Staff bulletin - 2 July 2020

Date Published: 02 July 2020

Physical-distancing to remain at 2m

Following the publication of the COVID-19 Advisory Group’s review of the 2-metre physical distancing rule, its advice maintains that the fundamental science around distance and transmission remains unchanged and that risk increases with proximity to an infected individual.

The Scottish Government will retain 2 metres as the default physical distancing requirement for the expected introduction of Phase 3 on Friday, 10th July, as it has been in previous phases of the Route Map. It is intending to make exceptions to this 2-metre requirement for a limited number of sectors and settings, including:

• Public Transport
• Outdoor hospitality
• Indoor hospitality such as pubs
• Retail (including personal retail services)

Among the mitigations will be the mandatory use of face coverings in all shops from Friday, 10th July although there will be some exemptions for children under five and people with certain medical conditions.
Ahead of the wider reopening of hospitality and tourism on Wednesday, 15th July, further guidance is also being prepared on the collection of customer contact details to support Test and Protect, which is an important additional mitigating measure.

First Minister’s update and changes to Phase 2 easing of lockdown

Over the last week, the number of people in Scotland who could be infectious with Covid-19 has declined by almost 30% and is now estimated at around 1,500.

There continues to be a sustained decline in COVID-19 deaths and there has been a sustained decline in new cases since 23rd April and a sustained decline in new hospital and ICU admissions for confirmed cases.

In light of these data and the advice on physical distancing the Scottish Government can now confirm dates for the remainder of Phase 2:

• Travel distance limit of 5 miles is being lifted from 3rd July
• Self-catering accommodation such as cottages, lodges and caravans and second homes (without shared facilities) are permitted to open from 3rd July
• Outdoor hospitality such as street cafes and beer gardens (subject to physical distancing rules and public health advice) can reopen from 6th July

 
The Scottish Government is introducing two new measures to come into effect on 3rd July for children and young people that should allow significant improvements to their quality of life, particularly during the school holidays.
 
For under 12s (0-11): 
 
• The existing rules for contact with other households continue, but children under 12 are not required to maintain physical distancing with other children or adults outdoors. The number of overall household contacts in one day remains in line with existing guidance and adults will need to maintain physical distancing.

For 12 and over (12-17): 
 
• Older children and young people in this age group can continue to meet in groups outdoors as in existing rules (maximum of 3 households in the group, no more than 8 people in total). However, there is no limit to the number of these groups that the young person can meet in a day providing that each contact aligns with the guidance. We want these young people to be able to meet those of their choosing safely. They should continue to physically distance.

 
The Scottish Government will also make an announcement next week on the introduction of additional changes from Monday, 13th July, including the potential reintroduction of outdoor contact sports for children.

Remember key guidance – the FACTS:

 
• Face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces – they are already mandatory on public transport, and will be mandatory in shops from next week
• Avoid crowded areas
• Clean your hands regularly and thoroughly, and clean any hard surfaces that you touch
• Two metre distancing remains the clear advice
• Self-isolate, and book a test immediately, if you have symptoms of COVID - a new cough; a fever or a loss of, or change in, your sense of taste or smell
• You can book a test at nhsinform.scot or by phoning 0800 028 2816. Please don’t wait to do that, as soon as you experience any of the symptoms then book a test
• If we all follow this advice rigorously and stick to it to the letter, then we will stay safe, protect others and will save lives

 
Council praise for redeployed RLWS staff

 
As the Scottish Government continues to ease Covid-19 regulations for local authorities, Aberdeenshire Council has commended members of staff within its Roads, Landscape and Waste Services (RLWS) who were redeployed and retrained in a variety of different roles while restrictions were in place. 

Following government guidance during the first stages of the pandemic, the council redeployed RLWS staff to focus its efforts on core services as a number of staff members were either shielding or remained off work through illness.

Redeployment has required staff to work longer hours, commute to new locations and undergo training in unfamiliar departments.​

You can read more on the Aberdeenshire Council website  

And end of term thank-you – and well done!

 
As local communities look forward to the end of term this Friday (3 July) Aberdeenshire Council’s leaders have said a very big thank-you and well done to thousands of young people, parents and staff. 

Director of Education and Children’s Services, Laurence Findlay said: “We are hugely grateful to everyone out there who continues to give of their best to support children and young people through an incredibly difficult time. This includes parents, carers, teachers, school support staff, social workers and our multi-agency partners: you really are fabulous and we appreciate your efforts.”

Chair of the Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, Cllr Gillian Owen added: “To all of our young people across Aberdeenshire – well done. The last few months haven’t been easy for anyone but you have shown remarkable resilience and I’ve seen loads of examples of fantastic work you’ve done in lockdown. If you are in need of support or assistance, please reach out, keep being your wonderful selves and keep learning.”

The council has launched a special website for children and young people to Shine a Light on Lockdown and keep a record of their memories and experiences. 

Submissions will continue to be accepted during the summer break and into the new school year, also documenting what young people are looking forward to and informing decision-making by highlighting the things that matter to young people most. Email pupilparticipation@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Education – help with those frequently-asked questions

Many parents and carers as well as colleagues in Education and Children's Services are looking forward to a well earned break now the school term is almost over, there are many questions being asked about arrangements for the upcoming term in August. 

A list of frequently asked questions has been prepared to address the most common ones being asked. 

Cllr Gillian Owen, Education and Children's Services Committee chair, and Director of Education and Children's Services Laurence Findlay recently answered questions submitted by parents at a Facebook Live event. 

 
Team Talks Update 
 
Chief Executive Jim Savege invites you to join him for the next Team Talk which is taking place from 12pm to 1pm on Thursday, July 9. 

Please note it is happening on Microsoft Teams rather than Skype. Here is a link to join. Please bear in mind the link opens the meeting so please click on it shortly before the start.

Jim Savege said: “I have found the weekly discussions over the past six weeks really useful and looking at the feedback many of you have too. 

“As time moves on, we are looking to tease out the impact the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has had on our services. What did we do before the pandemic that worked well? What ideas and initiatives have you implemented during the pandemic that are working well? What do we need to do to assist our communities? What areas of work could perhaps take less of a priority? These are just some of the questions I am looking forward to discussing with you over the next few weeks. 

“Many of you have said in the questionnaire that you would like Heads of Service to lead Team Talks. Guidance has recently been issued to them so look out for a few Team Talks led by Heads of Services soon.” 

Don’t forget to have your say on the latest Team Talk by completing a short questionnaire. Your feedback is really important as it helps shape future Team Talks. 

If you missed the last Team Talk you can watch a recording on our YouTube channel. Some of you said you couldn’t see the instant messages on the recording, so a transcript is available on Arcadia

Ritchie Johnson, Director of Business Services, is leading a Business Services Team Talk from 2pm on Wednesday, July 22. Here is a link to join. Please note the link opens the meeting so please click on it shortly before the start. Whilst the talk is service-themed anyone is welcome to join the conversation.

Do you need time away from the screen? 

Given the likelihood that many of us will be working from home for the next few months at least, the latest Wellbeing Newslettercontains guidance on managing your screen time. 

There is also information about making sure your posture is helpful rather than harmful when sitting at your desk in your home office. 

Tips on stretching, keeping active, taking regular breaks and caring for your eyes are also covered too.

​​For more information and advice please visit the Wellbeing and Occupational Health page.