remotely or postponed, essential placements,  or for reasons of student well-being

Full details of the announcement are available here: https://www.gov.scot/news/colleges-and-university-returns-postponed/.

 

Covid test for arrivals in Scotland

New public health requirements announced today (Friday 8 January) means passengers travelling to Scotland from abroad will be required to have proof of a negative test taken a maximum of 72 hours before travel.

The requirement, to be introduced as soon as practically possible, aims to strengthen current safeguards against imported Covid-19 cases and in particular protect against new strains of the virus such as those identified in Denmark and South Africa.

Further information can be found at https://www.gov.scot/news/pre-departure-coronavirus-testing/. 

 

Foreign travel updates

The government has updated its foreign travel advice. Travellers arriving in Scotland from Israel and Jerusalem must now quarantine on arrival for 10 days. Botswana, Mauritius and Seychelles are also being removed from the list of destinations exempt from quarantine on arrival in Scotland in light of the spread of the South African variant. Travel from those countries, as well as Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe will become subject to the additional measures in place for South Africa, including a travel ban for arrivals other than British nationals and those with a right to reside in the UK, enforced by the UK Government using reserved immigration powers. 

All of these changes take effect from 0400 on Saturday 9 January. For more information, visit https://www.gov.scot/news/foreign-travel-health-rules-updated-1/.

 

Eviction ban extended

A temporary ban on eviction orders will be extended until the end of March, designed to provide renters with safe homes during the pandemic. Full details can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/news/eviction-ban-extended/.

 

 

Coronaviurs (Covid-19) briefing - Wednesday 6 January 2021

Helpline for provisions, support and advice

Covid helpline graphic

Help is still available for assistance and support for anyone who is struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With people being once again asked to stay at home, ‘shield’ and self-isolate if they develop covid symptoms, a helpline run by Inverclyde Council and CVS Inverclyde remains open with staff on hand to offer advice and support. 

The helpline is available Monday to Thursday from 9am-5pm and from 9am-4pm on Friday.

Please call 01475 715275.

Covid vaccine update

Coronavirus vaccinations are expected to start being delivered to over-80s in Inverclyde from next week.

Inverclyde HSCP is working in partnership with the health service and local GP practices to coordinate the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

Delivery of the covid jab is dependent on supply of the vaccine from manufacturers.

Patients will be contacted by their GP practice as and when the vaccine supply becomes available and will be advised about where to go for their jab.

Housebound patients will be contacted by their District Nurse or the HSCP to have the vaccine delivered at home.

The council/HSCP is in liaison with the health board regarding the wider rollout of the vaccination programme and further information will be provided in due course.

More information about the Covid-19 vaccine and vaccination programme can be found at www.nhsinform.scot or by calling the national Coronavirus Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (available 8am-8pm seven days a week).

Flu jab latest

Anyone aged 60+ or in an ‘at risk’ category who has not received a winter flu jab should contact their own GP practice as soon as possible.

To find out who is eligible for a flu vaccine and for more information about the vaccination programme, visit www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/flu-is-serious.

Film and TV production guidance

Fresh advice for the film and TV sector has been issued by the Scottish Government following the introduction of tighter lockdown coronavirus restrictions.

It says that film and TV production can continue operating at all levels and under these further restrictions, but should be done with the minimum number of people needed to operate safely and effectively and in compliance with all relevant Scottish Government and industry safe working guidance.

The full guidance is available on the government website at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-film-and-high-end-tv-production/. 

Jobcentre lockdown guidance

The UK Government has announced arrangements for Jobcentres and associated services during the current lockdown.

The guidance below applies to Scotland, England and Wales. Further details can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jobcentre-guidance-on-new-national-covid-restrictions-1. 

From 5 January 2021 until further notice, the following updated jobcentre guidance will apply to customers in England, and will ensure essential support is provided whilst keeping colleagues and customers safe.

  • Jobcentres will remain open, as they have throughout this pandemic, to provide essential services and support to those who we cannot help in any other way.

  • We will ensure that this support continues to be delivered in line with the latest government and PHE guidance – such as maintaining social distancing and rigorous cleaning regimes - keeping our colleagues and customers safe.

  • Work Coaches will be empowered to support customers through the best and most appropriate channels - whether online, by phone, or in person - with jobcentres remaining open to help those who need extra support and are unable to interact with us on the phone or digitally.

  • Our Work Coaches will continue to deliver employment support programmes such as the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETs) scheme, by phone or through online channels.

  • Face-to-face assessments for disability benefits remain suspended.

  • If you think you might be entitled to a health and disability benefit, you should contact us as soon as possible to make a claim in the usual way.

  • For existing customers, payments will continue as normal. Anyone who has a change in their needs should contact us immediately so we can ensure they are receiving the correct level of support.

On 3 November 2020, we also confirmed that the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor for self-employed customers claiming Universal Credit in England, Scotland, and Wales has been extended to the end of April 2021. This means that self-employed customers on Universal Credit will receive a payment that reflects their earnings at this difficult time.

For Scotland:

On 4 January 2021, the Scottish Government announced they are moving to level five - the highest of their COVID tiered system. The jobcentre guidance in place for England above will therefore also apply to jobcentres and customers in Scotland.

 

Coronaviurs (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 5 January 2021

Lockdown visual
#stayathome

Stay at home guidance
The Scottish Government has published stay at home guidance as a new national temporary lockdown starts today (Tuesday 5 January 2021) across mainland Scotland, including Inverclyde.

The guidance is available from the Scottish Government website and includes specific guidance on a range of questions including:

  •        Meeting others indoors in someone's home
  •        Meeting others outdoors and in indoor public spaces
  •        Going into someone else’s home
  •        Extended households
  •        Shared parenting
  •        Hospitality
  •        Accommodation
  •        Travel and transport
  •        Shopping
  •        Tradespeople, home repairs, and working in someone else’s home
  •        Close contact retail services
  •        Stadia and events
  •        Sports and exercise
  •        Leisure and entertainment
  •        Driving lessons
  •        Public buildings
  •        Visitor attractions
  •        Worship
  •        Life events (inc. weddings and funerals)
  •        Childcare
  •        Schools
  •        Colleges and universities
  •        Unregulated children’s activities
  •        Public services
  •        Offices, call centres and other workplaces
  •        Visiting hospitals
  •        Visiting care homes
  •        Shielding
  •        Domestic abuse support
  •        Support services

Council and health and social care partnership services are currently reviewing the guidance around the lockdown to prioritise services across Inverclyde to support the community .

Schools update
Following the announcement of the national lockdown arrangements, schools are reviewing the applications received by parents and carers for key worker childcare and the following letter is being issued to parents:

 

Dear parent,

As you will be aware the First Minister made an announcement on Monday 4th January about the new restrictions to combat COVID 19.  This included the stay at home guidance which came into effect on January 5 2021.

This purpose of this letter is to explain to you the arrangements that will be in place in Inverclyde Council Schools and Early Years establishments.

I had already written to you in December 2020 explaining the arrangements we would have in place for January 2021. These remain unchanged but now extend to the end of January 2021.

You will have received an application for childcare/ in school learning from your establishment.  This provision is for children of key workers and those who are vulnerable.  We ask parents to work with us to ensure that they explore all other alternatives available to them and only send their child to the school or establishment if absolutely necessary.  Schools will be as flexible and as accommodating as possible but please remember that the reason we are limiting the numbers in schools and early years establishments is to curtail the virus. 

Circumstances do change and we ask that you maintain contact with your child’s school/early years establishment if this is the case for you. If you do not agree with the decision made by your child’s school/early years establishment and would like your application to be reconsidered then this will be possible.  

Your child’s school/early years establishment will contact you on 6 January letting you know if your application for childcare / in-school learning has been successful. This letter will also tell you how you can appeal the school or establishment’s decision.

Childcare will be offered on 7 and 8 January.  Remote and in school learning will start on 11 January. 

Your school will be in touch with you on 7 and 8 January 2021 to outline the arrangements for remote learning.  Remote learning takes place in a number of ways:   Engagement through Microsoft Teams, recorded content and activities set by your child’s teacher(s).   We expect all pupils to engage in learning, and their engagement will be monitored by your child’s school.   If you have issues with access to remote learning for any reason then please contact your child’s school directly. 

Those who are entitled to free school meals and a clothing grant will receive funding for the meals directly into bank accounts for the period where remote learning is in place. If this applies to you, we will let you know separately. For those who attend school and are entitled to transport, then transport will still be provided. 

The Education Directorate have a meeting with the chairs of Parent Councils on 11 January 2021.  This will give the Directorate a chance to consider any issues that are arising and to answer any questions.

This is certainly not the start to 2021 that anybody had hoped for and we absolutely appreciate the difficulties that the new guidance will cause for families.   Please be assured that we are doing everything possible to meet the needs of our young people and families whilst still ensuring that everyone is as safe as possible. 

Yours faithfully,

Ruth Binks
Corporate Director Education, Communities and Organisational Development
Inverclyde Council

Shielding update for council employees

Advice was issued before Christmas which indicated that the majority of workplaces can be made safe for employees who are shielding and that you should only stay off your work if your workplace cannot be made covid-safe for you.   Following the First Ministers announcement on yesterday (Monday 4 January 2021) this advice has now changed.

From today (Tuesday 5 January 2021), all employees at the highest clinical risk will now be required to work from home, and if you cannot do so, you should remain at home and follow health advice.  A Chief Medical Officer (CMO) notification will be sent this week to all those in this category.  This will act as a fit note for as long as these additional lockdown measures are in place – initially until the end of January, to be reviewed after two weeks.  

Employees in this category must show this letter to their manager, which serves a similar purpose to a fit note, and is called your ‘shielding notification’.  You do not need a separate fit note from your GP.   For those employees who are living with someone who is shielding – the majority of workplaces can be made safe following a robust risk assessment being undertaken and implemented.  

Organised activities for children
The Scottish Government has updated its guidance on organisaed activities for children taking account of the national temporary lockdown across mainland Scotland, including Inverclyde.  The updated guidance for the safe running of organised activities for children and young people during lockdown is available to view and download at the Scottish Government website.

Haulier advice site locations
At the Department for Transport’s haulier advice sites HGV drivers can:

  •        find out about the rules and documents needed to move goods between the UK and EU
  •        complete a free border readiness check to ensure they have the correct documentation to cross the EU border
  •        get help using the Check an HGV is ready to cross the border service

HGV drivers can also use the free live webchat function to complete a border readiness check between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Wednesday 23 December 2020

School return and childcare arrangements
The return of schools after Christmas and New Year will change following the First Minister’s announcement on Saturday and the Scottish Government guidance.  Below is a letter issued to parents outlining arrangements for the return of schools and childcare arrangements for key workers:

Arrangements for the return to school and establishments – January 2021

Further to my letter sent yesterday I can now confirm arrangements for the return to school in January 2021. This letter sets out the current position, based on the most up to date information available to us as a Council.  

Christmas holiday period and January term dates. 

Our schools and early years establishments finish for the holidays today, Tuesday 22 December 2020 and all pupils were originally set to return on Wednesday 6 January 2021.  For the majority of pupils the holidays have now been extended until Monday 11 January 2021. 

For the week beginning Monday 11 January 2021, pupils will access remote learning.  This means that the majority of pupils will be learning from home.  Your school will provide you with the details for this learning.  Most learning will be online but schools will also make learning packs available where necessary.

For the week beginning Monday 18 January 2021 onwards, the Scottish government guidance expects establishments to be open to all staff and pupils for in-person teaching and learning as normal, and operating within the existing guidance on reducing risks in schools and strategic framework protection levels.

Arrangements in place if you are a key worker and require childcare.

The Scottish Government has granted the council an exceptional closure day on 6 January 2021 to allow our establishments to plan for the following school days and beyond.  This means that Inverclyde schools and early years establishments will provide childcare for the children of key workers from 7 January 2021.

We need to balance the number of pupils physically in schools with the needs for childcare.  It is simply not possible to offer childcare for every pupil and we ask that you only use this facility if it is absolutely necessary.

If at all possible please use other sources of childcare where and when it is available, this is permitted in the Level 4 guidance.  Our schools can be flexible and you do not have to access childcare every day. 

We appreciate the stress that the arrangements can cause for families but this has to be balanced with the ongoing safety of our pupils and staff.  We would like to offer childcare for all those key workers who require it but may need to prioritise if schools have too many applicants. 

To be eligible to access childcare:

  • both parents must be key workers. In the case of a single parent they must meet the criteria below,
  • children should attend only when there are no alternative childcare arrangements,
  • key workers who are able to work from home are unlikely to be eligible.

Applying for essential key worker childcare care from school and early years establishments

All parents who are key workers and meet the criteria should apply for a childcare place at their child’s school / establishment by 9am on 6 January 2021 by completing the application form sent out by schools.  You should return this directly to your school/establishment using the office email address. 

On 6 January 2021 school and early years establishments will process applications from all parents on this day and confirm places for 7 and 8 January 2021 and week beginning 11 January 2021 with all applicants.

Childcare in schools will be delivered from 9am to 3pm.  Early years establishments will inform of the specific arrangements.

In addition, schools will make contact with individual families whose children may require access to school for other reasons. 

Key worker definition:

Health and care workers directly supporting COVID response, and associated staff; health and care workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning.

All other health and care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (for example: fire, police, prisons, social workers), as well as those supporting our critical national infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.

All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised).

REMINDER: Communication about positive Covid cases over Christmas holidays

To ensure we are able to react to any confirmed positive cases relating to pupils over the Christmas holiday period, we would ask that parents use the email address below from 23 December 2020 if your child receives a notification of a positive COVID-19 test.

The email address is: covid.educationhq@inverclyde.gov.uk

This email address will be monitored by education staff during the holiday period.

We ask that when emailing us about a positive case that parents include key information including the name of your child, the school they attend, date of birth and a phone number for us to contact you on.

Ruth Binks
Education, Communities & Organisational Development
Corporate Director

Libraries and Watt Institution – level four arrangements
When Inverclyde Council’s libraries are due to re-open in January 2021 all areas of mainland Scotland, including Inverclyde, will be in level four.  The national guidelines for level four mean that libraries and museums will require to remain closed to public access.  Access to PCs will also not be available.

The ‘connect and collect’ and ‘books on wheels’ delivery service will continue and you will be able to return books while using these two services.

Below are the arrangements for individual libraries:

  • Greenock Central, South West, Gourock, and Inverkip and Wemyss Bay libraries will close at 2pm on Thursday 24 December 2020, and will re-open on Tuesday 5 January 2021, when current hours will resume for ‘connect and collect’ and delivery only.
  • Kilmacolm Library will close at 2pm on Wednesday 23 December 2020, and will re-open at 10am on Wednesday 6 January 2021 when current hours resume for ‘connect and collect’ and delivery only.
  • Port Glasgow Library will close at 2pm on Thursday 24 December 2020, and will re-open in 7½ John Wood Street at 10am on Monday 11 January 2021 offering a pop up service of ‘connect and collect’ and delivery.

The Watt Institution (McLean Museum) will close to the public at 2pm on Friday 24 December 2020 and will not re-open to the public until further notice.   However there will be a virtual enquiry service available from 10am on Wednesday 6 January 2021- please email wattinstitution@Inverclyde.gov.uk

Coronavirus (COVID-19): local authority indicators and Levels - 22 December 2020

The Scottish Government has published the outcome of the 7th review of the allocation of levels to local authorities, alongside evidence and analysis informing these decisions. The publication on the Scottish Government website includes links to New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group - minutes - 18 December 2020; UK Government press conference slides - 19 December 2020; statement by the UK Government Chief Medical Officer - 19 December 2020; Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland's Strategic Framework and Coronavirus (COVID-19): Framework for Decision-Making. You can also download the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Strategic Framework summary indicators and trends - 22 December 2020 which highlights information for every area of Scotland.

Christmas and the festive period
The Scottish Government has updated it’s Christmas and festive period Coronavirus guidance to include information on Christmas bubbles.

It highlights that Christmas bubbles can be formed on 25 December 2020 to help reduce loneliness and isolation. You can meet with your bubble in a home, outdoors or in a place of worship.  The guidance emphasises that you do not have to form a bubble if you do not want to – the safest way to spend Christmas is to stay in your own household, in your own home and your own local area.

The guidance highlights action people should take if forming a Christmas bubble:

  • minimise the number of people in a Christmas bubble.  8 people from 3 households (plus children under 12 years of age from the three households) is the legal maximum.  One of the households can be an extended household.  But our recommendation is that a gathering of no more than 2 households would be better - the smaller the bubble, the better and safer it will be
  • stay outside as much as possible.  We strongly recommend that you should stay outdoors as much as possible and that, if you have to meet indoors, you should minimise the time you spend inside
  • minimise the distance you travel.  The law allows you to travel within Scotland – but not to or from outside Scotland – to form a Christmas bubble. You must travel to form a bubble and return home on Christmas day
  • You should not go to a pub, restaurant, café or entertainment venue, for example a cinema or theatre, with your bubble.

Hogmanay and New Year: Christmas bubbles apply on Christmas day only.  They will not apply at Hogmanay and New Year. All of mainland Scotland will be in Level 4 over Hogmanay and New Year with Orkney, Shetland, Na h-Eileanan Siar and the more remote islands in Argyll and Bute and Highland in Level 3. You should follow the rules on meeting up and travelling for your level.

Touring Fund for Theatre and Dance
Creative Scotland has launched funding to support outdoor and non-conventionally staged work that complies with Covid-19 restrictions. The overall budget for this round of the Touring Fund for Theatre and Dance is £600,000 and there are no upper or lower limits on the amount an applicant can apply for.  The deadline for applications is 5 February 2021 and details of how to apply are available at the Creative Scotland website.

Furlough and loan schemes extended
The Chancellor has announced that the furlough scheme has been extended until the end of April 2021 with the government continuing to contribute 80% towards wages and businesses will also be given until the end of March to access the ‘bounce back loan scheme’. More details are published at the Gov.UK website.

Festive safety guidance
Attached to this COVID-19 briefing is a short advert and a pdf document with two fact sheets highlighting festive safety advice for your own guidance and to share with colleagues, customers, family and friends.  The advert includes advice from Professor Jason Leitch from the latest safety campaign launched in the run up to Christmas.

Avian influenza (bird flu): how to spot and report the disease
The Scottish Government has published advice on what to do if you suspect there is an outbreak of avian influenza. The advice highlights the latest update published on 19 December 2020: Further testing of the Avian influenza H5N8 virus identified on a small commercial free range laying flock on Sanday Island, Orkney has been confirmed this to be a highly pathogenic strain. Temporary Control Zones (TCZs) of 3 km and 10 km put in place on 17 December have been replaced by a 3km Protection Zone (PZ) and a 10 km Surveillance Zone (SZ). These zones place movement restrictions on for example, poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure.   Further information about these zones can be found in the declaration.  Read more information about this outbreak in the news release. 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Monday 21 December 2020

New guidance issued for the festive period
The Scottish Government has announced (Saturday 19 December 2020) that restrictions are to be tightened due to spread of new variant of COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the new, highly contagious strain of the virus.

The First Minister announced:

  • the planned easing of restrictions around Christmas will be limited to Christmas Day itself, and not the previous 5 day window that was planned
  • legal household limits will still apply - a maximum of 8 people from 3 households - however advice is to minimise the numbers. Where possible, people should celebrate the festive period at home in their own household and meet with others outdoors
  • other than for specific exemptions, travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK will not be legal
  • travel within Scotland will be allowed on Christmas Day
  • from Boxing Day, all of Scotland will have Level 4 restrictions applied, including the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality. The only exceptions will be Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and the other island communities where restrictions have been reduced in recent weeks, who will be placed in Level 3
  • from Boxing Day, in line with existing law, travel across local authority boundaries between areas in Level 3 or 4 will not be legal other than for specific exempt purposes.

The First Minister’s statement is available to read in full at the Scottish Government website.

School’s update issued
Following the First Minister’s statement, which included a schools update, the council’s education service has written to parents today (Monday 21 December 2020):

As you are aware, the First Minister made an announcement on Saturday about the arrangements for the start of the term in January 2021. This is because there are significant concerns about the new variant of the Coronavirus.

The arrangements in place for the majority of children are as follows:

  • On the 6th, 7th and 8th January 2021 schools and early years establishments will open to school staff only and pupils will remain on holiday.
  • For the week beginning the 11th January 2021 remote learning will be provided. This means the pupils will learn remotely at home.
  • From the 18th January 2021 assuming there is confidence that the virus is under control the aim is to reopen schools and early years establishments more fully.

The Scottish Government have issued guidance that the exception to the above is for children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. Further clarification is being sought by Directors of Education from the Scottish Government about these arrangements. Details will be sent out about the arrangements in place for children of key workers and vulnerable children tomorrow. 

I absolutely appreciate that this news is not what we all wanted to hear, and that families will seek clarification of the arrangements in place. Please be assured that we are working at speed to send out information as soon as it is known.

Yours faithfully,

Ruth Binks
Corporate Director
Education, Communities & Organisational Development

Strategic Framework Business Fund

The following update has been published about the ‘strategic framework business fund’:

A high volume of applications is expected to the Strategic Framework Business Fund.  Applications will be administered as quickly as possible.  

The Strategic Framework Business Fund is a Scottish Government grant fund, linked to Scotland’s Strategic Framework.   If your business is required at any point from 2 November 2020 to close by law or is specifically required to change its operations due to COVID-19 restrictions such as being legally required to close earlier than normal, you may be eligible to apply for grant support. The application form found in the document section of the business support page of the council’s coronavirus web pages lists eligible businesses according to the Strategic Framework Level.  Grants will be paid every four weeks in arrears as long as restrictions last. 

If you have applied to the Strategic Framework Business Fund since November 2020 and your business has received a payment, you are not required to apply again.  Instead, your application will be reviewed and you will be notified by email about the next payment.   

Businesses that have to adopt physical distancing or where the demand for products or services has been reduced because of the pandemic or other restrictions which impact on individuals and communities are not eligible.

Contacts over Christmas and New Year
Out of hours contacts and contact details for a range of council, health and social care services and local voluntary agencies and groups are being published tomorrow (22 December 2020) in a four page feature in the Greenock Telegraph.  Contact details for council services are also published at the coronavirus pages of the council website.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Thursday 17 December 2020

Covid vaccinations start in Inverclyde

HSCP district nurse Carol Connelly first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in Inverclyde
HSCP district nurse Carol Connelly first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in Inverclyde

Inverclyde HSCP district nurse Carol Connelly, pictured, became the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in Inverclyde yesterday (Wednesday). 

Carol, who is a care home liaison nurse based at Greenock Health Centre, was one of between 200-300 staff to receive the jab on day one.

She said: “I didn’t feel a thing. I’m smiling.
“It’s just like a flu vaccination. I feel fine.”

The first local care home residents are due to start receiving the vaccine tomorrow (Friday).

 

Christmas stay at home message

Govt stay safe Christmas logo

The first minister has joined with the leaders of the UK Government and the Welsh Government in issuing guidance on how the public should approach Christmas celebrations this year.

The ‘strong recommendation’ of the Scottish Government is for people across Scotland is to celebrate Christmas this year within their own household and in their own home - and as far as possible to keep any interaction with other households to a minimum. The governments say this is ‘by far the safest way to spend this Christmas and keep your loved ones safe’.

However, certain flexibilities were agreed in recognition of the impact of loneliness over Christmas on wellbeing and the fact that some people will not be willing to leave loved ones alone.

Anyone choosing to spend time with other households indoors are being urged to: keep the duration of any interaction as short as possible; keep any bubble as small as possible; avoid travel and overnight stays unless unavoidable; and comply with all distancing and hygiene advice.

The full statement and further advice can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/news/joint-approach-to-christmas/.

 

Still Game stars launch Inverclyde festive film

Launch of Inverclyde festive film The Magical Beacon Stone

Actors Jane McCarry and Mark Cox, from TV hit Still Game, joined pupils from Craigmarloch School, Port Glasgow High and St Stephen’s to launch the Inverclyde festive film, ‘The Magical Beacon Stone’. It was premiered in schools on Wednesday and is continuing today (Thursday) before being made available for everyone to watch for free from tomorrow (Friday) at 10am via the Beacon Arts Centre website. People can book their virtual ‘front row seat’ now. 

The comedy adventure is being produced by the Beacon in partnership with Inverclyde Council. Jane and Mark star in the 45-minute film alongside fellow Greenock panto regulars Lee Samuel, Jimmy Chisholm and Kim Allan. There’s also guests appearances from Still Game and River City actor Sanjeev Kohli and Inverclyde’s own Provost Martin Brennan.

Book now at www.beaconartscentre.co.uk for unlimited viewing until 31 December.

 

Inverclyde remains in Level 2

The weekly review of covid protection levels was carried out on Tuesday (15 December 2020) and Inverclyde’s level remains unchanged from Level 2. The Scottish Government published a summary of reasons for allocation of level which highlights that Inverclyde’s situation remains broadly stable with case levels and positive tests still ‘low’. Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will move from Level 2 to Level 3 at 6pm tomorrow (Friday 18 December). The levels across the rest of the country remain unchanged.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): allocation of levels to local authorities – 15 December 2020 outlines the outcome of the 6th review of the allocation of levels to local authorities, alongside evidence and analysis informing these decisions.

 

First regional Covid test hub live

The first of three regional hub laboratories set up to increase Scotland’s testing capacity opened in Glasgow on Tuesday (15 December).

STV News at Alt-na-Craig House Care Home in Greenock

Alt-na-Craig House Care Home in Greenock featured on STV News on Tuesday night, pictured, as it’s the first care home in Scotland to come through the new regional testing hubs as part of a staff testing pilot. 

The Glasgow (West) hub laboratory is located at Gartnavel Hospital on a site formerly occupied by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, and will be managed by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde.

This site will be staffed by around 60 people with initial capacity to process 6,000 tests a day, including those from Inverclyde.

 

Schools and early years Covid-19 cases

The following schools and early years centre have been affected by covid positive cases: Lady Alice Nursery (Monday), Bluebird Family Centre (Tuesday), Notre Dame High (Tuesday), Port Glasgow High (Wednesday). Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school or nursery.

 

Covid-19 £500 Bonus Payment Scam

Health and social care workers are being warned about a scam relating to the recently-announced bonus payment for staff in the sector.

On 30 November 2020, the first minister announced that a one-off pro-rated payment of £500 would be made available by the Scottish Government to all Scottish NHS and social care workers employed since 17 March 2020, as recognition for their extraordinary service during the pandemic.

Hoax emails and telephone calls have been received by NHS and social care staff within the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, requesting bank details from them in order for the bonus payment to be made. This has been identified as a scam, and staff are urged not to disclose any bank details to unknown callers.

All bonus payments will be coordinated through payroll departments.  All contractor payments will be coordinated through practitioner services where the process for GP Practices, Dental Practices, Optometrists and Pharmacies is yet to be confirmed.

Staff will not be required to disclose any personal details or bank account details over the telephone in relation to this payment.  Any enquiries should be directed in the first instance to your line manager or your payroll department.

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Friday 11 December 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

Covid vaccine leaflet
Covid Vaccine Leaflet

Guidance and advice is published at the NHS inform website on the roll out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The site includes useful guidance on a range of topics including:

  • Who will be offered the coronavirus vaccine
  • When and where you will get your coronavirus vaccinations
  • About the vaccine used to protect against coronavirus
  • At your coronavirus vaccination appointment
  • Pregnancy, breastfeeding and the coronavirus vaccine
  • Side effects of the coronavirus vaccine,and
  • Coronavirus vaccine leaflets

Changes to public health requirements for positive contacts and overseas arrivals

Anyone required to self-isolate, due to contact with someone who has had a positive test for coronavirus (COVID-19), or as a result of quarantine rules on arrival from overseas will need to do so for 10 days following updated clinical advice. Currently the self-isolation period for international travellers and for contacts of positive cases in Scotland is 14 days but this will change from next Monday.

The Scottish Government has announced that following a review of the latest evidence and discussions between the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers they are now confident that the self-isolation period can be reduced to 10 days.

The change, taking effect from Monday 14 December 2020, will apply as follows:

  • Someone who, from 14 December, has been contacted through Test and Protect – including by the scot app – or their Local Health Board and have been notified to self-isolate, should do so for 10 days.
  • Someone who, from 14 December, is required to quarantine following arrival into Scotland from overseas, should self-isolate for a period of 10 days.
  • Someone who was previously instructed to self-isolate will, from 14 December, be able to stop self-isolating ten days from when they were first notified to do so.
  • Close contacts include members of the same household who test positive for COVID-19 – from 14 December, they will now only need to isolate for 10 days, rather than 14.

The Scottish Government website contains further information on how contact tracing works and on international travel and quarantine requirements.

Care Home visiting pilot in Inverclyde
Care home visiting pilot in Inverlcyde 
featured on STV

Care home visiting

A care home pilot supporting safe visiting has been featured on STV News.  The article featured pals of 60 years Ella and June meeting at Bagatelle care home in Greenock which is part of a national pilot scheme.  The article is available to view on the STV player until 6.30pm this evening (Friday 11 December 2020).

Emergency funding for sport

The Scottish Government has announced a £55 million emergency sports funding package to tackle lost ticket revenue during the pandemic.  The funding package includes:

  • Scottish Football - £20 million loan funding for the Scottish Premiership and £10 million in grants for all other levels outwith the Premiership – including tiers below the SPFL and women’s football
  • Scottish Rugby - £15 million in grants and £5 million in loan funding
  • Basketball - £300,000 in grants
  • Netball - £100,000 in grants
  • Motorsport - £400,000 in grants
  • Ice Hockey and Ice rinks - £200,000 in grants for ice hockey and £2 million in grants for ice rinks
  • Horseracing - £2 million in grants

The full emergency funding for sport announcement is available to read on the Scottish Government website.

Travel restrictions updated

A ban on travel to and from Jersey is being introduced following a significant increase in the number of positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19). The ban will take effect at 6pm today (Friday 11 December 2020), alongside the lifting of travel restrictions to and from most of the Republic of Ireland.

Travellers arriving in Scotland this weekend from the Canary Islands must self-isolate  on arrival. A significant increase in the proportion of cases testing positive in these islands, alongside a rise in the number of cases of coronavirus being identified, and the associated risk of importation into Scotland has led to the decisions to remove exemption status.

At the same Botswana and Saudi Arabia are being added to the list of destinations exempt from the current 14-day quarantine period on arrival in Scotland.

All these changes take effect from 4am Saturday 12 December 2020. 

Those travelling abroad should check in advance for any local requirements to quarantine on arrival at their destination. Further information about the foreign travel public health rules, including quarantine requirements, can be read on the Scottish Government website. This includes the existing list of overseas destinations where those arriving in Scotland are exempt from self-isolation.

Zero waste food pantry open

The Magical Beacon Stone
The Magical Beacon Stone

Fresh food at affordable prices is on the menu for Inverclyde residents to support families and tackle waste. The council has teamed up with Inverclyde Community Development Trust (The Trust) to open a new community food pantry, ‘The Pantry’, in Grieve Road in Greenock. It will be stocked with perfectly good, surplus goods to help reduce waste while providing high quality, fresh produce for residents across the district.

Countdown to star-studded Inverclyde festive film

Christmas will come early for the people of Inverclyde next week with the launch of a star-studded festive film for all the family to watch for free. Finishing touches are being put on ‘The Magical Beacon Stone’, featuring Jane McCarry, Mark Cox and Sanjeev Kohli from TV hit Still Game. They will be joined by Jimmy Chisholm, currently in BBC Scotland soap River City, and Lee Samuel, actress Kim Allan and even Provost Martin Brennan, who will make a cameo appearance.

The 40-minute long festive film is being produced by the Beacon Arts Centre in partnership with Inverclyde Council and it can be booked online for free at the Beacon website.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Thursday 10 December 2020

SQA awards update

The National Qualifications Group – chaired by SQA – confirmed National 5 qualifications awarded in 2021 will be done so based on teacher and lecturer judgement, supported by quality assurance. The statement can be found here - https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/96101.html. In addition, the Deputy First Minister also confirmed (as highlighted in Covid-19 Briefing – Tuesday 8 December 2020) that examinations for Higher, and Advanced Higher qualifications would in 2021 would be cancelled - https://www.gov.scot/news/sqa-awards-update/.

Staggered return to campus for university students

Universities will stagger the return of undergraduate students to campuses over at least six weeks, within a package of measures to minimise the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), it has been announced by the Scottish Government. With only very limited exceptions, undergraduates should initially plan to restart their studies at home and only return to campuses and term-time accommodation when notified to do so by their universities.

When  students return to term-time accommodation, they  will be offered lateral flow COVID-19 testing, similar to that offered ahead of Christmas. All students are being asked to restrict their social interaction for a fortnight before they return to university and for the same period after they get there. College students – who largely do not move away from home to go to education – should return as planned, in line with the protection level for the area their college is in at that time.

New campaign as fraud continues to rise

Police Scotland is running a major campaign to help people protect themselves from fraud - which has become one of the most commonly experienced crimes in the country. Cases of criminals exploiting vulnerable and unsuspecting people and persuading them to part with money or personal information are continuing to rise.

During the six-week campaign, in partnership with Take Five to Stop Fraud, officers will also warn that criminals are becoming more sophisticated and convincing in their methods, and taking advantage of advances in technology.

Support other council areas

The Scottish Government has confirmed that all 11 council areas currently in level 4 will move to level 3 restrictions from Friday 11 December 2020.  Shops that have been closed in these areas can open from 6am on Friday. Other restrictions will remain in place until 6pm.  Inverclyde, Falkirk and Angus will move from level 3 to level 2 on Friday while Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders will move to level 1.

Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund

The Scottish Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund provides grants for food and drink businesses suffering hardship as a result of coronavirus. The grant may be used to support the fixed costs of operating the business and specific additional costs, including losses of stock. The detailed information on how to apply and what grant funding can and cannot be used for is available from the Scottish Government website’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scottish Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund publication.

Nursery rate relief extended until 2023

The Scottish Government has announced that qualifying day nurseries will continue to benefit from 100% relief on non-domestic rates until at least June 2023. Extending the scheme, initially due to end on 31 March 2021, will allow for a full evaluation of the impact of the day nursery relief on providers, parents and carers – which is a recommendation of the Barclay Review of non-domestic rates. Read the full Nursery rate relief extended until 2023 statement at the Scottish Government website.

Furlough claims for November deadline

The Coronavirus Job Retention (or Furlough) Scheme has been extended until 31 March 2021 and the government will review the scheme in January 2021. Claims for furlough days in November 2020 must be submitted by 14 December 2020.  Businesses can find out more at the GOV.UK website.

Events industry survey

VisitScotland’s Events Directorate is conducting a second online survey of the event industry supply chain to gather further vital information on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the businesses working in the sector. The survey is open until the 15 December 2020. To take part in the survey, please complete this questionnaire: https://wh1.snapsurveys.com/s.asp?k=160699372066

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 8 December 2020

Updated Covid-19 protection levels

The weekly review of covid protection levels was carried out today (8 December 2020) and Inverclyde’s level will move from level three to level two at 6pm on Friday 11 December 2020. The Scottish Government has published a summary of reasons for the allocation of level which highlights that “reductions to both case numbers and test positivity to levels consistent with a lower level to move to level 2”.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): allocation of levels to local authorities - 8 December 2020 outlines the outcome of the latest review of the allocation of levels to local authorities, alongside evidence and analysis informing these decisions.

First COVID-19 vaccinations in Scotland take place

The first vaccinations against coronavirus (COVID-19) have been given in Scotland to those who will be carrying out the vaccination programme. Initial supplies of the Pfizer vaccine have been arriving at NHS Boards across Scotland since the weekend and are being stored at the required Ultra Low Temperature ahead of the start of the vaccination programme, the Scottish Government has announced.

Scottish Parliament TV
Scottish Parliament TV

Higher exams to be cancelled for Scottish pupils

The Deputy First Minister has announced in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon that next year's Higher and Advanced Highers exams are to be cancelled in Scottish schools.  Full details have yet to be published on the Scottish Government or SQA websites, but details are expected to be published soon.  The BBC is reporting the news and the statement can be viewed on the Scottish Parliament TV website.  The Deputy First Minister has highlighted that the decision has been based on the disruption that Covid has caused to the education system rather than safety concerns.

Organised activities for children

Guidance has been published by the Scottish Government for the safe running of organised activities for children and young people.  The Coronavirus (COVID-19): organised activities for children guidance is for organised unregulated activities and services provided indoors and outdoors for children and young people, including babies and toddlers, that are voluntary, third sector, parent or peer led or unregulated providers delivering a service or activity directly to children under 18.

Famous faces kick off festive season

Scotland hero John McGinn helped kick off the festive season in Inverclyde by joining a host of famous faces for a virtual Christmas spectacular. The Aston Villa midfielder, who last month helped fire the national side to the rescheduled Euro 2020 finals next year – the country’s first major tournament in 23 years, sent a special message to local people as part of the council’s virtual lights switch-on event on Friday evening.

His club boss Dean Smith also chipped in and wished everyone well. The council’s annual switch-on events went online this year due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions but it proved every bit as spectacular with the Premier League duo joined by the entire Greenock Morton first team squad and the cast of the Inverclyde festive film, The Magical Beacon Stone, in wishing residents a happy Christmas.

The online curtain-raiser also featured the lights from every local town and village accompanied by musical performances of festive favourites from Inverclyde Voices choir and students from Notre Dame High and Clydeview Academy, dance routines performed by youngsters from Lucy’s Dance School plus special messages from Provost Martin Brennan, Reverend Alan Sorensen and pupils at various primaries and nurseries across the district.

The Inverclyde Christmas lights switch-on can be viewed at the Inverclyde Council You Tube channel where it has been viewed by over 5,700 people already.

The Magical Beacon Stone
The magical Beacon Stone
Festive Film

The Magical Beacon Stone…oh yes it is

Among the well-wishers taking part in the virtual festive switch on were Still Game pair Jane McCarry and Mark Cox, River City actor Jimmy Chisholm, panto favourite Lee Samuel and actress Kim Allan, who are among the cast starring in The Magical Beacon Stone.

The festive film is , which is being produced by the council in partnership with the Beacon Arts Centre.

The festive film will be premiered to school children across Inverclyde next week and then will be available to watch for free via the Beacon website  with people able to book now.

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Thursday 3 December 2020

No change to school holiday dates

The Scottish Government has announced today that the public health advice is not to alter Christmas term dates and therefore Christmas and New Year school holiday dates will remain as planned.

The timing of school holidays, which vary around Scotland, was raised with Ministers in the Education Recovery Group, given many schools break up very close to Christmas and the potential for increased social interaction in households following the limited relaxation of rules between 23-27 December.

In Inverclyde, schools will close on Tuesday 22 December 2020 and reopen on Wednesday 6 January 2021. The school holiday planner is available here: https://www.inverclyde.gov.uk/education-and-learning/schools/schools-holidays.

Covid-19 vaccine latest

Following the announcement of approval of the first Covid-19 vaccine, the Scottish Government has published more information about the vaccination programme.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has confirmed that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been authorised for use in the UK.

The first deliveries to Scotland are expected to be made early next week with injections being given from Tuesday 8 December.

The vaccine, which must be stored at well below freezing, will be transported to 23 locations around the country in temperature controlled lorries.

Everyone being vaccinated will need two vaccines, between 21 and 28 days apart.

Those giving the vaccination to others will receive the injection first. The programme will then follow the independent advice received from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which recommends prioritising those with the greatest clinical need - including those aged over 80, and health and social care workers. The storage requirements mean logistics around delivery to care homes are more challenging and they are currently under consideration.

60-64 age group flu jabs start Monday

The flu vaccine programme is now being made available to anyone in the 60-64 years age group. This includes those who will turn 60 by the 31 March 2021.

Letters are on their way to people in this category explaining what to do next.

The vaccine will be made available at Greenock Town Hall over a two-week period, from Monday (7 December) until Friday 18 December.

These are drop-in sessions so there is no need to pre-book a slot.

HSCP staff will be on hand throughout each day, with some late night sessions too.

It is important that people bring their letter with them. However, if it has not arrived by Monday (7 December) and people wish to attend that day, they can do so.

People are being urged to adhere to the social-distancing guidelines in and around the town hall. If there is a queue, they are being asked to consider returning at a different time or later in the week.

Anyone in this age group who is housebound, arrangements can be made for a flu vaccine at home. Please phone 0800 767 6699 for more information.

The vaccine will be available in Greenock Town Hall during the following hours in December:

Mon 7th                9.15am – 7.30pm

Tue 8th                  9.15am – 7.30pm

Wed 9th                Closed

Thurs 10th            9.15am – 7.30pm

Fri 11th                  9.15am – 4.30pm

Sat 12th                 9.15am – 4.30pm

 

Mon 14th              9.15am – 7.30pm

Tue 15th                9.15am – 7.30pm

Wed 16th                       Closed

Thurs 17th            9.15am – 7.30pm

Fri 18th                  9.15am – 4.30pm

For more information or advice, please visit www.nhsinform.scot or phone 0800 767 6699.

School affected by Covid-19 case

The following school has been affected by a covid positive case: St Andrew’s Primary (Wednesday). Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school.

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 1 December 2020

Updated Covid-19 protection levels

The weekly review of covid protection levels was carried out today (1 December 2020) and Inverclyde’s level remains unchanged from Level 3. The Scottish Government has published a summary of reasons for allocation of level which highlights that while Inverclyde’s cases and test positivity increased slightly over last week, there are improved projections on NHS capacity and the forecast indicator levels for cases and NHS capacity is ‘low’.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): allocation of levels to local authorities – 1 December 2020 outlines the outcome of the 4th review of the allocation of levels to local authorities, alongside evidence and analysis informing these decisions. Levels across the country remain unchanged.

Self-isolation support grant extension

The £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant is being extended to include parents on low incomes whose children are asked to self-isolate, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville announced.

The grant will also become available to those who may be eligible for Universal Credit, but have not yet applied. Both changes will be introduced from 7 December.

The Self-Isolation Support Grant provides £500 for low income workers who are in receipt of Universal Credit or other benefits and will lose earnings as a result of having to self-isolate.

Parents or carers of children under 16 who are asked to self-isolate, but who are not required to self-isolate themselves, are not currently eligible for the grant.

This is why the grant will be extended to those parents and carers, where they fulfil the other eligibility criteria:

  • employed or self-employed and unable to work from home
  • in receipt of Universal Credit or one of those which will be replaced by UC (legacy benefits)
  • facing a loss of income from looking after the child during the period of self-isolation

Only one claim per household can be made, where a parent or primary carer is required to look after a child who must isolate.

Eligibility will also be extended to people with a low level of income which means they would be entitled to Universal Credit.

Workplace Wellbeing Matters Plan

Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) has launched its Workplace Wellbeing Matters Plan in partnership with third sector and other partner agencies.

The key mission is to deliver across Inverclyde an ‘integrated and collaborative approaches to support and sustain effective, resilient, and a valued health and social care workforce’.

The launch was marked with a ‘Care for a Cuppa’ event across the HSCP and its partner agencies for staff and volunteers to enjoy either virtually or at a safe two-metre distance.

An introductory video has been produced for people working in health and social care featuring messages from senior figures involved in developing the plan.

The framework links in with the National Wellbeing Hub, which provides a variety of practical help, support and advice for HSCP workers across Scotland via a dedicated website – promis.scot – and a helpline, 0800 111 4191.

The plan was developed alongside third sector and other partner agencies, including Scottish Care, CVS Inverclyde, Your Voice and local care homes, and following discussions with staff across health and social care, who helped identify the key themes.

To find out more about help and support available for people working in the health and social care sector visit www.promis.scot/resource/ggc and watch the launch video on the Inverclyde Council YouTube channel.

Schools and services affected by covid-19 cases

The following schools have been affected by covid positive cases: Moorfoot Primary (Saturday), St Francis’ Primary (Sunday), St John’s Primary (Tuesday) and St Stephen’s High (Tuesday). Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school.

Flu vaccination update

The last day of flu vaccinations halls for the 65+ age group in town halls took place on Monday.

Over 12,000 vaccines have now been administered at venues including Greenock Town Hall, pictured, with help from local health and social care staff and volunteers.

The vaccination programme will now be rolled out to the 60-64 age group. Letters from NHS Scotland will be sent to everyone in the 60-64 age group advising that they can get a flu vaccine if they’ve not already had one.

To find out more about the flu vaccination programme and whether you are eligible for a jab, visit www.nhsinform.scot/flu or call 0800 22 44 88.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Friday 27 November 2020

Guidance for festive period

The Scottish Government has published detailed guidance on forming 'bubbles' over Christmas.  The Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for festive period highlights a range of issues including the safest way to spend Christmas and the festive period,

rule change, and advise for those who have previously been advised to shield.

Parking rules resume

As of Monday 7 December, the enforcement of time-limited on-street parking, which may include the use of parking discs, and residents’ permit schemes will re-commence across Inverclyde. All council-owned car parks – paid-for or otherwise – will remain free to use into the new year to support residents and businesses.

On-street time limits must be adhered to and some areas may require the display of a parking disc in vehicles otherwise motorists face receiving a fine. Drivers should check signs for time limits and whether a parking disc is needed. There will be a supply of discs available from local shops and parking officers will be out and about to provide advice and assistance if required. Residents’ permit zones. People in these area are encouraged to make sure their permit is still valid before enforcement restarts on 7 December. Anyone who exceeds on-street parking time limits, does not display a parking disc in required areas, or who parks in a residents’ zone without a valid permit risks a £60 fine.

Schools and services affected by covid-19 cases

The following school has been affected by a covid positive case: Notre Dame High School.  Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school.

Council Refresh Programme update

The following update has been issued to Inverlcyde Council employees about the Council Refresh Programme:

The Council’s Policy and Resources Committee agreed a range of proposals aimed at increasing job opportunities in Inverclyde and within the council.  The full announcement is available to read on the council website.

The plan sets out a range of interventions to create new apprenticeships, opportunities for graduates, additional funding for employer wage subsidies, a council refresh programme to create more job opportunities within the council, joining the Kickstart programme and additional funding for business support.

You can read the full paper online at the council website in the committees section for the Policy and Resources Committee on 17 November 2020.

Work has already started on the Council Refresh Programme which unlike previous voluntary severance ‘trawls’ this scheme would involve employees who meet the criteria being allowed to leave and by leaving opening up a vacancy to create a new employment opportunity for the local community.

You’ll be aware from previous communication on 5 November 2020 that the Council Refresh Programme aims to create vacancies by allowing employees in targeted, entry-level lower graded positions to leave the Council with up to three added years with early access to their pension. A redundancy payment would not be made as the post is not being deleted.  The Council Refresh Programme would be promoted as a new policy and time-limited to cover the financial period 2021/2023.

Employees do not need to apply to the scheme as posts have been identified through discussions with Corporate Directors.

Any employees included in the targeted trawl for the Council Refresh Scheme will receive a letter or email by close of business on Friday 27 November 2020.

Quarantine rules reinstated for two countries: Estonia and Latvia

Travellers arriving in Scotland from Estonia and Latvia must quarantine for 14 days at home or another address, from 4am on Saturday (28 November 2020). A significant increase in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in those countries as well as a rise in the numbers of cases testing positive, and the associated risk of importation into Scotland has led to the decisions to remove exemption status.

At the same time a number of destinations are being added to the list of countries and territories where travellers will be exempt from quarantine on arrival in Scotland.

They are: Aruba, Bhutan, Israel, Jerusalem, Kiribati, Micronesia, Mongolia, Namibia, Northern Mariana Islands, Rwanda, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Uruguay, Vanuatu and the Caribbean islands of the US Virgin Islands, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

The full statement on Quarantine rules reinstated for two countries can be read at the Scottish Government website which includes links to further information about the foreign travel public health rules, including quarantine requirements and the list of overseas destinations where those arriving in Scotland are exempt from self-isolation.

Testing expansion update

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced plans for a significant expansion in testing for hospital patients, health and social care staff, and communities in Level four areas.  The update can be read at the Scottish Government website and includes links to COVID testing strategy: Health Secretary's statement Wednesday 25 November 2020, Guidance for students returning home and Clinical and scientific review of the Scottish Government testing strategy.

European Structural and Investment Funds

The Scottish Government has published information for stakeholders of the European and Structural Investment Funds programmes from 2014 to 2020.  The Coronavirus (COVID-19): European Structural and Investment Funds guidance page contains questions and answers for lead partners and delivery agents including information on claims processing, staff costs, changes to project activity and staff sickness.

Guidance for call centres and customer contact centre environments

The Scottish Government has published guidance for call centre or customer contact centre environments on safe operation during the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for call centres and customer contact centre environments sets out advice and guidance for customer contact and call centre employers and workers according to the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland's Strategic Framework and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels.

Investigation of outbreaks in manufacturing businesses

The Scottish Government has published guidance for employers on what to expect from an Incident Management Team (IMT) investigation of coronavirus outbreaks in manufacturing businesses. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): investigation of outbreaks in manufacturing businesses - guidance for employers document highlights a range of issues including controlling COVID-19 in the workplace, preparing for an Incident Management Team (IMT) and re-opening considerations.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Wednesday 25 November 2020

Christmas covid approach
An agreement has been reached on a limited relaxation of the rules on household meetings to support people over the Christmas period. A maximum of three households are to be able to meet in a ‘bubble’ during a short window of time across the festive period. Households will be able to travel between local authorities and between the four nations during December 23 and 27 to form a bubble, and must only join one bubble.

The five-day period provides time for travel, and for those who may have to work over Christmas. Households are not required to use all five days and should keep visits to no more than one or two days if possible.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for festive period states:

  • A ‘bubble’ should be formed household to household only (i.e. different people in a household should not pick their own bubble)
  • Between 23 and 27 December, people can meet in an exclusive ‘bubble’ composed of three households
  • you should stay with your ‘bubble’ where they are hosting you and you should follow the travel advice for the level you are in (e.g. people being hosted in a level 3 area cannot go on an outing to a level 2 area)
  • within your ‘bubble’, you can gather in a home, an outdoor place or a place of worship
  • in all other settings - eg. hospitality, entertainment venues – those who have formed a bubble must only socialise with members of their own household
  • households deciding to form a bubble will be advised to limit social contact before and after the period of relaxation

The Four nations approach to Christmas joint statement is available on the Scottish Government website.

Schools and services affected by covid-19 cases

The following school has been affected by a covid positive case: Moorfoot Primary School.  Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school.

Guidance for students returning home
The Scottish Government has published guidance and plans for mass testing of asymptomatic students.   Students travelling home at the end of term will be able to take voluntary coronavirus (COVID-19) tests through their college or university from next Monday (30 November 2020).

Students are also being asked to take extra care in the period leading up their departure, only going out for essential purposes such as learning, exercise and food shopping to minimise the number of contacts they have with others and reduce the potential for spread of the virus. Updated guidance has now been published for students on minimising social contact, testing and end of term travel – whether to other parts of Scotland, the UK or the world.  The full statement is published on the Scottish Government website which includes links to FAQ on the student testing programme and returning home and Guidance on how to travel safely.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Self-employed or a members of a partnership impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) are being encouraged to find out if they can use Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to claim a grant.  The scheme has been extended and HMRC has highlighted that if you were not eligible for the first and second grant based on the information in your self-assessment tax returns, you will not be eligible for the third. To make a claim for the third grant your business must have had a new or continuing impact from coronavirus between 1 November 2020 and 29 January 2021.  Find out more about the scheme, who can claim and how, visit the .gov.uk website.

Coronavirus rules refresh for small business event

FSB Scotland event
FSB Scotland event
3 December 2020

The Federation of Small Business (FSV) is hosting a special webinar on COVID-19 rules and advice with Scotland’s National Clinical Director Jason Leitch and environmental health expert Brian Lawrie on Thursday 3 December 2020 at 9:30am.

The FSB Scotland event, Coronavirus Rules Refresh for Small Businesses, aims to answer attendees’ questions on the new rules and is a chance to brush up on what business owners need to do keep their business compliant.

Hosted by Colin Borland, FSB’s Director of Devolved Nations, the webinar will explore topics such as: What’s the latest on PPE and social distancing for staff and customers? Are there new problems you’ve encountered and you’re not sure about the solution? Would you like to hear more about the route-map out of the crisis?

It will also be looking at detailed questions including:

  • When should staff isolate and businesses close?
  • What’s the Christmas plan? Will businesses be allowed to open?
  • When will the restrictions end? What’s the longer term view?

The event is free and open to non-FSB members and can be promoted and shared through the FSB Scotland on Twitter and Facebook.  The event details can be found at: https://www.fsb.org.uk/event-calendar/coronavirus-rules-refresh-for-small-businesses.html

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 24 November 2020

Updated covid-19 protection levels

The Scottish Government has announced a further updated COVID-19 protection levels which will see East Lothian move down a protection level today (Tuesday 24 November 2020) to level two from 6am. However, an increase in positive cases will leave Midlothian in level three.

The weekly review of covid protection levels was carried out today (24 November 2020) and Inverclyde’s level remains unchanged from level three.  The Scottish Government has published a summary of reasons for allocation of level which highlights Inverclyde’s cases and test positivity decreasing over last week and improved projections on NHS capacity as reason for the allocation remaining unchanged.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): allocation of levels to local authorities - 24 November 2020 outlines the outcome of the 3rd review of the allocation of levels to local authorities, alongside evidence and analysis informing these decisions.

Face coverings campaign

Reusable face coverings campaign
Reusable face coverings campaign

A new campaign has been launched to encourage people to choose reusable face coverings and to dispose of any single-use coverings in their general waste bins.

The campaign is launched in partnership with environmental organisations Zero Waste Scotland, Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Marine Conservation Society and aims to reduce the impact of this latest pollutant to our streets, countryside,

coast and waterways.

The partnership comes after Marine Conservation Society published the results of its Great British Beach Clean and revealed Covid-related litter, such as face coverings or gloves, was found on almost a quarter (23.5%) of Scotland’s beaches.

The campaign highlights the impact on the environment and wildlife.

Early years covid survey

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is inviting parents and carers of children aged 2–7 to take part in a survey to find out how their families have been affected by the different restrictions announced as we continue to live with coronavirus. The survey will cover the themes of key behaviours, children’s play and learning, use of outdoor spaces and social interactions, and the experience of parents and carers during COVID-19 in Scotland.

Access the COVID-19 Early Years resilience and impact surveyat: https://surveys.publichealthscotland.scot/index.php/173415/lang-en

Schools and services affected by covid-19 cases

The following school has been affected by a covid positive case: Moorfoot Primary School.  Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school.

Tourism covid survey

A new survey has been launched by Scottish tourism leaders to track the ongoing impact of the pandemic on businesses across all of Scotland’s regions. The findings will be used to prioritise tourism recovery recommendations made to both the Scottish and UK governments, which were published recently by the Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce (STERG).

The survey is open to tourism businesses and is being administered by independent research agency Progressive Partnership on STERG’s behalf until 6 December 2020.

The survey can be found here: https://survey.progressivepartnership.co.uk/snapwebhost/s.asp?k=160519044250&L=1 

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Monday 23 November 2020

Holiday free school meals until Easter for 4,000 pupils

Free school meals for nearly 4,000 Inverclyde children during the school holidays will continue until Easter thanks to a £300,000 support package. Councillors on the council’s policy and resources committee have unanimously agreed to provide additional funding to allow payments to be made direct to families outwith term time to help keep food on the table during these difficult times.

Around 3,750 children are expected to benefit. Parents of pupils who receive free school meals will receive £35 per child at Easter to cover the February half term and Easter breaks.  Read the full statement at the Inverclyde Council website.

Christmas heater heat radiator Santa hat
Support for older people

£130k winter warmers for older people
The council’s policy and resources committee unanimously agreed to spend the money to help some 3,000 elderly residents. Older people are in line for a £15 Christmas meal voucher to make up for the usual festive lunch events which have had to be cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions.

Grants towards helping to keeping household energy bills down for the area’s elderly population will double from £75 to £150. The Christmas lunch vouchers will be delivered in partnership with Inverclyde Community Care Forum (Your Voice) and the warm homes grants will be via Inverclyde Home Energy Advice Team (i.HEAT). Read the full statement on the Inverclyde Council website.

Schools and services affected by covid-19 cases

The following schools has been affected by a covid positive case: Port Glasgow High School, St Ninian’s Primary School and St Joseph’s Primary School nursery.  Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school.

Self-isolation reminder issued

The following update is currently being promoted to remind parents and other residents of the need to self-isolate to support the community:

Signs of coronavirus are a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss/change of taste or smell.

If you have any of these, you and everyone who lives in your home, need to stay at home and get a test straight away.

You can do this online at NHSinform.scot/test-and-protect or by calling 0800 028 2816 if you cannot get online.

You and everyone who lives in your home should then stay at home until the test results come back. This will help stop the spread of the virus and keep your loved ones and community safe.

If you have symptoms you need to self-isolate for 10 days. Everyone who lives in your home should stay home for 14 days in case they develop symptoms.

You shouldn’t just pop to the shops and children need to stay home from school too. Also, no other households should be coming inside your home.

We know it is hard, but support is available.

If you don't know anyone who can help you get food or medicine, call the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).

It may be worth making a short plan just in case you have to self-isolate.

It is worth having a few things at home ready. These should include:

  • Medicines you usually keep handy in your home;
  • Basic food supplies;
  • Contact details of someone or an organisation who could help, if you need it.
Outdoor education recovery fund
Outdoor education

Staying at home and self-isolating isn’t easy but it is a public duty all of us may be asked to do to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. If you are worried about your mental health, visit www.clearyourhead.scot for useful help and advice.

Residential outdoor education centres fund
The Scottish Government has announced a fund to help residential outdoor education centres mitigate the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis opens for applications today. Centres which are facing financial challenges can apply for funds to help with running costs and to enable staff to deliver outdoor learning in and around schools.  Details of the Covid-19 Residential Outdoor Education Centre Recovery Fund can be found at the YouthLink Scotland website.

Food and drink recovery plan

food and drink recovery plan
Food and drink
recovery plan

The food and drink sector is getting £5 million to help its recovery from coronavirus (COVID-19) and prepare for Brexit. A new joint industry and government plan containing more than 50 actions has been developed to assist in stimulating demand for produce in key markets and supporting businesses to capitalise on consumer demand. 

The plan aims to mitigate and reverse the damage caused by both the pandemic and the lack of clarity regarding Brexit and aid the industry’s progression to be greener and more resilient. It also builds on the work of the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership in delivering Ambition 2030, the shared vision for the future of Scotland’s food and drink sector. The industry is expected to contribute £3 million of private sector funding to support delivery of the plan through to 2023.

The full announcement and report is available at the Scottish Government website and highlights that the food and drink sector has been one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines update

The first coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations could be given to health and social care staff, older care home residents and those over 80 years old who live in the community from as early as December 2020.  Health Secretary Jeane Freeman outlined to the Scottish Parliament that the first groups to be prioritised for vaccination have been identified based on current independent clinical advice.

Once these initial priority groups have been vaccinated, those over 65 will be offered the vaccination along with those under 65 who are at additional clinical risk, before moving on to the wider population over the age of 18.  An agreement has also been reached with the British Medical Association on the terms and conditions of GPs’ involvement in the programme.

Covid travel restrictions
Follow the covid travel restrictions

Guidance on travel and transport

Guidance has been published on travel rules and restrictions and protection levels, including information on essential travel. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on travel and transport, published by The Scottish Government highlights international travel (outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man); travelling around Scotland; travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; exceptions and information on travelling safely.

Changes to social care assessments

The Scottish Government has published the Coronavirus (COVID 19): changes to social care assessments - statutory guidance for local authorities on sections 16 and 17 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 as updated on 6 Nov  which was updated on 6 November 2020 to reflect the changes brought in by the Coronavirus (Suspension: Adult Social Care) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 which come into effect on 30 November. The regulations partially suspend section 16 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the 2020 Act”).

Council area maps across Scotland published

The Scottish Government has published maps of local council boundaries across Scotland to assist residents and visitors to stick to the covid protection levels and travel guidance. The maps are available online at The Scottish Government website.

Inverclyde boundary map
Inverclyde boundary map

While Inverclyde currently remains at level three it is important that residents and visitors continue to support the level three restrictions here and the restrictions in other parts of Scotland to control the spread of the virus. 

More detailed information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels for each area of Scotland is available at the Scottish Government website which includes a post code checker.

 

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Thursday 19 November 2020

Supporting neighbouring areas

Level 1 measures
Level 1 measures

From tomorrow (Friday 20 November 2020) 11 council areas in Scotland will move to level four protection levels.

These are:

  • East Ayrshire
  • East Dunbartonshire
  • East Renfrewshire
  • Glasgow
  • North Lanarkshire
  • Renfrewshire
  • South Ayrshire
  • South Lanarkshire
  • Stirling
  • West Dunbartonshire
  • West Lothian

From Tuesday 24 November 2020 East Lothian and Midlothian will move down from level three to level two. 

Level 2 measures
Level 2 measures

While Inverclyde currently remains at level three it is important that residents and visitors continue to support the level three restrictions here and the restrictions in other parts of Scotland to control the spread of the virus.  Attached are graphics produced by the Scottish Government highlighting restrictions across each of the levels.  More detailed information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels for each area of Scotland is available at the Scottish Government website which includes a post code checker.

Police Scotland message about Covid travel restrictions becoming law

The statement reads:

New measures have been introduced by the Scottish Government to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Police Scotland is asking people to continue to play their part in stopping the virus from spreading.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Speirs said: "We are asking people to take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to protect the NHS and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.

"As we have consistently said throughout the pandemic, the vast majority of the public have been complying with the regulations.

"People have been exceptionally quick to act when new restrictions are introduced. The mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops is evidence of this. Scotland is, generally, a law-abiding nation and I fully expect that public support to continue as these new measures are introduced.

Level 3 measures
Level 3 measures

"Therefore, the policing approach we adopted from the outset of the pandemic will not change. Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance. We will use enforcement as a last resort where there is a clear breach of the legislation.

"The Chief Constable has said publicly on numerous occasions that we will not be routinely stopping vehicles or setting up road blocks, and that will not change as a result of travel restrictions now being in law.

"However, officers may in the course of their duties come across people who are travelling from one local authority area to another. In areas where travel restrictions apply, officers will continue to use the common sense, discretion and excellent judgement that they have applied since the crisis began."

£6m plan to create 200 jobs

AN ambitious £6 million plan by Inverclyde Council to create over 200 fresh jobs has been approved. The council’s  policy and resources committee yesterday gave the go-ahead for a raft of proposals to support residents into work and boost the local economy at a time of crisis.

Under the council’s bold jobs recovery plan, around 60 permanent posts would be created by allowing eligible employees in certain jobs to leave the council with up to three years’ service added and early access to their pension.

A further 34 posts will be supported through the local authority’s successful modern apprentice and graduate programmes and 30 roles will be made available specifically for those aged 16-24 and who are receiving Universal Credit through the ‘Kickstart’ scheme.

Level 4 measures
Level 4 measures

The remainder will be delivered through local employers through the council’s various wage subsidy and business support grant initiatives to support firms in taking on staff.

Read the full statement on the council website news section and the full report is available at the committees section.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in schools                 
The Scottish Government has published an evidence paper on transmission, risks and absences in schools.  The paper, from the COVID-19 Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues, looks at the risks posed by the virus to pupils and staff, and the benefits to children and young people of schools remaining open.

It shows:

  • the rate of coronavirus-related sickness among pupils is low across the country – at 12 November, this represented about 0.1% of all pupils
  • there is no direct evidence that transmission of the virus within schools plays a significant role in driving rates of infection among children
  • data found there is no difference between COVID-19 positivity rates in teachers and school staff relative to other worker groups of the same age
  • closing schools presents a serious risk of harm to the wellbeing of children and young people, particularly those who are vulnerable 

The announcement is available to read on the Scottish Government website which includes links to the sub group’s paper, Public Health Scotland’s report on Covid-19 in schools and updated school guidance published on 30 October 2020.

Schools and services affected by covid-19 cases

The following school has been affected by a covid positive case: Port Glasgow High School. Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school.

COVID-19 reminder on principles for annual leave for council staff

Guidance on the application of annual leave during the Covid-19 pandemic was issued in the Covid-19 Daily briefings on 6 July 2020 and 9 April 2020.  This guidance still applies and it is important that council employees continue to take  annual leave, in discussion with line managers and in line with service delivery requirements.

The leave year continues to run from 1 January to 31 December for 2020 as it does each year. Employees and line managers should have been discussing and planning the taking of any outstanding leave balance prior to the end of the calendar leave year.  Where it has not been possible for managers to approve leave requests prior to  31 December 2020 there is the facility to carry over up to five days leave, which must be taken by the end of March 2021.

In front line critical services, in exceptional circumstances and in line with service delivery commitments, consideration can be given to the carry-over of additional leave where it has not been possible for managers to approve the full allocation. This should be discussed with line managers, who will require to seek Corporate Director approval, if you need to carry forward leave beyond the end of March 2021.

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 17 November 2020

Inverclyde to remain at level three
The Scottish Government has today (17 November 2020) reviewed the tier levels across Scotland. Inverclyde has been confirmed that Inverclyde will remain at level three. The breakdown on the levels set for each council area is updated today at the Scottish Government website which includes a postcode checker to allow residents to search for their local restrictions.

The national guidance on rules and restrictions applying to level three is published at the Scottish Government website.

Local politicians have joined forces to encourage the Inverclyde community to stick to the Covid rules following the announcement:

Stick to the rules, Covid hasn’t gone away – joint message from Inverclyde’s MP, MSP and council leader

THE leader of Inverclyde Council along with the area’s MP and MSP have joined forces to urge residents to stick with the coronavirus rules.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, Ronnie Cowan MP and Stuart McMillan MSP have issued a joint statement encouraging local people of the dangers of Covid-19 and the importance of following the health and safety rules, especially with Christmas on the horizon.

It comes after the three held an online video conference to discuss the ongoing impact of the pandemic on Inverclyde.

This followed fluctuations in the number of positive cases locally which has seen the area kept at Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s coronavirus restrictions system.

In a joint statement, they said: “It’s our public duty to continue to follow the rules to help protect ourselves and each other, especially the most vulnerable in our communities.

“It feels never ending and it’s easy to become complacent and let our guard down. But the fluctuations in infection rates we’re seeing is another stark reminder that this virus is still present in our communities and therefore we all must do our bit to help keep transmission at bay.

“That includes keeping a two-metre distance where possible at all times, wear a face covering, wash your hands regularly, do not have people from outwith your own household in your home, and self-isolate and book a test if you display symptoms of the virus.

“While the wearing of face coverings in public settings is an important tool, they are not a substitute for social-distancing. They don’t protect against this awful virus but offer an additional layer of protection.

“The safety rules are simple to follow and they really do make a difference in the fight against coronavirus. They take on even greater significance at this time of year with Christmas, and all that comes with it, just around the corner.

“While we’re eager for Inverclyde’s national restriction level to be lowered to help struggling local businesses and allow us to reunite with friends and family in a safe way, this will only happen if we all continue to stick to the rules to drive down the rate of infection.

“Whether it’s for yourself, your family, your friends or whoever, please keep at it.”

The restrictions currently in place for Inverclyde under Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s tiered system include: people from one household cannot have those from another household in their home; hospitality venues cannot sell alcohol and must close by 6pm; no travel outside the local authority area unless for essential purposes such as for work, healthcare or caring responsibilities.

Residents are being encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, unless they have to go out for essential reasons, but a maximum of six people from two different households can meet in an outdoor public place or in a café or restaurant, for example.

Full details about what people can and cannot do under Level 3 are available at www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19 and more information about services and support locally can be found at www.inverclyde.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Signs of coronavirus are a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss/change of taste or smell.

Anyone who displays any of these symptoms and everyone who lives with them must stay at home and get a test straight away.

Tests can be booked online at NHSinform.scot/test-and-protect or by calling 0800 028 2816 for those who cannot access the internet.

Protect yourself, protect others, protect Inverclyde
A new short film is being promoted locally across social media channels to encourage Inverclyde to support the coronavirus restrictions and health measures.  The film is published on the council’s you tube channel and promoted through social media and highlights the needs to wear face coverings, avoided crowded areas, good hand hygiene, sticking to social distancing, essential travel guidance and booking a test if you have symptoms.  You can share the short film on social media by visiting the council’s You Tube channel.

Strategic Framework Business Grant  

The Strategic Framework Business Grant is a new grant fund, linked to Scotland’s Strategic Framework.  

Below is the guidance published online at the council website highlighting the grant eligibility:

If your business is required, from 2 November 2020, to close by law or is specifically required to change its operations due to COVID-19 restrictions such as being legally required to close earlier than normal, you may be eligible to apply for grant support. Businesses that have to adopt physical distancing or where the demand for products or services has been reduced because of the pandemic or other restrictions which impact on individuals and communities are not eligible.

Business Temporary Closure Grant

Premises required to close by law will be entitled to a closure grant of:

•             £2,000 if their premises have a rateable value of up to and including £51,000; or

•             £3,000 if their premises have a rateable value of £51,001 or above.

An upper limit of £15,000 in total will apply to any eligible business operating multiple premises.

Business Restrictions Grant

Businesses that remain open but are specifically and legally required to modify their operations as a result of protective measures will be entitled to a hardship grant of:

•             £1,400 if their premises have a rateable value of up to and including £51,000, or

•             £2,100 if their premises have a rateable value of £51,001 or above

 

An upper limit of £10,500 in total will apply to any eligible business operating multiple premises.

Other Qualifying Criteria

•             Your business was trading on 2nd November 2020.

•             Your business is in one of the sectors affected by the current Scottish Government Protection Levels applicable to the Inverclyde Council area, as listed on the application form.

•             Your business premises are registered for Non-Domestic rates. Businesses that pay rates through their landlords rather than directly to a Council are eligible to apply (evidence to be provided through a copy of your lease agreement).

•             Businesses that have breached wider COVID regulations/requirements prior to the Strategic Framework restrictions being implemented on 2nd November are not eligible.

How to apply

The application form is found within the Documents section of this page.  Select the IC Strategic Framework Business Fund form. 

Completed applications must be returned by email to: covidfund@inverclyde.gov.uk with supporting documents as directed on the form. 

Grants will be paid every four weeks in arrears as long as restrictions last. 

Furlough Support Fund

The Furlough Support Fund will deliver support for businesses to contribute towards the 20% of salary costs for furloughed workers that employers faced in October. The scheme will provide grant funding to businesses required to close by law for each of their premises where they have had to furlough staff with a one off payment of £1650 available for the period up to and including 31 October. 

Eligibility

  • •             Your business must have met the eligibility criteria for the Business Closure fund.
  • •             Your business must have furloughed at least one member of staff since 9 October.
  • •             Your business must have been fit to trade on 1st March 2020, and not insolvent as at 1st October 2020

How to Apply

The furlough grant is aligned with the Closure Fund that closed on 3rd November 2020.  If you have already received this grant and indicated you have furloughed on or more employees, you will by now have been contacted for supporting evidence. 

If you did not apply to the Closure Fund, there is still time to apply to the Furlough Support Fund.  An application form will soon be available and published on this webpage so please keep checking.

Further Enquiries

If you have any queries about the above funds, please contact us by e-mailing: covidfund@inverclyde.gov.uk

For more information please refer to the Scottish Government website in the “Other Websites” section of this page.

Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill
New legislation has been published to make sure next year’s Scottish parliamentary election can take place fairly and safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The poll is expected to go ahead as planned on Thursday 6 May 2021 and the Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill has been drafted to provide powers, if needed, to conduct the election differently. The full announcement is published on the Scottish Government website which includes a link to the draft Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill.

Fraud and online child abuse increase
Police Scotland have reported fraud and online child abuse increases while other crimes return to pre-lockdown levels. Crimes of fraud have increased by 45.4% in the first six months of 2020-21 compared to the same period last year and are 83.4% above the five year average across Scotland. Online child sexual abuse is up by 18.4% year on year and by 35.8% when compared to the five year average during the same period.

Between April and September there were 7,466 reported crimes of fraud, compared to 5,136 during the same period last year, according to Police Scotland’s 2020-21 Quarter 2 Performance Report. During the same period there were 1,036 reports of online child sexual abuse, compared to 875 during the first two quarters of 2019-20.

The full statement is available on the Police Scotland website which also includes a link to an update on the role policing is playing in the national effort to combat the spread of coronavirus.

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Monday 16 November 2020

Alcohol ban introduced on Scotland’s Railway
People travelling on Scotland’s Railway will not be allowed to consume alcohol either on trains or at stations, ScotRail has announced. From today (Monday 16 November 2020) the restrictions on alcohol will be applied across the country, as the train operator continues to support the public health measures put in place by the Scottish Government to tackle coronavirus.

Flexible Workforce Development Fund
From today (Monday 16 November 2020) eligible employers can use the fund to address priority skills gaps in their organisation by accessing funding to create tailored training programmes with their local college.

The fund is flexible:

  • Apprenticeship Levy paying employers in Scotland have the flexibility to choose the training they need.
  • Employers can use the Fund to address priority skills gaps.
  • Access training in high-quality learning environments available in Scotland’s colleges.
  • Engage and motivate existing employees by offering them high quality training to bring the greatest benefits to your organisation.

Visit the Scottish Funding Council website to find out more.

School lunches feature on The One Show

The One Show
The One Show

Inverclyde’s safe approach to delivering school lunches to pupils in primary and secondary has featured on the flagship BBC programme The One Show.  Broadcast on 9 November 2020 it is available to view on the BBC iplayer and features interviews with school staff, pupils and parents at Ardgowan Primary School in Greenock and St Columba’s High School in Gourock.  It’s the second time in recent months Inverclyde has featured on the programme which broadcasts at 7pm weekdays on BBC One to an audience of over five million. 

Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers
Funding is available to support creative freelancers working in Scotland who are experiencing immediate financial hardship due to the loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediate financial hardship means an inability to meet essential costs at the present time.  The funds offer a one-off payment to those who are deeply impacted and disadvantaged by the cancellation of work as a result of the pandemic.  Details of the second round of the fund which re-opened this week are available from Creative Scotland.

Screen Hardship Fund
This fund is being delivered by both Creative Scotland and Screen Scotland to support freelance screen practitioners working in all parts of Scotland’s screen sector, as well as professional photographers, who are experiencing immediate financial hardship due to the loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The details, eligibility criteria and how to apply are available from the Screen Scotland website.

More places added to quarantine
Travellers arriving in Scotland this weekend from Greece – except the islands of Crete, Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Zante – as well as the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, must quarantine on arrival for 14 days. A significant increase in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in those areas as well as a rise in the numbers of cases testing positive, and the associated risk of importation into Scotland has led to the decisions to remove exemption status.

At the same time Bahrain, Cambodia, Chile, Iceland, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Turks and Caicos Islands and Laos are being added to the list of destinations exempt from quarantine on arrival in Scotland.

All these changes took effect at 4am Saturday 14 November 2020.  Read the full announcement on the Scottish Government website which includes a link to the existing list of overseas destinations where those arriving in Scotland are exempt from self-isolation.

Bird flu protection
Avian influenza protection measures have been introduced in response to cases of highly pathogenic H5N8 in Britain and Europe.  An ‘Avian Influenza Prevention Zone’ applying to all of Scotland has been declared. It introduces stringent biosecurity measures for all bird keepers (including those who keep pet birds) to help prevent the spread of avian influenza from wild birds or any other source. This precautionary step has been taken in response to cases of a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 causing high mortality in poultry and wild birds in England and in Europe. The full statement is available on the Scottish Government website which includes a link the Avian influenza (bird flu): how to spot and report the disease guidance and the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone: declaration. The Scottish Government Agriculture and Rural Delivery Directorate has also prepared guidance for organisers of bird gatherings in Scotland.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 10 November 2020

Inverclyde to stay at level three
The Scottish Government has today (10 November 2020) reviewed the tier levels across Scotland. Inverclyde has been confirmed as level three. The breakdown on the levels set for each council area is published at the Scottish Government website which includes a postcode checker to allow residents to search for their local restrictions.

The First Minister highlighted in a statement to the Scottish Parliament that, among other areas, Inverclyde was an “area of concern”.

The Scottish Government has produced guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19): allocation of levels to local authorities - 10 November 2020 which includes the following update on Inverclyde:

  • Inverclyde is an area of concern with 119% increase in cases over past week and increase in test positivity rate (3.4% to 5.5%).
  • Forecast cases remain high.
  • Continued evidence of projected pressure on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
  • Situation will remain under close scrutiny.
  • Inverclyde continues to be allocated to level 3

Three areas, Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross are the only parts of Scotland with a change in level. Each will move from level two to level three from 6am on Friday 13 November 2020.

Ban on entry introduced for visitors from Denmark

Further travel controls have been introduced on travellers who have been in Denmark in the previous 14 days. This follows four nations talks on Friday. The Home Office has implemented immigration powers meaning visitors arriving into the UK from Denmark will not be permitted entry into the UK.

In addition, regulations now require all UK nationals or residents returning to the UK from Denmark to isolate for 14 days.  This will apply to both the individual traveller and their household. Unlike travel into the UK from other countries, there will be no exemptions to this quarantine policy.

The full statement is published on the Scottish Government website.

Events sector guidance

The Scottish Government has updated its guide for the events sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic. The latest version of the Coronavirus (COVID-19): events sector guidance provides updates to definitions, operational guide and related information to add links to guidance on protests and demonstrations and regulations.

Retail sector guidance

The Scottish Government has updated guidance for the retail sector, including close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, which covers procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): retail sector guidance has been updated to include that close contact services guidance has been updated to take account of mobile services. Close contact services checklist has been replaced. Questions and answers section has been revised to take into account the Strategic Framework, retail sector content and mobile close contact services

Hospital, primary care and community care face coverings and masks

Guidance on the extended use of face masks and face coverings by staff within acute hospitals (including mental health, maternity, neonatal and paediatrics), community hospitals, primary care (GP practices, dentists, opticians and pharmacies) and wider community care (including adult social or community care and adult residential settings, care home settings and domiciliary care) has been updated by the Scottish Government.  The frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of the Coronavirus (COVID-19): interim guidance on the extended use of face masks and face coverings in hospitals, primary care, wider community care and adult care homes has been updated.

Armistice Day – 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month

Armistice Day is tomorrow (Wednesday 11 November 2020).  It marks the end of the First World War in 1918.  At the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month people across the UK will fall silent to commemorate and remember those who lost their lives fighting for our country. Please take the time for the national two minutes silence at 11am tomorrow.

You can support Poppy Scotland online at www.poppyscotland.org.uk 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Friday 6 Novemebr 2020

Marking Remembrance Sunday

This weekend marks Remembrance Sunday and, due to covid restrictions on holding events, people are being urged to mark it differently to avoid large congregations at memorials.  Councillors will represent the community by laying wreaths at Cenotaph’s across Inverclyde. 

A short film - Inverclyde Virtual Remembrance Sunday - has been produced which can be viewed on You Tube at 10:58am on Sunday which includes recorded prayers of commemoration by Rev Alan Sorenson of Wellpark Mid Kirk in Greenock and will lead viewers through the two minutes silence at 11am.

The short film is available to view on the council’s You Tube channel and includes images of service personnel supplied by residents, the Watt Institution and the Imperial War Museum and shows Provost Brennan laying wreaths at Greenock Cenotaph, Lyle Hill Free French Memorial and the memorial to those who died and were injured in the air raids during the Greenock Blitz. 

A tribute has also been produced - Remembrance Sunday in Inverclyde - including a message from Provost Brennan, Laurence Pais, Consul General of France in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Alastair MacMillan and Graeme Brooks of Poppy Scotland.

Council refresh scheme update

Inverclyde Chief executive, Aubrey Fawcett, has sent a message to all council employees highlighting a proposal focussed on the economy and jobs which will be discussed at the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on 17 November 2020.  The message reads:

Colleagues,

This month the council’s Policy and Resources Committee will review proposals aimed at increasing job opportunities in Inverclyde and within the council.

The proposal sets out a range of interventions to create new apprenticeships, opportunities for graduates, additional funding for employer wage subsidies, a council refresh programme to create more job opportunities within the council, joining the Kickstart programme and additional funding for business support.

The paper, which will be debated by councillors at the Policy and Resources Committee on 17 November 2020, if agreed would be funded by nearly £6m from reserves.

I wanted to highlight to you one of the proposals, the Council Refresh Programme.

As the largest employer in the area with 4,109 employees, 83% of council employees live within the area and 29% of our employees are aged over 56 years old compared to 5% aged under 25 years old.

The proposal to go to the committee proposes a new scheme to create vacancies by allowing employees in targeted, entry-level lower graded positions to leave the Council with up to three added years with early access to their pension. A redundancy payment would not be made as the post is not being deleted.  The Council Refresh Programme would be promoted as a new policy and time-limited to cover the financial period 2021/2023.

Unlike previous voluntary severance ‘trawls’ this scheme would involve employees who meet the criteria being allowed to leave and by leaving opening up a vacancy to create a new employment opportunity for the local community.

Discussions have taken place with the Corporate Management Team and Trades Unions on how the proposed scheme could work. There is more detail on this and the range of other interventions on the committee papers (the specific report is item 20 - Employability Interventions – Inverclyde Jobs Recovery Plan) published on the council website which I would encourage you to read and share with colleagues.

Aubrey Fawcett
Chief Executive
Inverclyde Council

Foreign travel health rules extended

Travellers arriving in Scotland from Germany and Sweden must quarantine on arrival for 14 days. The requirement takes effect from 4am Saturday (7 November). A significant increase in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as a rise in the numbers of cases testing positive, and the associated risk of importation into Scotland has led to the decision.  The full statement is available on the Scottish Government website and includes links to the foreign travel public health rules, including quarantine requirements, and the existing list of overseas destinations where those arriving in Scotland are exempt from self-isolation.

Statement on Denmark

The UK Government has issued an urgent statement about Denmark after health authorities there reported widespread outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19) in mink farms, with a variant strain of the virus spreading to some local communities. The Chief Medical Officer has recommended that, as precautionary measure, all those returning from Denmark should self-isolate for 14 days. The new measure started at 4am today (Friday 6 November 2020).  The full statement is published on the Gov.UK website which includes links to the UK travel corridor list. The Scottish Government has also announced that from 12.30pm today (Friday 6 November 2020) anyone travelling from Denmark to Scotland will require to quarantine on arrival for 14 days.

Furlough scheme extended

The Chancellor has announced that the furlough scheme will be extended. The ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ will now run until the end of March with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. It was also announced an increase in the upfront guarantee of funding for the devolved administrations from £14 billion to £16 billion. This uplift will continue to support workers, business and individuals in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The full statement is published on the Gov.uk website.

Performing arts guidance

The Scottish Government has produced Guidance for the performing arts and venues sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the performing arts and venues sector has been updated to reflect new protection levels framework and highlights a range of issues for the sector including managing audiences, participants and performances.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Thursday 5 November 2020

Inverclyde covid level

Chamber President
Chamber President

Inverclyde’s has been highlighted in the media and the committee rooms of the Scottish Parliament.  Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce Gavin McDonagh was interviewed by BBC reporting Scotland and broadcast yesterday evening highlighting the impact on business.  In the Scottish parliament’s covid-19 committee Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, and Dr Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Scottish Government answered questions on Inverclyde’s tier level.  The BBC reporting Scotland article is available on the BBC iplayer until 7pm this evening.

Guidance for students on home visits

The Scottish Government has published guidance for students living away from home explaining how restrictions on social gatherings apply. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): student home visits guidance is available to view on the Scottish Government website and highlights the rules and guidance around issues including returning home for a visit or short stay, returning home whilst self-isolating and returning home on a permanent basis.

Events recovery fund

Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund (SERF) has been established in conjunction with Event Scotland and the Scottish Government to help Scotland’s events sector plan and deliver events through to the end of 2021, and to provide support as the industry responds and adapts to the effects of COVID-19. As part of our tourism and events recovery plan, this fund aims to help restart the events sector as restrictions are eased, and address additional costs which may be incurred as a result of new hygiene and health and safety requirements, allowing communities and the public to regain confidence in hosting and attending events.

Full details, including information for applicants and guidance on which events and activities meet the eligibility criteria, for this fund are available on EventScotland.org.

Culture collective fund

The Culture Collective is a pilot programme which will establish a network of creative practitioners, organisations and communities, working together to create a positive difference locally and nationally in response to COVID-19. The details of the fun are available on the Creative Scotland website.

New restrictions in England from today

New covid restrictions apply in England from today.  The new measures aim to reduce day-to-day contact with other people and reduce the spread of the infection. They apply across England from today (Thursday 5 November 2020) until Wednesday 2 December 2020. 

Increase in UK terrorist threat level to severe

Following the Home Secretary's announcement, Police Scotland's Assistant Chief Constable, Angela McLaren, said: “The Home Secretary announced an increase in the UK’s Terrorist Threat Level from Substantial to Severe, meaning an attack is now judged to be highly likely. This decision has been made in response to the events in France last week and in Austria. I want to stress that there is no intelligence to suggest any specific threat to Scotland. However, I do want to take this opportunity to urge the public to remain alert but not alarmed. You should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to Police Scotland."

Police Scotland can be contacted on 101 or in an emergency you should always dial 999.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Wednesday 4 November 2020

Adult social care winter preparedness plan

The Scottish Government and COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) has published a new plan outlining steps to prepare and support Scotland’s social care sector through the winter.The Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness Plan, backed by an additional £112 million in funding, will support social care users in residential, community and home settings, and the people who provide that care, including unpaid carers.  The full announcement is available on the Scottish Government website which includes links to Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness Plan 2020-21 and Evidence Paper; Coronavirus (COVID-19): care home outbreaks - root cause analysis; Public Health Scotland report – Discharges from NHSScotland Hospitals to Care Homes between 1 March and 31 May 2020 and Care Inspectorate inquiry – Delivering care at home and housing support services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emergency funding for Scotland’s Independent Cinemas

Waterfront cinema
cinema

Greenock’s waterfront cinema has received support from a national scheme to support Scotland’s independent cinemas.  The scheme is administered by Screen Scotland and it was announced this week that 30 independent cinemas and two touring operators serving communities across Scotland will received £3.55million from the Scottish Government’s Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund and The National Lottery. West Coast Cinemas which operates the Studio Cinema in Dunoon and the Waterfront Cinema in Greenock received £244,441.

Schools and services affected by covid-19 cases

The following school has been affected by a covid positive case: Clydeview Academy. Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate have received communication through the school.

Scottish transport and travel data

Rail jounrey graphic transport scotland
Transport Scotland

Transport Scotland is monitoring transport trends across Scotland during the covid-19 outbreak. The information provides a snapshot of travel across main modes when compared to this time last year.

For the period 19 - 25 October the figures highlight that across Scotland:

  • Walking journeys down by 45%
  • Cycling journeys down by 25%
  • Concessionary bus journeys down by 55%
  • Rail journeys down by 80%
  • Ferry journeys down by 40%
  • Air journeys down by 70%
  • Car journeys down by 20%

The data is published regularly and is available to view at the Transport Scotland website.

Coronavirus symptoms - reminder

Covid facts
FACTS

Below is a brief summary from our colleagues at NHS Inform which sets out the most common symptoms of coronavirus and information on what to do to protect yourself and protect others:

The most common symptoms are new:

  • continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia)

A new continuous cough is where you:

  • have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour
  • have had 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours
  • are coughing more than usual

A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back (you don’t need to measure your temperature). You may feel warm, cold or shivery.

Some people will have more serious symptoms, including pneumonia or difficulty breathing, which might require admission to hospital.

If you’ve developed symptoms (however mild), stay at home for 10 days from the start of your symptoms and arrange to be tested. Do not go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital.  You should remain at home until you get the result of the test, and then follow the advice you will be given based on the result.

For more information on coronavirus visit the NHS Inform website which includes general advice, a symptom checker and information on the importance of physical distancing.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 3 November 2020

Joint call for tier level rethink

The council and chamber of commerce have joined forces to press for more support for business through a reduction in the covid level.

A joint letter has been submitted to the First Minister from Gavin McDonagh, President of Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce and Councillor Stephen McCabe, Leader of Inverclyde Council:

Joint Statement in response to Scottish Government’s Tier Framework

We have all been working together as partners in response to Covid-19, trying to minimise the extent of economic harm to Inverclyde as a result of the virus.  We understand the need for health protection levels to be identified as part of the on-going response to the pandemic and welcome the corresponding public health interventions provided by the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework for each health protection level.

However, we feel that the approach adopted by government does not in practice give equal consideration to the four harms outlined in the framework. Inverclyde’s historic position tends to lead to a longer and deeper economic impact and recently published and historic data outlines the concerning trends in terms of our local economy that we are already facing. Economic harm should be seen as a significant factor in decision making around the levels.

For those reasons, we believe that Inverclyde should be placed on Level 2 of the restrictions rather than Level 3 to try and mitigate the economic harm now while still protecting the public.

Inverclyde and its businesses have shown that they have complied with the regulations as they have been introduced. We have implemented a number of measures to ensure that the area’s economy could operate while maintaining appropriate physical distancing, including Spaces for People and the Council’s recovery plan as the area emerged from national lockdown in July.

Footfall levels across our town centres were beginning to rise and our businesses were reporting positive signs of some recovery. Businesses were also going beyond Government guidance in terms of implementing processes and procedures for physical distancing.

The hotel and self-catering sector are struggling to get revenues back to levels even prior to local lockdown, and that initial pipeline demand has not returned. Accommodation bookings and wider spend depend on travel from different regions of Scotland, the UK and internationally.

Unemployment in this area has historically been above the Scottish and UK averages, and this has jumped a further 44 per cent between March and September, with the number of people receiving universal credit assistance rising to more than 3,190 people.

At the same time, we have seen a significant decrease in the total number of job vacancies in the area. The impact is apparent across sectors, and we are seeing a significant proportion of this in the hospitality sector.

All of this has an impact on confidence, and we are concerned about the legacy effects on the area and the economic harm beyond the immediate challenges we face, and particularly the impact on lower income households.

As a matter of urgency, we need to send a signal of confidence in Inverclyde to businesses – within the area and to Scottish and UK businesses and investors.

Collectively we are calling on government to:

  1. Place Inverclyde into Level 2 at the nearest possible review point. If the Scottish Government believes this is not possible, given the urgency of the challenging economic situation and declining prevalence of the virus in the area, it should set out an indicative date for when Inverclyde will be able to move into Level 2 immediately.
  2. In the short term, businesses in areas moving between levels need to be alerted as soon as possible to allow them to prepare for any further scheduling. We encourage Government to continue to engage with us through the dedicated Task Force formed from within the local Business Resilience Group that was set is response to Covid-19.  We need clarity around the any weekly reviews and how changes are notified to those affected.
  3. The Scottish Government must work alongside local authorities and business to develop a more ambitious forward-looking pathway to sustainably reopen all sectors of the economy in the months ahead and allow us to build towards recovery.
  4. A refreshed route map should be created which focuses on resolving some of the key challenges which are creating serious economic harm. In particular this should address the safe re-opening of offices, put forward practical solutions and timescales to allow leisure and corporate travel to resume, and set out steps to work with the hospitality sector to ease restrictions which are putting businesses at severe risk.

Gavin McDonagh                                                            Stephen McCabe
President                                                                          Leader
Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce                            Inverclyde Council


Children and young people’s mental health funding

Funding of £15 million is being made available to respond to children and young people’s mental health issues, with a focus on those  brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The funding will be distributed to councils to support a local response for five to 24-year-olds, their families and carers. Of this, £11.25 million will be for services in response to the pandemic, such as support for children who are struggling emotionally due to returning to school under new restrictions. The remaining £3.75 million will be the first instalment of an annual £15 million fund to provide new and enhanced community mental health and wellbeing services. These new services will have a focus on prevention, early intervention and the treatment of distress.  Inverclyde’s share of the funding totals £151,000.

The full statement on the Scottish Government website.

Support for self-employed
The chancellor has announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be made more generous – with self-employed individuals receiving 80% of their average trading profits for November. The statement highlights that to ensure those who need support get it as soon as possible, payments will also be made more quickly with the claims window being brought forward from 14 December to 30  November. The full statement is available to view on the Gov.UK website.

Safer public spaces

Guidance focused on design principles for safer urban centres and green spaces in Scotland during the coronavirus crisis has been updated by the Scottish Government. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public spaces - updated guidance contains information and examples of interventions that may be undertaken by owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe.

Hospital visiting guidance

Guidance on hospital visiting has been updated to reflect new protection levels across Scotland. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): hospital visiting guidance is available to view on the Scottish Government website. 

Travelling safely

Guidance has been published highlighting safe travelling. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on travel and transport highlights that to suppress the spread of COVID-19 it is essential that, with limited exceptions, there is no travel to or from areas where higher numbers of people may be carrying the virus. It highlights international travel guidance, travelling around Scotland based on the level you live in and travel between Scotland the rest of the UK.  The guidance highlights the use of public transport and car sharing.

This is a list of limited exceptions from the guidance not to travel into or out of Level 3 and 4 local authority areas, or to or from other parts of the UK. The guidance emphasises that these should not be seen as loopholes and that it is important for everyone’s safety to minimise such travel as much as possible.

The list of exceptions are:

  • travel for work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from your home
  • travel to school, college, or university where teaching is not provided remotely
  • (To and from Level 3 areas but not Level 4) travel for under 18s sport
  • travel for essential shopping only where it is not possible in your local authority area – you should use on-line shopping or shops, banks and other services in your local area wherever you can
  • travel for healthcare, childcare and other essential services, including recycling, but only if they are not available in your local area
  • travel to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
  • travel for shared parenting or travel between the two parts of an extended household
  • travel to meet a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings
  • travel for essential animal welfare reasons, such as feeding a horse or going to a vet
  • local outdoor informal exercise such as walking, cycling, golf, or running (in groups of up to 6 people from no more than 2 households) that starts and finishes at the same place 
  • travel locally (within around 5 miles of your local authority area) to reach a place to take exercise outdoors
  • travel for weddings, civil partnership registrations, funerals and other “life events” (such as bar mitzvahs and christenings)
  • if you are a minister of religion or worship leader travel to your place of worship
  • (to or from Level 3 areas, but not Level 4) travel to your normal place of worship
  • travel to give blood at a Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service collection session
  • travel to transit through Level 3 and 4 areas by road or public transport if your journey begins and ends outside such an area
  • travel to move house
  • travel to avoid injury, illness or to escape a risk of harm

Soft play sector re-opening

The Scottish Government has published Coronavirus (COVID-19): provisional guidance for the soft play sector to support centres prepare for re-opening at a future date.

Launch of Operation Moonbeam 2020

Police Scotland is supporting local communities across the country with a range of specialist resources to keep people safe around Bonfire Night. A number of specially-trained officers will be deployable within the North, West and East of Scotland to support local officers during this busy period. With organised bonfire events cancelled across Scotland in light of the coronavirus pandemic, anyone planning their own garden bonfire is urged to be considerate towards neighbours and pets when setting off fireworks.  Find out more about Operation Moonbeam 2020 at the Police Scotland website.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Monday 2 November 2020

Inverclyde enters level three in new covid-19 measures

Today (Monday 2 November 2020) Inverclyde enters level three of the new Scottish Government five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions.

The local authority levels were confirmed in 29 October 2020 and come into force today.  The Scottish Government has published Coronavirus (COVID-19): allocation of levels to local authorities which includes the allocation of levels, the modelling paper and covid-19 indicators.

The Scottish Government website includes a breakdown of what you can and cannot do in level three. You can also check the restriction in your local area by using the new post code checker.


Updated schools guidance

Guidance on school safety has been updated to take account of public health advice and Scotland’s new approach to suppressing coronavirus (COVID-19). The guidance, which outlines additional protection measures at all five levels in the Scottish Government’s strategic framework, comes into force today (Monday 2 November 2020).

Below is a copy of a letter issued to parents on Friday advising of the new measures:

Update on guidance to schools in level 3

We are writing to update you on some changes that have been published today by the Scottish Government for schools as part of the new Scottish Government Tiers announced this week. As you will probably know Inverclyde Council has been placed in level 3.

The existing guidance will largely remain in place. The guidance states:

In schools, approaches such as:

  • following and reinforcing physical distancing advice
  • having a staggered start and end to the school day
  • staggered lesson change overs
  • amendments to timetables
  • scrupulous hand-washing and respiratory hygiene

help to contain the spread of COVID 19.  It is very important that these and other measures continue to be followed rigorously.

The key changes that will affect schools are:

  1. All staff and pupils in the Senior Phase (S4 to S6) will now need to wear face coverings in lessons.
  2. Adults, when not working directly with children, for example when moving around settings or when in staff rooms, administrative areas or canteens across all school settings, will need to wear a face covering.
  3. Children aged 11 and under can play organised contact sport both indoors and outdoors i.e. PE in primary schools can begin again over the next week or so.
  4. Organised outdoor contact sports such as rugby can re-start for people of all ages.

Guidance on other subjects with practical experiential learning, such as music and drama has not been altered at this point.  All advice is kept under review and will be updated as appropriate.

It is also advised that parents or guardians should discuss with their GP or clinician whether children with the highest clinical risk should still attend school.

Please contact your child’s school if there is any aspect of this that you would like clarification about.

We thank you in anticipation of your ongoing support in this matter.

Yours truly,

Michael Roach                  Tony McEwan
Head of Education           Head of Culture, Communities and Educational resources

Schools and services affected by covid-19 cases

Since the weekend the following schools have been affected by covid positive cases at St Stephen’s High School; St Mary’s Primary School and Notre Dame High School. Parents and carers of pupils affected or requiring to self-isolate by any of the cases have received communication through the school. St Columba’s School in Kilmacom has closed its nursery and the after school club will move to Kilmacolm Primary School. UPDATE: The after school club remained at St Columba’s School and did not relocate to Kilmacolm Primary School after appropriate space was available in the school.

Face covering exemption cards launched

The Scottish Government has produced a face covering exemption card, to support those who are unable to wear one to feel more confident and safe when accessing public spaces and using public services. Physical and digital cards are available to request online at www.exempt.scot or by calling the free helpline on 0800 121 6240.


Further countries designated for public health quarantine

Travellers from Cyprus and Lithuania must quarantine on arrival in Scotland for 14 days from 4am on Sunday (1 November). This is due to a significant rise in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as an increase in the numbers of cases testing positive, as well as the associated risk of importation into Scotland. Find out more about Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and quarantine including the existing list of overseas destinations where those arriving in Scotland are exempt from self-isolation.

Childcare arrangements – Inverclyde Council update for employees

Since the re-opening of schools, health protection teams, due to positive cases of covid19, are instructing specific groups of children and/or staff to self-isolate. Parents of children who have been told to self-isolate don’t need to isolate themselves (unless they or a member of their household tests positive or has symptoms), however some may find it difficult to balance work and childcare.

We (Inverclyde council) are legally required to provide reasonable emergency unpaid time off for dependents. Contractually where a non-teaching employee is required to be absent from work to make urgent domestic arrangements, leave with pay for one day will be granted subject to proper notification and evidence.  Teachers may be entitled to take up to two days paid leave

During the period of pandemic we have provided exceptional levels of support through paid special leave for various reasons.  Following discussion with the council’s corporate management team (CMT) and trade unions the following will apply in above circumstances :

Arrangements:

Where employees are working from home, they will normally be able to cover childcare while they are working. They may require some flexibility of when they work depending on the needs of the child. This should be discussed and agreed with line managers

Where staff don’t normally work from home or can’t work from home due to the nature of their job managers should be flexible and explore what options the employee can do if they are unable to cover childcare responsibilities (remembering that if they are self-isolating this must be within the household). Line managers should consider the following:

  • Can the employee work from home for the isolation period?
  • Can they use annual leave to cover the period of absence?
  • Can they share childcare with a partner or other adults in their household?
  • Is there flexibility in start and finish times?
  • Can the employee do a specific piece of project work from home?
  • Can the employee work a compressed or reduced week?

In exceptional circumstances, where childcare arrangements cannot be met, managers should allow paid special leave, but only where all the options above have been considered.

Community urged to mark Remembrance Sunday in a new way

In line with national guidance on staging events, there will be no official Remembrance services taking place in Inverclyde on Sunday 8 November 2020, and people are being advised not to gather at war memorials to support the guidance on social and physical distancing.

Instead residents and veterans are being encouraged to pay their respects at home by observing the national two minute silence on their doorsteps.

On behalf of all residents and veterans, individual council representatives will attend each memorial to lay a wreath.

Provost Martin Brennan said: “Like so much of this year we have to do things differently.  Our remembrance commemorations allow us to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is also an opportunity for our communities to show our support for the armed services of our country. It is disappointing and frustrating that we will not once again have the opportunity to come together in solidarity to stand shoulder to shoulder as we have done in years past to remember the fallen.  I would ask everyone to take the time out of their day on Sunday 8 November to remember them in your own personal way at home or by joining the national two minute silence at 11am on your doorstep.  By doing so we help to keep ourselves and others safe, to protect and save lives and help to ensure that more of us will be here in years to come to continue to mark Remembrance Sunday.”

Visit the Poppy Scotland website to find out how you can get involved in showing your support.

Wreaths will be laid on behalf of the community at each of these memorials this weekend:

Broomhill

Councillor Crowther

Gourock

Depute Provost Ahlfeld

Greenock

Provost Brennan

Inverkip

Councillor Nelson

Kilmacolm

Depute Provost Wilson

Lyle Hill

Provost Brennan

Port Glasgow

Councillor McCabe

Toll Boys

Depute Provost Wilson

Wemyss Bay

Councillor Rebecchi

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) briefing - Friday 23 October 2020

Covid restrictions: New 5-tier system launched

The Scottish Government announced today that a new five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions will be introduced to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

Unlike the previous restrictions which affected health board areas, the new alert system will take into account the prevalence of the virus in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

It comes into effect on 2 November when the current restrictions end and is designed to ensure people living parts of the country with low rates of infection do not have to live with the same restrictions as places with higher rates.

The government is expected to announce next week which tier each council area, including Inverclyde, will come under. 

A brief rundown of the new tiered system is below but full details are available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/. 

Level 0 - Closest to normality as safely as possible without a vaccine. Similar to the situation in August when the virus was suppressed but still a threat. This level would allow people to meet indoors with eight people from three households and most businesses would be open, with safety measures in place.

Level 1 - Indoor household meetings limited to six people from two households but there would be a ‘reasonable’ degree of normality overall.

Level 2 - Restrictions broadly similar to those currently in place outside the Central Belt. Limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people's homes.

Level 3 – Largely similar to the tougher restrictions currently in force apply across the Central Belt, including in Inverclyde, with much of hospitality shut down. Partial opening of restaurants would be allowed.

Level 4 - The highest level and only to be used if ‘unless absolutely necessary’ if cases are very high and the NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed. This would be close to the full lockdown introduced in March with non-essential shops forced to close. However, six people from two households could still meet outdoors; there would be no limit on outdoor exercise; and the government would seek to keep manufacturing and construction open.

New ‘walk-through’ testing centre open in Greenock

A new ‘walk-through’ coronavirus testing centre has opened at Crawfurdsburn Community Centre in Greenock.

The UK Government-run facility is designed to make it easier for people to access a test and is in addition to the testing sites already in place at Parklea in Port Glasgow and Glasgow Airport.

  • Tests must be booked in advance at: www.nhsinform.scot/test-and-protect or by calling 0800 028 2816.
  • People should only book a test if they have coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste) or have been told to seek a test by a clinician or an NHS tracer.
  • People travelling to and from the test centre must NOT use taxis or public transport.

Flu jabs update

Vaccinations are well underway but they are being administered differently this year and in greater numbers than ever before due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most people will be invited to either Greenock Town Hall, Port Glasgow Town Hall, pictured, Gourock’s Gamble Halls or Kilmacolm Community Centre for their jag to allow for two-metre social-distancing.

Among those who are eligible for a free jab are people aged over 65 and anyone who has not yet been contacted about their appointment will receive a letter by the end of October.

The flu jab is routinely available on the NHS to: adults who are 65 and over; people with certain medical conditions; pregnant women; children aged two and three years old on 31 August 2020; children in primary school; unpaid and young carers; those in the same home as people previously shielding from coronavirus; and frontline health or social care workers.

GP practices have begun vaccinating those under 65 in ‘at risk’ groups and they will contact patients directly with details on how to book or to offer an appointment.

Whilst most practices will be using their own building to administer the flu jab, some will invite people to a community venue.

Carers and those who live with someone in the shielding group will be asked to attend local pharmacies.

Community nurses will still carry out home visits to those who are housebound.

A second phase is planned to begin in December and will include those aged 55 to 64 who would not usually be eligible.

Anyone who is unsure about whether they are eligible for a flu vaccination can check online at www.nhsinform.scot/flu or phone 0800 22 44 88 between 8am and 10pm seven days a week.

Business disruption fund open

Businesses which have either been forced to close or suffered a drop in trade because of Covid-19 limitations could be eligible for a one-off grant of between £1,000 and £3,000.

Payments will be distributed by local authorities, including Inverclyde Council, from a £40 million Scottish Government fund.

Grants are being offered to support businesses, particularly those in the hospitality and leisure sectors, affected by the restrictions aimed at tackling a surge in coronavirus cases which came into effect on 9 October.

The grants are aimed at the likes of pubs and restaurants, their suppliers and gyms.

For full eligibility criteria, to download an application form and to find out how to apply for funding, visit www.inverclyde.gov.uk/covidsupportfund.  

 

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Friday 16 October 2020

Business support scheme set to open

A national business support scheme will start taking applications from Tuesday (20 October 2020) across Scotland, it has been announced by the Scottish Government. In total, £40 million of support is available, including a £20 million grant fund which will be administered by councils.  Guidance is expected to be published soon by the Scottish Government. Local details for how the scheme will operate in Inverclyde is expected to be promoted early next week.

Face coverings

Changes have been announced to the use of face coverings across Scotland.

The Scottish Government has announced new regulations:

  • The wearing of face coverings in a workplace canteen, when not seated at a table, such as when queueing, entering or leaving the canteen (in line with other hospitality venues) – from today (Friday 16 October 2020).
  • The wearing of face coverings in other indoor communal workplaces, such as corridors and social spaces – from Monday 19 October 2020.
  • Exemption for couples during their indoor marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration, providing there is a partition or 2 metres can be maintained between the couple and other people – Friday 16 October.

Temporary contact tracers

The council is recruiting temporary contact tracers to support the national programme of ‘test and protect’:

We are looking for candidates to apply using their skills and experience to help in the delivery of a key priority during the Covid-19 pandemic – contact tracing.

Contact tracing supports the demands arising from the increasing positivity rate for Covid-19 across Scotland. Here in Inverclyde we are looking to recruit six temporary contact tracers as part of the National Contract Tracing Centre.

Test and Protect is a public health measure designed to interrupt the spread of coronavirus in the community by:

  • identifying people who have the virus,
  • tracing those who have been in close contact with an infected person for a long enough period of time to be at risk of infection, and
  • supporting these close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they have the virus they are less likely to transmit it to others.

It will help to gradually change the restrictions so we can avoid a return to lockdown.

Potential candidates might include current temporary staff with contracts due to end, employees on the redeployment list, employees in services not able to do all duties due to Covid-19.  It could also be a role for those unable to do front-line tasks because of health reasons but who could do this type of task working from home. 

Posts are 37 hours per week, shift patterns will cover hours of operation from 8am-8pm 7 days a week but there are multiple start times so varied patterns can be accommodated. Shifts are usually 8 hours and weekend cover is a priority for the service.

Successful staff will receive training directly from the National Contract Tracing Centre and will be coordinated directly by them to undertake support for simple contact tracing.  

The initial period will be for 6 months, with a 12 week review cycle, with identified staff remaining as employees of Inverclyde Council, but funded by Scottish Government. Staff will be paid their existing salary. Post-holders will require to complete a standard Disclosure check.

If you are interested please discuss with your line manager and then email: human.resources@inverclyde.gov.uk by close of business on Monday 19 October 2020 expressing your interest in the role.

Quarantine measures reinstated for further destinations

Travellers arriving in Scotland from Italy, San Marino and the Vatican City State will be required to quarantine at home, or another specified address, for 14 days from 4am Sunday (18 October 2020). This is due to significant increases in the number of cases testing positive for Coronavirus (Covid-19) as well as the increased number of cases in these areas. Meanwhile those arriving from mainland Greece and the Greek islands, except Mykonos, will no longer need to quarantine due to the low number of cases. The change is also effective from Sunday. Read the full statement on the Scottish Government website and in the publications section the document Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and quarantine is available to download.

Travel guidance

Transport Scotland has published guidance and advice on travelling by public transport in the central belt of Scotland.  The guidance is available on their website and highlights that for the central belt of Scotland, which encompasses the five health board areas of Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley, mandatory travel restrictions have not been imposed at this stage, but the following advice is encouraged:

  • public transport use should be minimised as much as possible, recognising people may need to for use travel to education, caring responsibilities and work,
  • please work from home if you can,
  • people living in the five health board areas are advised not to travel outside the health board area they live in, unless they need to,
  • people in other parts of Scotland should not travel to these areas unless they need to,
  • you should access goods, services and activities in your local area as much as possible and
  • please walk, wheel and cycle when you can.

Local government has reduced the worst impacts of covid

Local government group COSLA (convention of Scottish Local Authorities) has highlighted that councils have reduced the worst impacts of the pandemic on the most vulnerable people in the country.  COSLA also said that is why their Blueprint outlines the lead role of local government in securing a fair and inclusive recovery with a strong focus on human rights, tackling poverty and addressing inequalities. The full statement is available on the COSLA website.

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Monday 12 October 2020

Self-isolation grants

From today (Monday 12 October 2020) the Scottish Government has made self-isolation grants available up to the value of £500.  These grants are to support employed, or self-employed residents, who will suffer a reduction in earnings due to being required to self-isolate. 

The application process is over the phone only and the applicant must have the reference number provided to them by the ‘test and protect’ service.

The applicant must be employed or self-employed and unable to work from home while self-isolating. They must be in receipt of one of the following: Universal Credit; Working Tax Credit; Income Support; Income Based Jobseekers Allowance; Income Related Employment Support Allowance; Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit in addition to their earned income. They must be experiencing a reduction in their earnings as a result of a period of self-isolation

Anyone who has been contacted through the Protect Scotland app informing them to self-isolate as a result of Covid-19 is not eligible for a grant at this time but should contact the ‘test and protect’ service on 0800 028 2816 for advice.

More information will be available on www.inverclyde.gov.uk/selfisolationgrant and applications should be made by calling 01475 714444.

Face coverings

The First Minister announced last week that regulations around face coverings will change making the use of face coverings mandatory in more locations. Face coverings should now be considered mandatory in communal areas in all council buildings e.g. when entering Council buildings, in corridors/stairs, lift, moving around canteen/kitchen area and toilets etc.  Face coverings would not be required when sitting at your desk (where 2 metre separation will apply).

Please follow the advice and guidance that in all circumstances work from home where possible, keep your 2m physical distance from others, wash or sanitise your hands regularly, keep hard surfaces such as desks and touch points cleaned and wear  face coverings where required. Face coverings are not a replacement for any other measure but should be used in conjunction with these as they provide an extra layer of protection for your colleagues particularly in locations where physical distancing may be difficult. Face coverings also help prevent contamination of touch points and surfaces.

For more information The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Additional Temporary Measures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 are published on the Scottish Government website.

Please follow the advice and guidance that in all circumstances work from home where possible, keep your 2m physical distance from others, wash or sanitise your hands regularly, keep hard surfaces such as desks and touch points cleaned and wear  face coverings where required. Face coverings are not a replacement for any other measure but should be used in conjunction with these as they provide an extra layer of protection for your colleagues particularly in locations where physical distancing may be difficult. Face coverings also help prevent contamination of touch points and surfaces.

For more information The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Additional Temporary Measures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 are published on the Scottish Government website.

SQA awards 2021

The Scottish Government has announced plans for Higher and Advanced Higher exams to go ahead in 2021, while National 5 exams will be replaced by a system where grades are awarded based on coursework and teacher judgement.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney’s full speech to the Scottish Parliament is available on the Scottish Government website where he highlighted that the ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic, combined with the fact that pupils have already lost significant study time as a result of the lockdown last academic year, meant that the normal exam plans were not possible.

Higher and Advanced Higher exams will take place from 13 May until 4 June 2021.

Further guidance will be developed, based on the advice of the Scottish Government’s scientific advisors and the Education Recovery Group, on how to deliver examinations safely in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the SQA will revise the conditions for exam invigilation.  The Scottish Government website includes links to the Rapid Review Of National Qualifications Experience 2020 by Professor Mark Priestley and The Scottish Government response to that review.

New covid restrictions now in place

New covid restrictions are in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) with tighter restrictions across central belt areas where the infection rate is highest.

Restrictions on licensed premises came into force from 6pm on Friday 9 October 2020, with all other restrictions applying from 12:01am Saturday 10 October.

The new measures are:

Nationwide (excepting central belt areas):

  • Hospitality (food and drink): all premises may only open indoors between 6am and 6pm, with no sales of alcohol
  • Hospitality (food and drink): premises may open outdoors until 10pm, with sales of alcohol (where licensed)
  • Takeaways (including from pubs and restaurants) can continue
  • Evening meals may be served in accommodation for residents only but no alcohol can be served
  • Current meeting rules, maximum of six people from two households, continue to apply
  • Specific life events, such as weddings and funerals, may continue with alcohol being served, with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only)

Central belt area focusing on five health board areas (Ayrshire & Arran; Forth Valley; Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Lanarkshire; Lothian):

  • All licensed premises will be required to close, with the exception of takeaway services
  • Cafés (unlicensed premises) which don’t have an alcohol licence will be able to open between 6am and 6pm
  • Takeaways (including from pubs and restaurants) can continue
  • Evening meals may be served in accommodation for residents only but no alcohol can be served
  • Specific life events, such as weddings and funerals, may continue with alcohol, with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only)
  • No group exercise classes for indoor gyms and sports courts, pools with an exemption for under 18s
  • No adult (18+) contact sports or training, except professional sports, indoor or outdoor
  • No outdoor live events
  • Snooker/pool halls, indoor bowling, casinos and bingo halls are to close
  • Public transport use should be minimised as much as possible, such as for education and work, where it cannot be done from home
  • Current meeting rules, maximum of six people from two households, continue to apply

Additionally shops across Scotland are asked to return to two metres physical distancing and reintroduce the mitigations they put in place earlier in the pandemic, including one-way systems. The full statement from the Scottish Government is published on the news section of the website, which includes a link to an evidence paper. The Scottish Government has also published retail sector guidance. 

Advice and guidance has also been publishes for Coronavirus (COVID-19): local advice and measures covering the central belt.

Inverclyde stride

Inverclyde Community Fund is inviting walkers to join its Inverclyde Stride 2020, delivered in partnership with the World Walking App.  The stride is a chance to virtually explore the beauty of Inverclyde while raising funds for local community groups. The walk is just over 50K steps and the challenge is to see how many people of all ages can complete the walk.

Inverclyde Community Fund is a charity registered in Scotland (SC042844), set up by CVS Inverclyde in 2012 with the aim to award small grants usually of less than £500 to local community groups and voluntary organisations in Inverclyde.

Fireworks event won’t go ahead in 2020

Inverclyde’s annual fireworks event, originally scheduled for Saturday 7 November 2020 at Battery Park, Greenock, will not go ahead this year due to ongoing limitations on outdoor live events.

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 22 September 2020

New covid restrictions

The Scottish Government has announced new restrictions to combat the spread of the virus across Scotland.

The restrictions, which apply to all parts of the country, include:

  • New rules mean that you must not make indoor social visits to other households.
  • From 25 September, pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm.

To find out more information visit the Scottish Government’s coronavirus (covid-19) guidance on what you can and cannot do.

The pages on the website include information on a range of settings including seeing friends and family, shopping, drinking and eating out, travel, education and childcare, work and business, sport, culture and leisure, community and public services, gatherings and occasions and healthcare.

The Scottish Government’s publication Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others has also been updated to reflect the new rules.

Protect Scotland
#ProtectScotland

Protect Scotland app

The Protect Scotland app is now available to download from Apple and Google stores.

Supported by a dedicated Protect Scotland website, the app is an extra tool complementing existing person-to-person contact tracing which remains the main component of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.

Individuals privacy will be protected as the app uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and advises them to self-isolate. Users of the app who test positive will still get a call from a contact tracer to confirm their details and who they have been in close contact with.

The app does not store details on an individual or their location but uses encrypted, anonymised codes exchanged between smartphones to determine all close contacts. Close contacts are defined as people who have been within two metres of someone who has tested positive for 15 minutes.

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Tuesday 8 September 2020

Indoor gatherings limited in more areas.

Restrictions on meetings in indoor household settings have been extended to people living in Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire.

The current limits on indoor gatherings for people living in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire will also continue for at least a further seven days.

The restrictions follow a recent increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases with 78 new cases reported yesterday in the Greater Glasgow & Clyde area and 92 new cases on Sunday.

From midnight the revised restrictions became:

  • people in the Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire local authority areas should not meet with people from other households in indoor household settings.
  • people from these areas should also not meet people in indoor household settings in other local authority areas. Members of different households can continue to meet outdoors, including in gardens, and in hospitality settings, provided all existing guidance is followed.
  • indoor visits to hospitals and care homes will be limited to essential visits only to protect the most vulnerable. Outdoor visits to care homes are permitted by three people from a maximum of two households, in line with current guidance.

The Scottish Government and local authorities will monitor hospitality over the coming days to see whether restrictions should be extended.

Those households who have formed an extended household and people providing care and support – for example caring for an elderly family member or delivering shopping - can continue to meet indoors with enhanced hygiene measures in place.

People living in all affected local authority areas who were previously shielding are asked to be particularly vigilant.

If you have family or other connections in these areas or are travelling to or from these areas please support the lockdown measures and follow the guidance. The Scottish Government has published Coronavirus (COVID-19): local advice and measures guidance on its website at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-local-measures/ 

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Friday 4 September 2020

Transitional support fund for childcare providers

A new transitional support fund has been launched to help childcare providers in the private, voluntary and not-for profit sectors, including out-of-school care providers, meet the extra costs incurred to comply with public health guidance in response to Covid-19.

The fund will provide one-off grants to eligible childcare settings.  More information is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-support-to-childcare-sector/pages/transitional-support-fund-for-childcare-providers/

The fund is now open for applications and the last date for submitting one will be Friday 9 October 2020. The application form is available online and through the council website.

Further quarantine measures introduced for travellers

The Scottish Government has announced that travellers from Portugal and French Polynesia will be required to self-isolate at home, or another specified address, for 14 days on arrival in Scotland from 4am Saturday morning (5 September). Travellers are urged to check the full guidance available at the Scottish Government website which includes the list of country exemptions.

Quarantine and council employees

Council employees who have booked holidays abroad must discuss this with their line manager.  If a period of quarantine is required, whether known about at the date of departure, or subsequently announced, this will be granted as unpaid leave or where appropriate annual leave or a combination of both.  This approach ensures all employee groups are treated consistently and this approach has been agreed with the trade unions.

Community optometrists to support eye care services

The Scottish Government has announced that patients with chronic eye conditions will be now be able to be assessed by community optometrists. Due to changes in hospital services because of COVID-19 - including health, safety and physical distancing measures – there has been limited capacity to see all patients with chronic and sight-threatening conditions. Under the new plan, the skills of community optometrists will be utilised to support hospital eye services, ensuring more patients can be seen for their appointments.

More information is available at the Scottish Government website which includes links to the  mobilisation plan for key clinical services.

Coronavirus (covid-19) briefing - Wednesday 2 September 2020

Indoor gatherings limited in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.

Following an increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire, additional restrictions have now been introduced for people living in these areas for an initial two week period .

These started at midnight.

The restrictions are:

  • people in the Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire local authority areas should not meet with people from other households in indoor household settings, whether in these areas or elsewhere. Members of different households can continue to meet outdoors, including in gardens, and in hospitality settings, provided all existing guidance is followed
  • if anyone living in these areas is identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they and all those in their household group should self-isolate for 14 days
  • indoor visits to hospitals and care homes will be limited to essential visits only to protect the most vulnerable. Outdoor visits to care homes are permitted by three people from a maximum of two households, in line with current guidance.

Those households who have formed an extended household and people providing care and support – for example caring for an elderly family member or delivering shopping - can continue to meet indoors with enhanced hygiene measures in place.

People living in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire who were previously shielding are asked to be particularly vigilant.

Schools and nurseries will remain open, and plans for the opening of colleges and universities remain in place.

If you have family or other connections in these areas please support the measures and follow the guidance.

Guidance is published on the Scottish Government website at: Coronavirus (COVID-19): local advice and measures - gov.scot: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-local-measures/ 

Testing changes

The mobile testing unit, currently sited at Parklea in Port Glasgow, will be operating on a rotating basis between Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire. 

The testing unit, previously operated by the Army, is now managed by the Scottish Ambulance Service and will continue to operate between Port Glasgow and Dumbarton on alternate days starting in Dumbarton tomorrow (Thursday 3 September 2020).

The reason for this change is to provide additional support to areas experiencing increased Covid-19 transmission rates.