Daily briefings

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

The daily 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 - 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.