I’ve just received the following letter sent jointly from the CEO and Leader of South Kesteven District Council. I think it explains the council’s stance regarding the current public health situation,..
As you will be aware, the World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 (Coronavirus) a pandemic. This means that the virus has reached a tipping point whereby it spreads on a wide geographic scale and easily from one person to another. In other words, it is contagious and spreading quickly. A pandemic does not relate to an increase in the strength of a virus or disease, just to a growth in its spread, although the reality is that if a virus is spreading easily and quickly, more people are likely to contract it. It is also possible that, following today’s Cobra meeting that the UK Government may announce that we are moving from the containment phase to the delay phase.
So we wanted to assure you, as Leader of the Council and Chief Executive, that we continue to take Coronavirus very seriously. A Business Continuity team, led by Karen, has already been formed, and plans are being further developed to ensure that we remain prepared in the coming days, weeks and months. Our aim is to keep you fully informed about the evolving national and regional picture and to ensure that as a council we continue to deliver our key services in the event of an outbreak in South Kesteven. If the UK does move to the delay phase, we will need to see exactly what that means, and respond accordingly. But whatever the outcome, we are well-prepared for any potential impact on you, on our staff, and on our ability to continue to deliver key services for our communities.
There is a lot of misinformation about the virus, which does not help anyone. We will continue to take our lead from the Government, and from Public Health England, whose advice is based on sound science and medical evidence. The best advice remains to wash your hands regularly, and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds, and to follow the Catch It, Bin It, Kill It rule.
As we have said previously, the council has increased the number of hand sanitiser units and soap dispensers across our council HQ, outlying offices, depots, arts centres and within our communal rooms within our own housing. The level of cleaning has been increased across our entire estate as a precautionary measure.
Given the ease and speed with which the virus is spreading, we have also reminded all our staff that if they have been in contact with someone who has contracted the virus, or if they are showing symptoms themselves, they should stay at home and let their line manager know. Obviously if staff are ill, they should not work. However, for employees who need to self-isolate as a precautionary measure, or stay home to look after children who are self-isolating, we have asked that if they can work from home they should ensure that they are able to do so, in order that we can continue to deliver as a council. This means there is a need for staff who have the necessary IT equipment to ensure that they take their work laptops and phones home every day.
We would also like to remind Members to please look after your own health, and to reconsider some of your community commitments, that may bring you into close contact with large groups of people. As we have said, we are not yet in the delay phase, and we don’t know what that will mean, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start thinking about playing our part to slowdown the spread of the virus. In terms of Council and Committee meetings, we are already looking at how we may be able to operate remotely, using technology to stay in touch, ensure key council business continues, and look after people’s wellbeing.
We are having to operate in a very rapidly evolving environment, and we will keep you updated as things change. In the meantime, below is a link to helpful, official information about Coronavirus. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact either of us.
All the best,
Councillor Kelham Cooke (Con) and Karen Bradford SKDC CEO